Financial news and advice — August 2015

As wealthy as they are, millionaires still worry about losing their savings, a new study shows. Plus, Einstein’s former accountant has passed away.


No rest for the wealthy

Regardless of how rich millionaires are, they still fear they could lose it all with one wrong move, finds a US study by UBS Wealth Management. Half of investors with US$1 million to US$5 million worry that a major setback, such as a job loss or market crash, will ruin their lifestyle, as do a third of investors with more than US$5 million. For millionaire parents working full time — say, like Yahoo’s US$42.1-million a year CEO Marissa Mayer, who famously returned to work immediately after having her first child in 2012 — the anxiety is even greater: 63% stress about maintaining their lofty lifestyle.


Einstein and me

Albert Einstein


Mary Christina McNamara, former accountant to Albert Einstein, died earlier this year at age 99. She handled the famed physicist’s financials in Princeton, New Jersey, more than 50 years ago and, according to reports, told the following story at a “Theory of Relativity” commemorative celebration in 2005: one afternoon over tea, Einstein asked if McNamara understood his theory of relativity. When she said no, he conveyed surprise that such a smart, educated woman did not get it.

Makes us wonder, though, would Einstein have understood IFRS?


Accountant grew drugs to pay debts

It sounds like a Breaking Bad ripoff, except this guy’s for real. Sean Antony Birdsall, a UK accountant and former producer of a North Yorkshire music festival, accumulated more than £50,000 ($95,00) in debt when the festival became insolvent. In an attempt to pay off the debt, he set up a cannabis farm in 2013 and went into the drug trade (as one does). Birdsall pleaded guilty to supplying and possessing cannabis and received a suspended prison sentence of nine months. As an accountant, you’d think he’d have come up with a better debt reduction strategy.


It’s not so bad, is it?

Despite the many headlines that indicate Canadians are taking on too much debt, this is simply not true, The Fraser Institute reports. While debt levels are growing, the think-tank suggests this should be measured against the value of assets owned by Canadian households (mostly equities and real estate), which increased 31% between 2010 and 2014.


Less pay, more happy

High income or a partnership does not correlate with happiness or well-being, according to research published in the George Washington Law Review. The study of 6,200 lawyers found those who worked in lower paying public-service jobs, such as public defenders, were the most likely to report being happy. In addition, junior partners and senior associates reported the same level of well-being, despite a 62% discrepancy in salary.