Behavioral Finance

Money Influences Leadership

In recent weeks I have been doing some leadership development consulting and coaching. The goal of this work has been mainly to help the leaders to build their emotional intelligence and then generally their self awareness of what is driving the decisions they are making.

Typically, most leadership development work of this kind focuses on the person’s behaviors, experiences, the influences of the environments they are in and have come from, their skills and knowledge, and even their states of consciousness. All with the goal of helping the leader understand themselves better and becoming more empowered. Then there is also training on specific leadership methodologies and strategies. None of these factors are to be underestimated as being unimportant, because they all are.

However, there is one factor often missing from the discussion — and that is money. The reality is that the topic of money is missing from the coaching agenda full-stop. Why? Talking about money can be a very emotionally charged issue for both the leader and the consultant/coach. Many people are, when it gets down to it, mystified by money and the power of its impact.

The reality is, money is directly or indirectly wrapped up in some way with every decision that a person makes, and is therefore a very powerful influence. Leadership decisions are no different. You only have to look at some of the decisions made by leaders in the last 10 years and see the devastating outcomes resulting in spectacular corporate collapses, insider trading, bankruptcy. Also, the great corporate performances can be attributed to a healthy money attitude.

Yes, money can be the carrot to incentivize performance, but it can also be the driver of warped decisions. Lets not say all of the bad decisions are deliberate because they are not. Some of them are caused by blind spots or put in another way, a simple lack of awareness.

Nevertheless, the point is that your perspective on money, whether conscious or not, influences your leadership – the decisions you make, the goals you set, action plans, how you manage yourself and others and so on.

So, reflect on how your leadership is influenced by money. Perhaps understanding your own relationship to money will improve the quality of your leadership, corporate results, and ultimately your life.

Information Flows Drive Energy

Last night I was called by a family friend (for the sake of the innocent, Amy) who was being pushed by an advisor to make a major decision in regard to transferring her retirement savings account. Why was Amy asking me the question?

Basically, she was feeling uncomfortable and very hesitant. And yet, Amy is normally a very confident decision-maker and is not completely inexperienced with financial matters.

The reason is that Amy’s financial advisor had made the recommendation and given her a huge envelope of documents to work through and absorb. Amy did not even know where to start. The whole thought of this was energy draining. Then the questions of what is the bottom line, what are the risks etc all come up. In essence, her level of trust is diminished.

The issue is not the fact that a proposal has been made. It is all about how the information has been provided. What you need to realize is that this was then negatively affecting Amy’s energy. What will happen? She could just make the decision and regret it later, or simply dismiss the proposal.

So, I gave Amy the very simple, but liberating solution, of asking her advisor to re-frame the proposal and provide in a summary format the benefits and costs of both the new solution and retaining the existing solution. The details can be checked afterwards as needed – which a detailed person will do.

What I am saying is that if you are the client, ask your advisor to communicate on your terms and then it will be easier to make a decision with comfort. If you are the advisor, build trust with your clients by asking them how they want the information provided. You may find that you will have a much happier and ultimately profitable client.

When people hesitate it is very often simply the way they have been communicated with. The information flows drive your energy to make good or bad decisions.

Balancing Life Return and Financial Return

The other day, I was having a philosophical discussion with one of our Wealth Mentors about the role of advisors in the life of a client. “Around the traps”, very often wisdom is brought up, or providing peace of mind, and of course, managing the performance of investments and overall financial stewardship.

None of these are incorrect and they are no doubt part of it. In recent times, I have pinpointed helping clients find “BALANCE” as being extremely important. That is balance between life and money. After all, life and financial decisions are completely integrated. Many financial decisions are a reflection of your life and behavior. Key to finding balance is helping the client objectively understand their inherent strengths and struggles based on who they uniquely are, and then their preferences. So, the balance will be different depending on our different behavioral styles.

Everyone has to be accountable, including the financial advisor. So if we take BALANCE as the platform, then how should the advisor be measured by the client. To a large degree, the advisor is responsible for communicating the right message – which comes down to understanding his or her own role. So perhaps the messaging needs to be more of the flavor: “If I help you discover what you want and help you get it – does it matter what financial return you get?” This is not saying financial return is unimportant, just not the only priority.

