Wealth is more than just money

By ATB Investment Management Inc. 14 December 2022 3 min read

Written by Jason Maniotakis, CFA, CFP, and co-authored by Roger Lydiatt, CFA, CFP and Alex Jones, CFA on behalf of Private Investment Counsel (PIC), ATB Wealth’s discretionary portfolio management team. PIC specializes in working with ATB’s high-net-worth clients.

One of the most interesting things about working in the high-net-worth advisory profession is hearing people’s stories: learning about their upbringing, their career successes (and failures), their families, and ultimately, how they want to be remembered when it comes time to transition their wealth to the next generation. What’s also interesting is to hear how different people define wealth, and what makes them happy. Everyone is different, and so is their perspective on money, the role it plays in their lives, and where it ranks in order of importance in the things that matter most.

The term “wealth” is typically associated with financial assets, or net worth, because it’s easy to quantify. But in our experience, it’s so much more than that. We find the people who feel the most wealthy possess a varying combination and abundance of the following:



Health is so easy to take for granted, especially when you’re younger. Whether it’s yourself, a family member, a close friend or a colleague, health can be taken away quickly, when we least expect it. When you’re not in good health, it’s  probably the only thing you wish you had. Making health a priority as early as possible helps to prevent the compounding of problems as we age. 



Time is a finite resource with an unknown expiry, and it’s largely tied to health. It’s wealth you can’t see, but it passes by quickly if you don’t stop and force yourself to enjoy it. Time is something that increases in value as we age, and unfortunately, we can’t buy any more of it. As it becomes more scarce, it becomes more invaluable. 



Relationships tend to become more cherished with the passing of time, and add to our overall feeling of wealth and happiness. As we age, our social circles become smaller, and those who matter the most are the ones you really enjoy spending your time with. Family becomes more important, and as it grows with more generations, the higher priority it becomes. Everything we do comes back to relationships with others. What good is time or money if you have no one to spend it with?



Experiences offer the opportunity to trade in financial wealth for experiential wealth. Fond memories of camping trips with family, vacations abroad or reminiscing about our youth tend to be the stories that are shared most often. I’ve yet to meet one person who regrets trading financial resources for memories that last a lifetime.



The more knowledge you gain, the more you realize how little you know. Knowledge is a unique form of wealth that increases with the passage of time. It’s a difficult thing to compare and contrast from person to person, but a worthwhile endeavor to expand. It not only provides for the ability to increase financial wealth, but it helps us appreciate everything around us that contributes to our overall happiness. The benefit of knowledge is immeasurable, because of its impact on our ability to feel truly wealthy. 



Financial wealth is money. It’s the simple and most obvious form of wealth. Because it’s easily quantifiable, it becomes a scoreboard for many, and can become a distraction in the pursuit of the other elements of wealth that often matter more. There are certainly areas of life that become easier and less stressful with financial wealth, but there is a point where each additional dollar becomes less and less of a contributor to feeling happy, and wealthy. The most dangerous part about the pursuit of financial wealth is the opportunity cost of the other areas of wealth that you need to sacrifice to get there.

As 2022 comes to a close and we reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead, take the time to reflect on these areas of your life that matter most to you, and make it a priority to pursue them in 2023. While we can’t control the markets and the returns that come from them, increasing your returns in these other areas will make you feel more wealthy overall. 

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