Communication

Managing The Rise In Clients Non-Financial Issues

Pull Up The Couch For Your Next Financial Client

According to David Dubofsky, Ph.D., CFA, and Lyle Sussman, Ph.D. in their study, “The Changing Role of the Financial Planner Part 1: From Financial Analytics to Coaching and Life Planning”, approximately 25% percent of the financial advisor’s contact with clients is devoted to non-financial issues. About 74% percent of planners estimate that the amount of time they are spending on these issues has increased over the last five years. Source

There is mounting evidence to show that financial advisors indeed have to radically change their approach to the way they relate to investors.

Money has always been a ‘touchy’ ‘emotional’ subject. Whether discussions resolve around – making it, losing it, sharing it, incorrectly quoting about it i.e. “money is the root of all evil” when the correct quote is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Timothy 6:10 – the topic can become toxic.

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Why then are we surprised (as I was) to find financial therapists popping up in our world? Or why do we think that financial advisors need to know all about our life and emotional state like a doctor? Is it unlike the mechanic that inquires about our driving habits as part of diagnosing a problem, or advising if those squeaky brakes need to be changed sooner than later? In that case, we’ve surrounded ourselves with all sorts of professionals and experts, acting as doctors and therapists to help us along in meeting our daily needs and lifelong goals.

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Source Photographer: Josh Dickinson

Well, it’s actually quite simple really: the majority of us have no idea what triggers we inherently have that govern the way we manage our finances. We would be alarmed to know we have inherent behavioral biases. We would cringe at the thought of having allowed the bankruptcy our grandparents suffered to dictate the ugliness with which we now accumulate and “store” our wealth.

But take heart these triggers can be revealed, they can be managed and we can work with our financial advisors to develop plans to create wealth that line up with our life goals and values.

In his book Behaviorally Smart Financial Planning: Behavioral Finance Made Practical for Advisors’ Hugh Massie makes the following comment, “Observations and traditional risk profiles don’t get below the surface where much about investor behavior is hidden. Financial advisors should know how to uncover what is happening as investors think through’ decisions.”

The truth is financial advisors need to know how to uncover what lies below the surface of our decision making. They need to know what historical events impact our view of creating/managing wealth. So yes, they do have to approach the advisor/investor relationship a bit differently today. But here’s the good news, they don’t have to spend 8 years or so studying to become a doctor.

The right tools and training for uncovering our core natural behavior is the key. For example, DNA Behavior International has a significant discovery platform called Financial DNA that reliably discovers all dimensions of an investor’s financial personality and inherent bias for making life and financial decisions. The discovery process is fast and accurate and places vital information in the hands of financial advisors before the first meeting with their investor clients.

Investors need an advisor who can guide them towards making informed decisions, one who speaks to them in a style that’s easily relatable while mitigating emotional, kneejerk responses. Emotion plays a significant role in so many parts of our lives that having an investor to coach us through the feelings and reactions, and keep decision making on the right track is necessary.

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Source

Financial advisors must understand their clients at a deeper level. It is essential to have a practical understanding of the psychology, emotions and biases that significantly influence investor’s imperfect decision-making patterns. Furthermore, advisors should understand how to recognize and manage their own biases when working with investors.

Ultimately, it is fair to say that the role of the financial advisor has changed, and will continue to do so. But there is no doubt that with a reputable and appropriate process, advisors can be well informed in advance of a first investor meeting.

Conversations around money will always be complex. While we talk more freely about other intimate subjects, when money enters the conversation, emotion, distorted stories, ego, and even fear enter right along with it.

In conclusion, if we understand our financial behavior then we can balance our emotions and beliefs. We will act more wisely with our money. Conversely, if we lack understanding and are confused about why we make certain decisions, then the decisions will be poor, creating financial chaos and discontent. Advisors need to be fully equipped and prepared to unravel investor’s complex issues around money. Investors need to be able to trust advisors in order to reveal information.

Advise Your Advisor On How To Advise You On Financial Advice

Advise Your Advisor On How To Advise You On Financial Advice

Your Advisor’s not telling you that your long-term financial goals may be out of sync with the level of risk you’re willing to take in order to reach them. No risk, no reward, right? It’s time to advise your advisor on how to advise you on financial advice.

