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Are you right or left brain dominant?

Wealth isn’t just a highly emotionally charged topic, it’s also somewhat of a societal taboo. Without the right mindset it can be incredibly difficult to comprehend one’s wealth properly. In this piece, we explore this complex dynamic and how right brain thinking can help


Ok, we’ll admit that the question may be a little unfair.

Rather than the human race dividing neatly into ‘two’ types of people, the right and left sides of our brains generally work in balance with one another.

But while we don’t have a ‘dominant’ side as such, science does tell us that each hemisphere of the brain is better at processing different functions: the left for aspects of language and logic; the right, intuition, emotive thinking and the creativity of asking ‘what if?’ rather than ‘what is?

The right/ left brain framework also acts as a valuable metaphor when it comes to conversations about wealth. In fact we believe in it so strongly, that we built Six Degrees on this very idea.

Wealth – and money more generally – is both a highly emotive topic and somewhat of a societal taboo. Western culture has an uneasy relationship with money; on the one hand the acquisition of wealth goes hand in hand with other cultural signifiers of success, on the other, discussing money out loud can evoke awkwardness and embarrassment – even amongst our nearest and dearest.

Disparity in wealth between friends can become a problematic or even a destructive force within a relationship, and learning what one’s colleague earns never usually ends well. Closer to home, it’s not unusual that even in adulthood, our own parents remain unaware of what we earn and vice versa.

On a deeper level, we fear derision, and we fear envy: how we’ll be thought of if we have too little, and what others will think if we have too much. Indeed, our own feelings of happiness are strongly influenced by conscious and unconscious comparisons between our lives and those of others, regardless of how accurate our idea of someone else’s life may or may not be. After all, outward signifiers of material wealth can often be confused with success in other areas.

Within this complex emotive soup, making significant liquid wealth – by for example, selling a business – can easily create a minefield, both for one’s emotional world and for one’s personal relationships.

Over the course of our careers, we’ve spoken with and advised many such individuals. And they each describe a similar scenario: while the company sale may have been in the works for some time, the cash arriving in the account still has the ability to shock and surprise.

Clients have told us of being overwhelmed by a range of unexpected and complex feelings when the money lands. Feelings of heavy responsibility are not uncommon, nor are feelings of disappointment, or even guilt.

However rather than discuss those difficult feelings with others, cultural norms compel us to keep them to ourselves. Not only is the burden of wealth generally not a palatable subject for conversation between friends, but it can also impact relationships and openness within a family situation.

Wealth lies uncomfortably in the centre of the Venn Diagram: by both provoking strong emotion and by being off limits for conversation, it joins sex and religion in its divisiveness.

So wealth lies uncomfortably in the centre of the Venn Diagram: by both provoking strong emotion and by being off limits for conversation, it joins sex and religion in its divisiveness.

And fundamentally this is why we feel that the left-brain falls somewhat short when it comes to the wealth conversation.

Because for most people, wealth does not simply mean money. In a survey we recently carried out, 70% of respondents told us that their wealth not only includes their tangible assets but also sentimental items, their health and their personal relationships. More broadly, wealth carries different associations for each and every one of us. For some it means security, for some it means risk and for others it means independence.

Understanding what it means and how best to navigate these complexities requires clients and their advisors to come to the table with their right and left brain working – as it was designed to do – in balance. There is a clear place for logic and numbers within the wealth conversation, in much the same way that there’s a requirement for technical competency when it comes to a medical consultation.

However the ability to tap into the emotional elements is crucial. It’s about understanding the meaning and associations an individual has with their wealth, and looking back at their life experiences to help determine its purpose. It’s about understanding their values and how those values originated. What could be achieved with the wealth rather than what is being achieved. Welcome to a ‘right brain’ conversation.

Ensuring that this conversation arises at the very outset of a wealth advisory relationship is one of the most important steps that we believe the industry needs to take. It’s something that we feel deeply passionate about at Six Degrees; an approach which ultimately leads clients towards greater awareness of their own motivations, their wealth’s purpose, and the right strategy for them. Something that the right and left brain can both get behind.




This insight is for information purposes and does not constitute financial advice, which should be based on your individual circumstances. The value of investments may go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time. The value of any tax relief depends on individual circumstances. Please note that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate some aspects of cash flow, estate or tax planning or trust advice.