Financial Personality

Understanding Your Financial DNA

Rick Helbing,? a Certified Financial Planner who provides strategic financial planning to Medical Professionals, Dental Professionals, and Family Business Owners, discusses the importance of understanding your Financial DNA in his Fresh Financial Ideas blog.

“There once was a time when you might meet with a financial advisor for an hour or two. He or she would look over your assets, liabilities, risk tolerance, and maybe your current insurance coverage.? The two of you might discuss the rate of return you would like to see on your investments and your risk comfort level. In a few days, your advisor would return with a financial package, full of recommendations on how you should invest your money.

But how well does that advisor really know you?? Did that one-hour conversation really tell the advisor about your deepest dreams? Did it really reveal your approach to money?? Does your advisor now have any understanding of the responsibilities you shoulder for your family or for your employees?? Does your advisor know anything about how you like to communicate and make decisions? ?Does your advisor know your story?how you got to where you are today? Does your advisor even care about any of that?or ?is the primary concern to offer you a?return?on your assets?

If money is a tool to help you reach your larger goals, then it behooves a good advisor to know you, your values, and your goals very well.”

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Advisor Trust

The theme at this week’s FPA Conference in Anaheim centered on trust. Becoming the trusted advisor is not a new idea however, it is increasingly talked about.

The question is how do you become the trusted advisor? How do you accelerate trust in your advisory relationships, and for that matter in any relationship?

Building trust is directly related to how you behave in relation to others. What many do not know is that the starting point for trust starts with your behavior. If you do not trust yourself, then you will not trust others and others will not trust you. What we have learned from research is that some people are not naturally wired not to trust and hence will always have more inherent difficulty in building trusted relationships. So, these skeptical people have to be more conscious in developing trust with clients (and their team).

Interestingly, based on our extensive behavioral profiling of financial advisors, over 70% of them would be low on trust or more skeptical. So, why do you think there is such a lack of trust of our industry, and now being trusted is being valued so much? It is also fair to say that being completely trusting as a person can be naive. Some skepticism is reasonable so long as it is healthy.

Now, you need to address how you are going to improve your level of trust. The first step is gaining clarity of who you are, your talents and your life purpose. When you have the personal confidence to be who you are your fears start going away and generally trust builds. We help people through this step by having them firstly take the Business DNA Natural Talents Profile.
The second step is to uncover your client relationship management performance. We do this by having you take the AdvisorTRUST 360 Profile. In essence, the profile is a behavioral client performance evaluation. The process involves you rating yourself and having at least 3 clients each rating you on 75 performance items across the following 7 key areas:

1. Communication
2. Results
3. Relationships
4. Emotional Intelligence
5. Trust
6. Advisory values
7. Advisory competence

The profile report identifies areas of strength where you are positively building trust with clients and areas where further development is required.

With this information a coaching program can be put in place to help you improve your trust and level of client satisfaction. The reality is that every person will have performance aspects needing development across these 7 areas. Even those who inter personally may naturally build strong trust could be lower in demonstrating advisory trust in terms of the results and processes side of their service delivery.

If you would like to learn more and participate in the AdvisorTrust 360 Profile please contact us at

Partnerships and Money Personalities

In the past few weeks we have had a number of people contact us who are starting some form of business partnership together. Most of the time their request has been to find out more about their differences. Some of the typical issues they are seeking to understand are:

1. What are our different talents?
2. What should our role in the business be?
3. What areas do we have to watch out for?
4. Do we have shared values and purpose?
5. Who else should we hire?
6. How do we communicate with each other?
7. How do we hold each other accountable?

These are all very important questions and it is important they are always addressed in structuring and managing a partnership.

However, there is another dimension that needs to be understood and is seldom directly addressed. That is the influence of different money personalities.

1. What are the different money personalities of each of the partners?
2. What is each partner’s different relationship to money?

