Behavioral Finance

pexels-photo-618613

When Consultants Unwittingly Sabotage a Business Opportunity

When I reflect on the many consultants I’ve worked with over the years and remember clearly those whose “pitch” for the work failed because they, a) haven’t researched me (their client), b) arrived with their own agenda but, more worryingly, c) were busy busy busy; lots to do.

Clearly, they were trying to make an impression, but it was a big fail.

Conversely, I wonder why it was that I was drawn to consultants whose “pitch” was low-key, informative, and balanced. They were punctual, they were prepared, and they left me with reading material and time to reflect and make my decision.

As a consultant, the primary role is to work with organizations in areas the client outlines.
Consulting assignments invariably begin with a problem. The client recognizes they have an issue that can only be resolved by hiring a specific talent, very often as a short-term project.

Consultants bring skills, experience and knowledge to their clients. They normally are not there to rewrite the company strategy, nor are they there to find endless fault in the hope of getting more business. The consultant’s contribution, therefore, can be defined as bringing specific skills needed within an organization for a set period.

Consultants that get repeat work are often the ones who work hand in hand with their client to fix the identified basic problem. They develop a process with which to address the problem and formulate a solution.

Consultants bring a much-needed objectivity, knowledge or innovative approach to organizations, augmenting and supplementing the teams within that organization.

There is a measure of scepticism around consultants, but when you work with a consultant whose business is ethical, where trust can be built, and where they make a valuable contribution to the business, I’m all for hiring them.

The consultants that made the greatest impression and, in fact, I hired, began the engagement not by telling me everything they could do for me, but by requesting I complete a DNA Behavior Natural Discovery process. This, they said, would enable them to deliver a meaningful client experience customized to my unique style.

The outcome was clear (and very accurate) insight

-Balanced -Discerning -Harmonious

I can guide people with feelings, together with the determination to reach goals and accomplish tasks. This blend of behavioral strengths makes me well-suited for situations where setting the agenda and recognizing the needs of other people are required. Further, consistency, reliability and persistence are important. I flourish in an environment where there is plenty of stability, group decision-making is needed, and where I am recognized for the contribution I make.

1.2

 

 

I was then presented with outcomes from the consultant’s DNA Behavior Natural Discovery:

- Ringleader – Assertive – Visionary

Influencers usually have a unique blend of confidence, initiative and people skills. They are typically able to see the larger vision and then use their superior communication skills to influence others towards accomplishing it. They will wholeheartedly invest time and effort into developing others and their personal performance towards goals, particularly strategies which they see hold significant potential.

2.1

 

Immediately, I could see that this insight, for both of us, ensured we understood each other’s strengths and limitations. We knew how to communicate with each other and, most importantly, as the client, I saw how important it was for the consultant to make it a priority to get to know my behavioral style. This impressed me. They were putting me and my needs above the issues, while being transparent about their own, dissimilar style of working.

This approach not only got them the business, and indeed repeat business, it also opened doors for me to see where a scientifically based data gathering tool could bring significant insight into the people in the organization.

As part of an ongoing relationship, the consultant introduced the DNA Behavior Natural discovery to many areas of our business. Teams began to accelerate their performance as they gained a deeper understanding of one another’s talents and behaviors.

This consultant had made a very valuable contribution the business.

As a consultant, do you want to know what unique behaviors you bring to the table? Try our complimentary Discovery now.

 

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

 

hand-2722098_960_720

Engaging Employees Toward Greater Financial Wellness

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

More financial advisors should be proactive in encouraging corporate clients to establish employee wellness programs which can be invaluable for employees. Successful employee financial wellness programs should include financial education and coaching from the financial advisor, which is a win-win-win, for advisor, employer and employees.

Consider these recent comments by Jim Harter, chief scientist of Gallup’s international workplace management and wellbeing practices, and author of its annual employee-engagement survey:

Companies that rank in the top 10 percent in engaging their employees… posted profit gains of 26 percent through the last recession, compared with a 14 percent decline at comparable employers. The tight labor market is raising the bar. Coveted employees simply aren’t all that interested in working for companies that don’t give them the level of trust and motivation they want.

I would go further and add that as uncertainty is a greater economic consideration, employees are worried about their financial well-being. And leaders have a responsibility to consider the financial well-being of their people.