According to a recent survey by asset manager Natixis, while about 73% of investors polled said that pursuing returns is more important, nearly 84% also said they would choose safety over risk.

So how can you balance increasing assets vs. tolerating risk? And how do you relate this to your advisor? For financial advisors, this balance presents a challenge as well. How your advisor is able to accurately assess this is by delving into your core natural risk propensity and tolerance, part of your financial personality.

The opportunity is to educate your advisor on realistic expectations and strategies to best reach your goals. And while he or she has the tools and training available to them in order to help you along, not everyone is onboard with matching your individual personality behaviors with your personal financial goals.

Where advisors often fall short is not identifying all of the risks associated with your particular situation: investment, financial, and personality risks. This is an important factor because under stress, you might not be as clearheaded or know all the ins and outs of a given situation in order to rationally process what’s happening and make behaviorally smart decisions. You very well may be operating based on your core natural behavior.

As you’re transitioning jobs, getting married, buying a house or preparing for retirement, you’re under a lot of financial stress – worries regarding accumulating wealth may push you into new, riskier investment decisions. Then add market volatility, unforeseen personal events or escalating college tuitions or long-term health care costs, or the emotions associated with being in the “withdrawal stage” rather than “accumulation phase”, and you’re pushed according to your core natural behavior. In many cases, this mix of stress and decisions based on your reaction to that stress is not beneficial for the long-term success of financial goals.

Your financial advisor needs to be in a position to manage not only your portfolio, but protect you from your natural self. This is an important step in the investor/advisor relationship and necessary to your financial success, because under stress, your risk behavior is less predictable without an objective tool. You may want to jump at every opportunity, or over-spend, or take no action at all. This is where knowing your behavioral insights and communication style, help your advisor help you and your significant other.

In many cases, a couples’ behavior will be directly opposite one another. So there is an added challenge for your advisor to know the behavior of each of you in order to address both in different ways.

So, how do you uncover these behavioral risks?

You need an objective, third party system so that your behavior, under stress, becomes more predictable and therefore can plan accordingly. Then, in combination with your experience and wisdom, discovering your financial natural behavior will allow you to become a behaviorally smart investor and provide valuable insights to your financial profile. It’s an enlightening process to see if your advisor is right for you, and then in turn, to see if you’re a match to them. And who knows? With these insights, you may find out a lot more about yourself and your partner, than you’d previously known.

Be sure to discover all of your risks originating from your natural core behavior. It’s the only way to protect you, from yourself. And it helps establish a trusting relationship with your advisor to create a financial plan that is as unique as you.

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Be-Fi for the DIYI (Behavioral Finance for the Do-It-Yourself Investor)

The oldest advice in the financial world: buy low, and sell high. And easy to follow too, right? Then how come we’re not all gazillionaires? That’s the Behavioral Finance $25,000 question.

First off, maybe a gazillion bucks isn’t everyone’s goal, but even moderate growth on savings over time in preparation for retirement shouldn’t mean we suffer losses over and over again along the way. So beyond market volatility, what are the factors for our repeated or short-sighted poor finance decisions?

Let me share a story.

Years ago I got a “hot stock tip” from a buddy, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Between his recommendation and the historical value showing nothing but upward mobility, why not? Well, it hit. A solid 34% gain in just about a month. Amazing, right? I was so excited, I could barely wait to see what it would do next. And that’s the turning point. A couple of dips later, I still had a significant gain, but I was going to ride it all the way back up. It had to bounce back, right? That’s optimism bias. So to remove myself from further discouragement, I opted to not check it daily, even weekly. And in about the same amount of time of its rise to greatness, it dipped to pennies on the dollar below my initial buy-in. What happened? I got greedy? I didn’t set limits (gain or loss)? I got caught in the Herd-following bias. I was following the lead of the others instead of the hard facts, or following a set plan.

