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Chair of the CBE Advisory Board Arun Abey AM and CBE Dean Steven Roberts (left to right) | Image: CBE

Chair of the CBE Advisory Board Arun Abey AM and CBE Dean Steven Roberts (left to right) | Image: CBE

What can happiness buy you?

17 July 2019

5 minute read

How does happiness create wealth? In a candid interview with ANU Alumnus Arun Abey AM, he shares his passion and insights on the intersections between happiness and wealth, and depth and breadth of his experiences at the Australian National University (ANU).

Arun has had a diverse career as an academic, author, entrepreneur, leading international executive at one of the world’s largest firms and a philanthropist. He is the Chairman and co-founder of ipac securities limited and the Chairman of Walsh Bay Partners Pty Limited, both prominent institutions for financial services. He was recently awarded an Order of Australia for his significant contribution to the financial planning sector and to the community. Moreover, Arun was also conferred with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of University, honoris causa in recognition for his exceptional contribution to ANU.

Q. You have been managing people’s wealth and wellbeing for the past 36 years. Which is the most significant intersection point between the two that you can identify?

The important, and perhaps surprising, relationship between happiness and wealth is that happiness enhances the prospects of sustainable wealth creation, rather than vice versa. Happiness here does not refer to the momentary feeling of joy but the deeper sense of wellbeing.

Contentment felt by individuals who have developed the ability to make choices based on what resonates deeply from within. The choices are strongly connected to their core values and inner strengths. In turn, this gives those persons the emotional strength to stick with disciplined strategies, which are critical to success either in business or portfolio investment. In addition, the fortitude of not being distracted by the herd or impulses of fear or greed. My research suggests that Warren Buffett was happy before he became wealthy and that his happiness was instrumental in his rise to becoming the world’s most successful and richest investors.

While the depth of ANU was particularly useful in developing strong analytical and problem skills, its breadth has helped to understand many things in perspective.

Q. You chair the CBE Advisory Board. What are your observations about the College’s growth and vision?

 The College is a powerful contributor of thought leadership to Australia in the fields of economic policy, finance, commerce and business. Moreover, as a graduate of the College I have found the rigour of its training invaluable. Not a day goes past when I do not use some aspect of the concepts or knowledge that I gleaned from my time as a student.  

Also impressive is the College’s ongoing vision for excellence, thought leadership and high quality research. The role of Advisory Board is to be an Ambassador of the College. To spread awareness to the outside world about CBE and what it has to offer, but also to bring back to the College an external perspective about the world – things that the College could learn, adopt and execute.

Q. You have been conferred with a Doctor of the University (honoris causa) in recognition of your exceptional contribution to the University, and your outstanding business and philanthropic endeavours. How do you feel about this achievement?

It is an exceptional honour to be granted and I am very grateful for it. However, I must say though that I think I have received far more from the University than I have given and that it is I who should be honouring the University. My ANU education has helped me to attain a privileged life – to be able to access things not available to everyone. For me, being able to use that privilege in turn to benefit the ANU and others less advantaged has been a very special thing.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs in Economics. Click here for more details.

Updated:   11 February 2020 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team