In essence, we need to know their DNA Behavior. How will each partner behave with money based on their financial behavioral style? This is absolutely critical to the success of the partnership. So often partnerships do not work or certainly fail to reach their potential because of the different financial attitudes. The different financial attitudes will have a large bearing on their respective goals, what each wants from the business, how they will handle money in the business, how the business is financed and the business development plans. You will even find the financial attitudes of the spouses will be important as this is another partnership to which each of the business partners is accountable and is strongly influenced by.

If one partner is more dominant, then his or her financial attitude will prevail and have a strong influence on the outcome of the business and the decisions. It is my experience from working with many partnerships, and first hand from being in partnerships, that each partner having a healthy relationship to money will be foundational to success. Just have a look at some partnerships that you know of that have worked and failed. Ask why? Money is nearly always there in a big way. Do not be afraid to find out the answers early as this will save a lot of pain later. This is important as having shared values and knowing your respective talents. If not understood, it will become a major road block.

Understanding Client DNA Behavior Under Pressure

When I was a financial planner and even before that a CPA, I had regularly observed that people’s behavior and decision-making patterns changed when they were under pressure; the pressure often being caused by money and relationships. This observation was fundamental to my thinking when I was building the Financial DNA Discovery Process with my team. We wanted to know what a person’s natural instinctive behaviors are as this would be key to predicting how they would really behave when there were difficult times and/or difficult decisions had to be made.

This plays into the research we recently did of 100 advisors with AUM over $50million. 70% of them said that they were surprised by their clients reactions. Why? Well, it is the natural DNA behavior taking over based on genetics and our very early life experiences which shape the neural pathways in the brain. In the good times, we all operate out of learned behaviors based on experiences, education and values. Hence, we have a greater chance of managing our emotions in favor of rationality. Under pressure, that switches.

It was interesting to read the Wall Street Journal Article on Saturday April 4 by Jason Zweig titled: “Influence of DNA on Your Investing Style in Troubled Times”. Whilst different methodologies were used to discover this DNA behavior than we use, the conclusion is much the same. Zweig made the following point based on his own interview with Dr. Ahmid Hariri at the University of Philadelphia: “There is always a tug of war inside each of us between nature and nurture. But during scary times like these, says Dr. Hariri, “environmental stresses can play a critical role in unmasking any underlying biases determined by your genes.” In other words, bear markets give nature the upper hand. It is now harder than ever to stick to the disciplines that can override your genetic impulses, but it also has never been more important”.

So, now more than ever is the time to truly discover your client’s DNA behavior and help them from the inside-out to achieve higher financial life performance.

Behavioral Profiles Leverage Your Intuition

In the financial services industry there are a lot of supporters for the use of behavioral profiles as part of the client discovery process and there are some detractors from using them. Like in any situation where there are detractors most have not yet had a positive experience or seen the full benefits or simply have been listening to the wrong information. This is human nature.

Overall, I do believe that you can never have enough information about yourself, your clients and also your team. As Benjamin Disraeli said: “The most successful people are those who have the most information”. Of course you also need to have the best and most accurate information.

In my past few blogs I have made a very strong case for how by discovering the behavior of your clients you can help them achieve better investment returns and overall make better decisions. So accepting there are very strong benefits for discovering the behavior of your clients, the question becomes how do you do it? This is where there is a great divide. Although, in my view an unnecessary division of thought and approach. At the center of great client discovery is asking the right questions, or what I call “powerful questions”. I believe this is more effectively done when you use behavioral profiles and your intuition, not one or the other.

For some, client discovery is only done by asking questions and gauging the reaction of the clients to the questions in terms of how they respond. To a large degree, in this situation the advisor is relying on their intuition to firstly ask the right questions and then secondly to assess the response. There is no doubt a person’s intuition can be very strong particularly with a lot of experience and high degrees of self understanding and overall good people skills or what we call emotional intelligence. However, no human being can be perfect and we all have “blind spots” or things we do not see. A person’s blind spots will also be carried across into how they see others. Your ability to understand another person can be significantly impacted by how you are on that day let alone how the client is on that day. So, no matter how good your intuition normally is it is not always going to be accurate. Nevertheless, do not discard your intuition. That “gut feeling” or pulse of energy can be telling you a lot even if you have not yet analyzed all of what it means. A behavioral profile will help you with that analysis.

