Beliefs and Aliefs

Talk is cheap. It's easy to say things about how the world works. Or about ourselves. Or about our relationship to the world and other people.

What's interesting, is that people (myself included) often say one thing, and act another way. It's as if our "stated beliefs" are in contrast to the "actual beliefs" we have which dictate our behaviour. Our stated beliefs don't map the territory. 

I've long thought of this as a "reporting problem" - there's something lost in translation between our "actual" beliefs and the beliefs we report that we have. 

However, I've recently found a way that reconceptualises this even more elegantly.

I now distinguish between "beliefs" and "aliefs". Beliefs are those things that we say that we believe. Aliefs are the "beliefs" that we actually live by.

There may be cases where our "beliefs" and "aliefs" align. But there are many cases where they don't and that they are in contrast.

It's made me a lot more skeptical of my stated "beliefs". Equally, it makes me a lot more skeptical of people who self-disclose about personal characteristics.

In each case, it's easier to look to behaviour exhibited over time and infer a person's beliefs (or aliefs) rather than rely on the words they use.

Sonnie Bailey

Sonnie is the founder and principal of Fairhaven Wealth.

Before founding Fairhaven Wealth, Sonnie worked in the legal and financial services industries for over a decade.

Sonnie first became involved with financial advice as a specialist financial services lawyer. For many years, he was an “adviser of advisers”, reviewing thousands of advice files prepared by hundreds of financial advisers, and providing feedback in relation to the quality and appropriateness of advice; industry best practice; risk management; and regulatory compliance. He has published work in industry publications and spoken at various financial advice conferences.

Sonnie has also worked with banks, investment management firms, insurers, and derivatives providers.

Sonnie has worked as a private client lawyer, focusing on succession, estate planning and trusts. He ran his own legal firm in Australia before relocating to New Zealand. He has also acted in independent trustee and company director positions.

Sonnie is passionate about helping people achieve their goals and manage the risks to which they are exposed.

He has written extensively on his blog, New Zealand Wealth and Risk, which can be found at

Sonnie is married to his wonderful wife Chrissy, and has two young children, Ben and Anna.