Money won’t buy happiness, but it can buy peace of mind

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

The Dalai Lama said these words in response to a question about how to find true happiness in life. And while money can’t buy happiness, the proper use of it can make life far less stressful. That’s why Steven Seide works to get his clients to a good place financially, so that they can focus on what truly makes them happy.

“I just want to be of value to everybody, because I think everybody needs help,” Seide, CFP, AIF, president of the Seide Financial Group, Inc., told Advisors Magazine during a recent interview.

Seide Financial Group, Inc. – Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, and Registered Investment Adviser – is based in Exton, Pennsylvania., and provides investment advisory, insurance, and retirement planning to referred clients. The firm also provides analysis services for estate planning, financial needs, and business needs. The company does not maintain a firm minimum to invest, and currently manages $135 million held by 253 households, Seide said.

“We all really want the same things over the course of our lives. We all want joy and happiness in our lives, but I feel many people struggle in those areas,” said Seide.

He’s right, most people aren’t happy – at least, not when it comes to money. The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey found 62 percent of Americans describe finances and making financial decisions as “stressful.” And financial planning is stressful. The decisions that need to be made, the research, the sheer number of products glutting the market; it can be difficult, almost impossible even, for investors to sort through it all and make the best choices for themselves.

Seide works with clients to navigate the confusing marketplace of financial products and ideas. He doesn’t approach clients with cookie-cutter solutions and programmed asset allocations, either. Instead, he engages clients in a conversation about who they are, where they want to go, and how they want to get there.

“I think the problem that most people have is that there’s so much television out there. People are watching MSNBC or CNBC all day long, and it’s so confusing and so upsetting. One guy comes on and says the world is ending, then the next guy comes on and says everything is really good and you should be throwing all your money at this fund,” Seide said. “I start by having an open dialog about what is it that you want.”

Seide works to make sure clients understand their finances without loading them down with complicated industry jargon. But, he said, clients who want a detailed picture of how their financial products work are entitled to an explanation, and he’s happy to give them one.

“Using an analogy of a clock, if people want to know what time it is, then we’ll talk about where they’re going on a philosophical basis,” Seide said. “If they want to know how the clock works then I’ll actually go into the specifics of financial planning, how different funds work, how different stocks work. Many people wish me to treat them like family and manage their finances as if they are. And some people want to know everything that we do from soup to nuts, which is okay. They’re both right.”

Financial advising is not immune to the forces of automation and customization roiling other industries. As more automated tools become available, more investors might opt for a do-it-yourself approach to financial planning and investing. The tools can prove useful, Seide said, but an injured person should not use WebMD and then call a physician asking for a painkiller prescription. Likewise, many investors need someone – a human someone, not a machine – to call when a market downturn hits.

“There’s a place for robo-advisors, but when the market goes down, then what do you do?” he said.

“Some people need somebody to call to say, ‘It’s really okay, you’re going to be fine.’”

Automated tools focus on sheer return, but that’s not what clients need; often they need a solution tailored to their financial goals.

“Money management isn’t the most important thing, focusing on the client is. Focusing on whether you get 4.1 percent, or 3.2 percent, or 6.1 percent, is just not the way to go as a financial advisor. It would be if I was a stockbroker, but I am not. I am my clients’ confidant and their advisor. I consider my role at Seide Financial Group as a fiduciary, meaning that my clients’ well-being comes before commissions or firm profits,” said Seide, adding that he takes his responsibility to safeguard clients’ money very seriously. “I’m accessible when I’m awake.”

Seide recounted the frustration and worry he felt during the 2008 financial crisis. As markets melted down, Seide stopped sleeping, walking the halls of his house for six months during the night thinking about how best to keep clients’ assets safe. While he works harder today to separate emotion from finance, the story illustrates the care he has for clients and their hard-earned assets.

“If someone trusts me to manage their money, I treat it as if it is my own; I would not do anything for you that I would not do for myself. I treat everybody as family, that’s what I feel a fiduciary is. We’re all on the same team and the goal is to win together, or everybody loses.”

For more information on Seide Financial Group, Inc., visit:

Securities and Advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network. A Broker-Dealer and Registered Investment Adviser. Member FINRA & SIPC. Fixed insurance products and services offered by Seide Financial Group.


Seide Financial Group
110 John Robert Thomas Drive, Exton, PA 19341

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