Further, as a life issue think about the fact that alot of money does not necessarily provide freedom, and too little does not either. Depending on who you are there is a comfortable balance. The role of the advisor is to help you find yours and keep you on that path.

What Are You Passionate About?

In recent weeks, I have had so many conversations with people where passion has come up in various ways. So, I thought it would be good to put some more energy into it by commenting on it in my blog. I even did a very interesting interview with one of our Wealth Mentor’s last week on how he had found his passion and what it has meant to his life over the past few years.

My approach in working with client’s has been to fairly early on in the conversation ask them: What are you passionate about? I have found this to be a very powerful question in finding out where their life is at and where they want to go. This is so important if you are helping someone set their goals and direction. I do not really believe you can do financial planning for a person without knowing their passion because it is so fundamental to their life. Having clarity of your passions regardless of what they are means you can make decisions with confidence and commitment. 

When you think about it, this question is very important regardless of what role you are playing in the person’s life. If you are a business consultant of any sort it is important. Or even if you are just a friend, coach or in some way have an interest in the person’s life the question will really open up a great discussion. 

Discussing passion will really help you get below the surface and connect with the person. You will build a fantastic bond and it is likely the memorability factor will be high. You may even change the person’s life because they will be liberated to reveal something that is core to their life which they had not been fully conscious of. This happened to me, and it set me on the path I am on now. 

So, think about bringing this question into every conversation. It may also bring you closer to your own passions.

Sow Into Others Lives and Grow Your Own

Last week a colleague of mine sent me the following quote:


Every time you build into the life of another person, you launch a process that will never end. ? Howard Hendricks

This quote has a very powerful message which I feel all of us should think about and action.

You do not necessarily need to be a wealth mentor or a life coach to help others build their lives. Although, this level of focused training and the personal development coming with it will help you have enormous impact.

Regardless, of what you are doing in your life or where you are at, helping others in some way to build their lives will be a powerful experience for them and for you. You can do this as simply as asking them a great question, being curious about them, going for a walk or doing an activity together, sharing a story, writing an article that gets published to the masses or delivering a workshop. There are many ways to impart your wisdom and life experiences.

Think about what might happen if you help somebody else grow in their lives. They will remember the moment, become more empowered and ultimately want to help many others. They will do it subconsciously any way because of their own growth, but even better if it is intentionally done.

In essence, by helping others grow and build their lives you will be part of a movement which will have amazing and never ending impact.

In recent times, I have become a lot more intentional about helping others of all ages through helping them discover their life purpose. I have found that when people discover their life purpose they want to share the experience with others. What is your life purpose? How could you help other people grow in their lives?

Who is Your Client?

I have had some really interesting conversations with advisors during the past few weeks during presentations. In particular, when I have been talking about family dynamics and asking the question who is your advice really impacting?

Generally, the obvious answer would be that your client is the person who currently has the wealth for which financial planning is required (the Wealth Holder). What about the beneficiaries of the wealth? Their lives are generally being impacted by the decisions that get made in the financial and estate plans. To some degree arent these beneficiaries also your client? In providing advice, you need to understand the unique behavioral styles of BOTH the Wealth Holder and the beneficiaries. If you do not take into account the unique financial personality of the beneficiaries then the plan could be useless once the wealth does transfer to them. Isnt this at least partly why we see so many financial and estate plans practically fall apart, breakdowns in family relationships, and generally dysfunctional behavior?

Also, as an advisor by learning to discover who the beneficiaries are during the life time of the Wealth Holder will help you cement long-term relationships with them.

Another interesting scenario that often comes up is that the person requesting the advice and/or managing the wealth is different to the Wealth Holder. For instance, if a son is managing the financial affairs of his mother whose behavioral style do you need to understand? Is it the mother or the son, or both? I have seen many financial advisors get into difficulties by not truly understanding the financial personality of the son. To a large degree you are dealing with the behavior of the son. You will need to know how to communicate with him and also how his view of the world impacts the planning for his mother. After all, the son will see the world through his lens.