They need to understand employees’ lives and career motivations, goals, spending habits and overall decision-making biases in order to empower them to achieve a greater level of financial wellness. Employees who are less worried about the economic future will perform better at work.

Talking about money has always been a closed topic. Financial problems can be a source of stress and shame for employees. Not only does it impact family relationships, but – and this might be tough to consider – it can cause rogue behavior within the organization.

Now, I am not saying that every employee who faces financial stress is going to divert assets from your organization. More often you’ll see increased absenteeism, preoccupation that results in lack of productivity and increased job transiency (they will leave you unnecessarily); issues an organization may have seen simply as HR-related.

A leader who tackles financial wellness openly by introducing well thought out programs can lift the veil on this sensitive subject and encourage employees to engage in these programs.

It’s important to be honest about the intentions of the financial wellness programs. While it’s a leader’s responsibility to want to enhance their employees lives, it’s also true to say that happy, debt free, wealth-creating employees will make the company more successful. It’s a win-win.

More than half of all employees want to make their own financial decisions but are looking to have someone validate those decisions. Employees want a financial wellness benefit with access to unbiased counselors and help understanding and using their benefits. So access to a financial advisor is critical to the success of financial wellness programs.

One important consideration for any employee wellness program: How well do you know your people? If understanding employees’ financial personalities was part of the hiring process, financial wellness programs could be more effectively targeted to help the employee.

The next generation of employee financial wellness program has two core components which have a behavioral foundation based on initially discovering the participant’s natural behavioral style – the core of who they are:

  1. Talent Management for Career and Financial Growth is focused on the employee having a productive career path based on what they are passionate about and being in the right role which they can personally and financially grow in.
  2. Financial Behavioral Management for Financial Life Growth is focused on the employee defining realistic financial life goals and desired life experiences for the building of a Quality Life. Then designing a financial plan (including investments) to achieve those goals. A key aspect of this component is management of risk, investments, spending and emotions.

There is only good in this approach – providing engaging financial wellness programs leads to less stressed and more highly engaged workers. Behaviorally smart leaders understand this, and the evidence is to be found in the success of their businesses. (As is often noted by Mr. Harter of Gallup.)

 

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

startup-593324_960_720

I did pre-hire assessments: What’s next?

This article first appeared on HR Management.

Having selected the candidates – which we talked about last time – then come the interviews. And, these can now be “behaviorally smart”, using questions based on the outcomes of the pre-hire assessments you’ve completed.

Well-structured resumes are not difficult to produce, with or without a professional writer. We also know that performing well at an interview might fall into the category of acting out a role. So, with the cost of a bad hire reckoned by some in the recruitment industry to be in the region of $240,000 per employee including salary, onboarding and training, getting the interview process right is crucial.

Historically, many times people are employed for their skills and knowledge and little or no attention is paid to identifying candidate’s true talents. Natural behaviors which continually and predictably repeat themselves over time and are often not easily seen in an interview.

Armed with the pre-hire assessment natural discovery outcomes, the interviewer is equipped to question candidates in a way that targets the behaviors hidden below the surface, now revealed through the discovery process. This makes behavioral questioning at the interview stage even more important.

Clearly, it’s key at the interview stage for interviewers to be aware of their own blind-spots. Without this insight, it could form part of the failure to uncover the natural behaviors of the candidates.

Both interviewer and candidate will have “learned” to operate a certain way, not necessarily in line with who they naturally are. Potentially, over time, and with pressure the natural behavior would emerge, and the candidate could well not be performing the way that was hoped and the interviewer might miss critical issues that need to be addressed with the candidate.

A key first step in pre-hire assessment and the behavioral interviewing process, is to understand what skills, talents and behaviors are already present in the business. This exercise reveals the gaps both in talents, behaviors and communication styles that need to be filled as part of the ongoing success of the business.

To avoid hiring based on empathy felt toward any particular candidate and moving away from the traditional interviewing style (“tell us about…”), behaviorally smart recruiters question candidates in ways that necessitating responses with stories about how, having faced a challenge or event in the past, they dealt with it. What they learned from the experience and how? With hindsight, how they would have done things differently?

Taking this conversational approach – informed and focused via your pre-hire assessment?- will reveal behaviors, communication styles, problem-solving skills and business maturity. That means better fit for role, team and culture, and, hopefully, longevity.