Well, I finally got around to telling my Financial Advisor. Even though she’s entrusted with my long-term savings plans, I’d not considered sharing my “fun experiment.” She took one look at the company’s performance and simply said “they’re awful, sell it while you still have something. And next time, check with me first”. Good advice, but not what I wanted to hear. So, I kept it anyway, even in light of overwhelming odds. That’s Overconfidence Bias.

It’s been almost 6 years of hanging onto to this one-time trading nightmare. At least, we weren’t “missing” the money, just sad to have seemingly blown the wad. On a positive note, I’m on the cusp of another big potential return. A rental house we bought at the bottom of the market and now, with a little elbow grease, is primed for resale. Bought, mind you, with our Financial Advisor’s full support. It’s our backup plan if we both lose our jobs and need to get out of our big, nice house quick. We could downsize finances in a hurry. Anyway, the silver lining, since I’ve held onto the dog of a stock, is to sell it when we sell the house and take the stock loss to offset the house profit. Not brain surgery, but in sync with our advisor’s input.

A nice story about Behavioral Bias and advisor communication, but let’s get back to the Financial Personality of a person who might seem to haphazardly buy high and sell low, when they meant to do otherwise, and how this affects long-term financial planning efforts.

Our Financial Personality covers both innate and learned behaviors in regards to our financial decisions. It also includes our behavioral biases, communication style, and Market Mood. So knowing one’s Financial Personality is the key to developing financial goals and then the plan to achieve them. This transparency in truly understanding ourselves helps us navigate volatile market events and stay on point for the greater good. Your Financial Advisor has assessment tools that can quantify your personality traits. There’s a self-guided version posted here (personal assessment) to try for yourself.

 

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Another integral part in working with your Financial Advisor, or any business colleague, friend neighbor or significant other, is communication. Recall that I included my advisor on the house purchase, but I only spoke with friends on the stock ordeal? Well, we all have our own communication style. And we tend to run in circles where our own style is fairly prevalent — learned from families and developed amongst friends. But in the business world, good communication is key to being understood, and understanding others. And we won’t always get to choose to (or from) whom we engage. So we have to learn to adapt (or be left behind). Wouldn’t you want a way to identify how you come across to others or how best for others to engage you? Well, there are assessment tools for this too. Again, here (communication style) is an assessment you can try, and even share with others.

It’s no coincidence that I included the interactions with my Financial Advisor as part of my financial thrill of victory and agony of defeat. She was and continues to be in my corner for staying on course and avoid making bad decisions when the terrain suddenly changes. And some mistakes have wholly been on my own. Now, this may not be the case for everyone, and that’s why we’re kicking off this discussion — to find the peaks and valleys of our financial journeys and help one another along the way. If you’re interested in seeking an advisor, or already have one, and want to share what’s being discussed here, please check out this advisor finder.

 

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Likewise, tune in for more Behavioral Finance for the DIY Investor over the next several weeks as we cover the many ways our Financial Personality, Behavioral Biases and Communication Styles affect, and are affected by, our relationships with our friends, family, Business and Financial Advisors.

So You Think You Are A Good Communicator

So You Think You Are A Good Communicator?

How many people who call themselves “good communicators” use the below logic to justify their claims:

  • “I know how to read people”
  • “I know people like them, they all work the same”
  • “I’m good at reading body language”
  • “I know this stuff so well I can teach it to anyone”

Would you describe yourself as a good communicator? Research shows that you will naturally connect with only 30% of the clients you meet. That leaves the overwhelming majority of people in the category of needing to adjust your behavior to meet their needs. But, how do you do that?

  • Does your client need concrete examples (Information) or just the big picture (Goal-Setting)
  • Will they want to know what other people are doing (Lifestyle) or do they want research to support a decision (Information)
  • Do they need help and support to get comfortable so that it feels like the right decision (Stability Style) or do they just need the rational bullet points (Goal-Setting)

While it is entirely possible for some people to really connect and engage with anyone they meet, they are the definition of “few and far between.” This brings up the question of “Why?” Through the use of behavioral science, you can better understand the natural tendencies of your clients, which will allow you to be a proactive manager of your clients’ needs. The use of a behavioral tool has also been proven to show a return of 150 bps to your AUM (Source:The Advisors Alpha: Putting a Value on Your Value, Vanguard 2015). So, adding a tool to your resources gives you a new differentiator between you and your competitors.

