Client Affairs

Interview With Diana Chambers, Author Of Money Wisdom Unlocked

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 21 March 2022

Interview With Diana Chambers, Author Of Money Wisdom Unlocked

We talk to the author of an "e-book" exploring family wealth concerns for UHNW individuals and families. The writer, Diana Chambers, says she concentrates on the emotional side of wealth.

Diana Chambers, a “family wealth mentor” and advisor on philanthropy – based in Switzerland – is an author of topics concerning the family wealth space. She has published an “e-book” entitled Money Wisdom Unlocked. The book, which examines financial behaviour and money management, and what it takes to invest and inherit wisely, is targeted at ultra-high net worth individuals.

First, some background. Chambers founded the Chambers Group in 2002 and went on to create the Chambers Group Sarl in Switzerland, where she now lives. Chambers helps clients prepare for family transitions, plan for their legacies and guides them on how to enjoy their roles as philanthropists and social leaders. She is a public speaker who talks regularly at private client events, and the author of True Wealth: Letters on Money, Life, and Love.

WealthBriefing: Please tell us about more about yourself.
Chambers: Throughout all the years I have worked with HNW and UHNW clients I have been passionate about helping them to understand the human and emotional dimensions of money (Financial EQ). For the last five years I have studied closely alongside Thomas Hübl, a world-renowned expert on the integration and healing of trauma. Through my work and experience, I have developed an insight into the connections that illustrate how an understanding of trauma sheds light on an individual’s financial behaviour. 

I wanted to make these insights broadly available because I believe that they apply to all of us, whatever our level of wealth, so the article is being made publicly available free of charge.

What is the core argument contained in this book? 
We are all born into a traumatised world, though many of us do not recognise our circumstances as such. Trauma is the response in our nervous systems to the overwhelming situations we have faced. The symptoms of our trauma – scarcity, separation, and absence – are reflected in our relationship with money. For example, greed, hoarding, fighting over money or using it to control another person; or, conversely, frugality, or finding it difficult to accept gifts from others. 

If we explore our relationship with money, we can trace back to the underlying trauma to heal it. That, in turn, will give us a healthier relationship with money and how we manage our wealth. It will also bring freedom in other aspects of our lives that we might previously have found challenging. 

I call it the Money Mirror: your relationship with money expresses all your unconscious behaviours. Looking in the Money Mirror helps you identify what is motivating you, ranging from what you genuinely love to what you most fear. Not only do we equate money with our survival, but we also charge it with our hopes, desires, and intentions. We have given money meaning that it cannot realise and created a delusional bubble around it, wanting it to achieve the impossible for us. Yet if we are discerning and choose a conscious relationship with money, we can use money to enhance our happiness.

Wealth does not equal freedom and our financial assets cannot replace an inner sense of wealth. If material wealth is being used to replace inner wealth, the emptiness and sense of scarcity, separation, or absence will remain. Our work is to build our inner wealth.
Whom is the e-book aimed at: advisors, end-clients, others? All of them? 
The e-book is aimed at a general audience because the principles are true for all, but I have mentored HNW clients for more than 20 years, and I have drawn on these experiences, while preserving their anonymity. The tone of the e-book and examples used are directed primarily towards high net worth and ultra-HNW individuals. 

We all have relationships with money, just as we have relationships with people. We express our desires, needs and beliefs within those relationships in patterns that are positive, negative or neutral. Identifying our beliefs and emotions in relation to money can help us to develop new patterns if existing ones are detrimental. I hope both clients and other advisors in the private client space will find these insights helpful.

How have recent periods of market turmoil, the pandemic, changing technologies and developments in society, influenced your thinking?

Recent market shifts have underlined the validity of understanding trauma as the basis for so much of our human behaviour, especially when the shifts tap into old, unrelated fears. This influences how we spend, save, and invest throughout our lives. 

Many of us are afraid to lose our wealth, which is why most investors prefer to mitigate loss on the downside than to make gains on the upside. I lost substantial investment value in 1987 and 2008 and the second experience caused me to withdraw from the stock market during one of its best streaks in recent history. I hope I have now healed that wound, allowing me to make future investment choices from a conscious, considered position rather than being driven by an old fear of loss.

When looking at the developed world, what are the main problems in managing money and wealth that you see? What are the main mistakes people make that they need coaching over? 
Wealth management behaviour is often not aligned with an individual’s expressed core values, which may have become hidden under layers of cultural “norms” and perceived societal expectations. And many of us can no longer feel or sense ourselves, so we do not operate as thoughtful people who actively seek to do what is right for us and for society. Rather, we follow what we believe the world and the wealth management industry say about being a smart investor/owner. 

The fact that money has power in society means that unless we make a decision to become more conscious about how we use it the ramifications of our choices can be sub-optimal or even destructive.

The main goal is to help people understand their life experiences so they can heal, as necessary, and make conscious choices about what they want to achieve with their wealth. This requires articulating the specific purpose of their wealth which many individuals are unable to do.
What impact do you want the e-book to have? 
I hope the e-book will raise awareness about the role of trauma in our relationship with money, in turn leading to compassion for all of us who are struggling to manage and own our money in more generous and connected ways as well as identifying new ways to express ourselves financially. This will encompass an assessment of our wealth management strategies adopting more suitable alternatives when appropriate.

Where do you see wealth managers doing good work and improving how wealth management is conducted?
I see positive incremental changes in multiple places across the wealth management sphere, especially pertaining to relationship managers honing their skills and becoming increasingly adept at understanding their clients. This will go a long way towards helping clients to articulate and pursue their objectives for their wealth. 

This means relationship managers being genuinely curious about what drives their clients, as well as compassionate because they are privy to their clients’ limitations. An acknowledgment of the impact of trauma on all our lives and how this correlates to our relationships with money would be a significant shift in the wealth management industry, with the potential to enhance client services and approaches to investing.

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