 

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

CEO Newsletter 2018 (7)

At the year end, looking at the year ahead…

The ever-quotable Warren Buffett says, “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.” Well, as we round out another terrific year, I want to challenge you a bit by noting that many of us regularly invest in people we may not understand. So, why make relatively blind “people investments” when you (hopefully) would not make such a financial investment?

Granted, I am a bit of a shameless evangelist for the power of validated behavioral insights, but I genuinely believe they are applicable – and I would venture imperative – across virtually any scenario, organization or industry. Harvard research tells us that 87% of business and life performance challenges are caused by behavioral differences. So, applying our proven online behavioral management solutions, may not take the number of those challenges to zero, but we can get you damn close.

One reason we can do that – in addition to our powerful products and processes – is that we have an impressive cadre of partners and colleagues who help us vet and deploy the solutions. In turn, our phenomenal clients invest in the process with us, providing valuable feedback that helps us – and them – play at a higher level. Winning is good, but a win-win is better.

It takes a (global) village

Because of those unparalleled alliances, we’re poised to not only play better in 2019, but to play bigger. Our team has discovered and embraced the book “Play Bigger”, which cleverly and clearly identifies the approach needed for positioning a company for high growth: It’s all about identifying the problem you are solving and setting your business up to be a category king (think Uber).

It is more about creativity in market positioning than directly disrupting an industry, though disruption can be the impact or part of it. Whatever work you are doing; this book is a “must read”. In fact, I am so enthusiastic about the book that I’ll commit to sending the first 18 people who respond to this (2019 will be DNA Behavior’s 18th year) the book – on me. Digital or hard-copy, your choice.

At DNA Behavior we are solving the problem of how an organization delivers meaningful customized experiences to its employees and clients on a mass scale. To do that you must know their unique style, and knowing their marketing “persona” based on demographics is not enough. Two people can have the same persona, but not the same personality. So, unless personality insights – beginning with communication insights – are integrated, you do not get there.

Meeting and exceeding the market

As we play bigger, we’ll be demonstrating, in the words of the book, what category we are king of: Online behavioral management. In 2019 we are launching our end-to-end real-time behavioral management tooling – a highly automated discovery profile debrief that is situationally dynamic. We already have this in Financial DNA with the “Market Mood” tool that integrates real-time stock market movements to behavioral style. But in 2019 we will take this further and also launch a platform for Business DNA. We can only do this now because technological developments allow us to, and the market place is demanding customization.

Thanks to you, 2018 has been a landmark year for landing major deals that implement our API strategy, through which we become the “behavioral chip” inside the tech platforms of other businesses. This helps us realize our brand promise of delivering meaningful experiences to employees and clients customized to their unique style. In particular, we have had success with large financial services firms and banks launching platforms in the employee financial wellness space. They all have very different angles and approaches – but the key point is that the online management of financial personality is here to stay and becoming a category king in its own right. This reinforces our strategy.

Validation and affirmation

We completed one of the world’s largest known behavioral finance studies looking at the financial behavior data of more than 35,000 people and how it connects to validated personality insights. The research demonstrates a high degree of alignment between the spending habits, planned giving, investing style and other behaviors to the personality style measured by DNA Behavior. We knew our system produces highly predictive results with a 91% overall reliability, this research confirms how people live it out.

Deloitte’s just-released 2019 Banking Industry Outlook also affirms our work and the path ahead we’ll be on with our banking (and other financial) partners and clients. This Big Four firm is optimistic, noting promising times ahead for banking and capital markets, as well as opportunities to double down on transformational technology, including an even better understanding and leveraging of data. We’re excited to be part of deciphering what that means to different organizations and helping them implement. (In the meantime, you may want to add this great Deloitte report to your reading list.)

We know what’s ahead; thanks for being part of it

Finally, our “why” in business is to foster people to become more self-empowered. The work noted above is a big step to achieving this “why” goal on a mass scale. We want to be part of changing the culture of business with the adoption of an Understanding People before Numbers approach. We know that, businesses of any category must do far more work in the area of culture if they are to grow on a sustainable basis. Behavioral management is just one of many components needed to build a strong culture.