If there is a proven method available to ensure you can connect with absolutely every type of person, why wouldn’t you use it? Behavioral Science can help you accomplish your goals by giving you easy tips on how to engage different styles by making small adjustments to tailor your communication with your clients and prospects. Having this tool can turn you into someone with the ability to communicate with anyone, regardless of whether it comes to you naturally, or not.

What’s your communication style?

Kill Me Its Another Meeting1

Kill Me It’s Another Meeting

Some meetings should never take place!! When the leader of the meeting has no control over them, they are a waste of time.

According to research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. And with an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted. Source

11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion. Source: (accessed 4/18/15). – Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost?, CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012).

The most frustrating meetings are when the boss let’s those with the loudest voice have too much time. Even trying to shut them up (politely) just doesn’t work. Then there’s the person in the room whose whole body language says, I know best; no one else’s opinion matters’. What about the colleague who has plenty to say on the way to the meeting, and just sits there and says nothing in the meeting. Poorly run Meetings are an expensive waste of time

Kill me its another meeting2.jpgSource: Google images www.annmarieklotz.com

Howard is compliant, hesitant and diplomatic. He is well liked and respected among most of his team and peers. But when leading staff meetings, Howard fails to control difficult people who upset the balance of the meeting and leave most of the remainder of the team wishing they were somewhere else.

The discussions tend to be unbalanced and very little gets resolved or decide upon.

Phil is the CEO and on one occasion sits in on the team meeting. He senses the atmosphere has no healthy positive energy; it’s heavy and negative; people are frustrated and deflated. Nothing is agreed. Phil knows he needs to work with Howard to improve his leadership skills.

Phil is goal driven, ambitious and yet understands the impact of knowing how to communicate with a range of people. Phil appreciates the importance of getting results through people management and strong strategic leadership.

Using his own experience as an example, Phil talks to Howard about how he felt when leaving the meeting. He explained that Howard needed to change the dynamic of the meeting in order to ensure people didn’t leave feeling frustrated, deflated and lacking a sense of direction. Phil explained to Howard the relevance to his leadership style of understanding behaviors. Further, he talked about the significance of becoming more effective and efficient in terms of managing individual communication styles. He explained that leadership required a person to adapt their own behavioral style to build relationships and meet the performance needs of a specific situation and in this scenario to manage meetings more effectively.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

Had Howard understood the dynamics and communication styles in the room and gained insight into his own communication and behavioral approach, he would have known how to manage individuals and control the meeting. Phil used examples of how he should be communicated with to help Howard understand communication styles. He then contrasted that with how Howard would wish to be communicated with. Very quickly Howard realized that he needed to gain insight into understanding communication styles if his meetings were to be effective in the future.

Howard

  1. Allow a short time to discuss family, life and non-work issues upfront
  2. Communicate at a slower pace and do not make them feel pressured – keep it even
  3. Have office meetings in a more living room environment
  4. Show with empathy that you care about their well-being and desire the best outcome for them.
  5. Give them step-by-step instructions to avoid any feelings of chaos.
  6. Provide lower end estimates of returns and keep them diversified
  7. Communicate security and the safety buffers
  8. Ask them how much contact they would like with you and what type (email, phone etc.)
  9. Indicate your feelings about the recommendations and get them to discuss theirs
  10. Invite them to group workshops and demonstrate how solutions work

Phil

  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers
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How Do I Get People to Listen to Me?

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker

How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.

60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.

Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.

Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer. Harvard Business Review

Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:

  • Learning Style
  • Communication Preferences
  • Information needs for Decision-making

Iceberg picture

With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)

8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:

If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:

1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.

2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.

If you are interacting with a Lifestyle primary communication type:

3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.

4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.

If you are interacting with a Stability primary communication type:

5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.

6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.

If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:

7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.

8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.

What’s your communication style? For more information on the research, how it works, or how to apply this knowledge, contact inquiries@dnabehavior.com.