I know that I am a highly intuitive person and naturally learn a lot about people from conversations and asking questions. This is particularly true now that I have learned to get out of my own way and also because much better listening and empathy skills have been learned. Even then I still do not see everything. I am able to go much further and make the person I am mentoring or conversing with feel far more understood when I use profiles.

The point is that the “human element” is variable and we cannot by ourselves see everything at all times. So, what can we do to make our intuitive radar stronger? This is where well constructed and highly validated behavioral profiling systems that objectively measure human behavior can be used to leverage your intuition. As is illustrated by the graphic, there is a great amount of “below the surface” information about a person you need to find out about very quickly to help them make the right decisions. Further, the person also needs to know it for themselves so the have personal clarity. Often the 10% we see on the surface is the “party manners” and not the real person.


The specific benefits of using behavioral profiles in the discovery process to build a financial life plan include:

  1. Enhanced objectivity, consistency and measurement
  2. No assumptions are made about the client
  3. The provision of a natural starting point for safe discussions with clients on their unique terms
  4. Separation of your and the clients emotions ? avoid advisor bias
  5. Acceleration of trust because the same discovery questions are asked of each person within a couple, family, team
  6. Clients are better equipped to better articulate their thoughts when emotional
  7. The ability to more quickly gain greater clarity of issues which you intuitively identify
  8. Specific identification of strengths, struggles, aptitudes which provides a human capital development framework for wealth mentoring and coaching
  9. The ability to better manage client expectations based on greater clarity of needs and goals
  10. Serve the clients on their unique terms: “one client – one plan”
  11. Meet the know your client rules because through better documentation and discussion of client behavior
  12. Increases the transferability of the client relationship because the client behavior is data based

In using a behavioral profile the key is to firstly understand the purpose of the instrument and what it was designed to uncover. Then secondly, understand how to properly use it in client facilitation to get the maximum benefit for you and the client. The great users of a behavioral profile understand it is a tool which gets below the surface but it is not a substitute for discussions. Further, one has to be realistic that even the most reliable and accurate profile will not tell you 100% of who a person is. However, they can tell you a lot. As already said the profile is supposed to leverage your insights and ultimately improve the client experience. The key is your “bedside manner” in using the profile.

Review Your Relationship with Money

Recently, I have had a great experience in reading a book called The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any person who is interested in better understanding their relationship to money. After all, this is what I have been advocating very strongly in my past few blogs. To become financially educated and realize your potential, you need to understand who you are and why you make the life and financial decisions that you do.

Maria’s book is very consistent with the philosophy that we have at Financial DNA that life and money decisions are totally integrated and interdependent. Related to this point Maria explains very well how ultimately, your success comes down to how you handle energy. The only difference is that Financial DNA goes one step further and provides a robust and University validated system to measure your energy based on profiling who you are.

In the book, Maria says that: “Our relationship with money is a metaphor for our relationship with all forms of energy: time, physical, vitality, enjoyment, creativity and support of friends”. She then goes on to explain that these energies are what empower our lives. Without any one of them our life becomes difficult. Each is interdependent. Your success and comfort with money will be echoed through all of these areas. Maria says that when you learn to use money energy, you can learn to use any form of energy with ease. Our process starts with a Quality Life Review so that we can see which of these areas you are currently strong in and those which are a struggle and need further development. This process is key to successful financial planning because it is sending a message of where potentially your energy is and where it needs to be.

Also, related to all of this we need to be clear about what is meant by “successful” people. This is not just about financial success. Maria defines successful people as those who have succeeded in using money to realize their hearts’ desires as well as people who have used money to become comfortable or wealthy personally and professionally.

Think about your own definition of success and your energy. How does that relate to money?