Looping back to the wisdom of Warren, Buffett says, “Only when you combine sound intellect with emotional discipline do you get rational behavior.” I would posit that you also need that winning combination in order to optimize your organizational culture. So, in 2019 we will be championing the growth of culture and want all of you involved.

Let’s play bigger!

business-3152586_960_720

Sticking to an Authentic Behavioral Discovery Process

 

The process of gathering scientifically based behavioral data is interesting. Filled with comments and contradictions. We at DNA Behavior have seen and heard them all. The most often heard is:

  • that is such an accurate report about me
  • I thought completing the process would be easier
  • but the process was hard
  • I didnt know which way to respond
  • I had to just go for it
  • look at how accurate the outcomes are
  • I really like the DNA results, but the journey was hard

And so much more. We make no apologies for the 10-minute DNA Natural Behavior Discovery questionnaire using 138 different words in 46 inter locking Forced Choice Questions. The questions are deliberately tight so that a specific outcome is achieved. Definitely, a right data in, right data out approach has been taken.

We know the importance of being able to authentically defend our discovery process is why we are so well positioned in the market place. When the DNA Discovery Process was designed it was critical, too, that the questions removed situational, cultural and educational biases and could not be easily gamed. Further, at all costs we wanted highly predictive measurable behavioral insights which would be universally applicable across the globe for all people and remain true for the long term regardless of the situation or circumstances the person is in. In other words, it would get to the core of who the person is. We knew this holy grail of behavioral measurement could be achieved and is forever grateful for the knowledge and guidance of Carol Pocklington and Lee Ellis to show the pathway.

Yes, we could simplify the questionnaire, but, why would we? That said, we listened to our customers, and one of the important business keys we discovered was that customer concerns are a rich source of marketing material. One of our friends – David Rendell talks about in Freak Marketing that looking to your greatest weaknesses will be sitting your greatest strength.

If customers were loving the outcome but not the process, what was this saying about our discovery process? We discovered (though we knew it) that our process may be antagonizing our customers by the tight choices it asks them to make when choosing Most Like and Least Like from 3 non-situational words or phrases across 46 questions. Some say, I am all of those in about 6 to 8 of the questions.

What the questions are doing is getting the participant to prioritize their greatest strengths/talents. It is not saying for the 3 choices they are not like them in any way. In varying degrees, we exhibit all the words in some situations. It is more about how regularly and strongly the behaviors are exhibited.

Overall, we found ourselves being able to offensively defend the questionnaire since it more reliably delivered better, deeper and more incisive insights into unique behaviors over long time periods. Again, when you must make serious decisions, do you want to participate in a fun and sometimes lengthy process which gives you a shallow and unreliable result? Or, would you rather participate in a quick but tight process which provides a deep set of very accurate insights that will be true for your life time?

Our purpose with the DNA Discovery process is to uncover the natural DNA behavior that sits below the surface; it is not seen because it is masked by the more dynamic (situational) learned behaviors that are shaped by the persons life experiences, education and values.

Iceberg2

Therefore, a persons overall personality, at any stage of their life, may be seen to change, but their core natural behavior will remain very consistent. Further, revealing core natural behavior draws out their inherent talents, strengths and struggles (blind spots) and communication styles.

The DNA Behavior Natural Discovery Process was designed to holistically uncover, capture and measure all dimensions of a person’s natural DNA behavioral style as the core of their personality. That is their ingrained, go-to, hard-wired behavior that was set by the time they were 3 years old. This is how people inherently make decisions, take direction and work with others; how they interact and build relationships, achieve results, handle information, complete tasks, develop trust, set and achieve goals, take and live with risks and their learning styles. This also includes their communication style, financial decision-making style, behavioral (finance) biases and their response to market movement (as an example).

After significant academic research and discussions with our independent team of experts, we selected the Forced Choice Assessment Model over the more traditionally used Normative (Likert-type) Scaling Model for measuring Natural DNA behavior. This led to the design of the DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process; a system capable of assessing 8 major personality factors as well as 24 related sub-factors. The fact we can reliably measure 32 behaviors from 138 words across 46 questions is remarkable given that other systems need 15 to 25 questions to measure 1 behavior with less accuracy.

So, what is the Forced Choice Assessment- The traditional Forced Choice Assessment format is a descriptor used in psychometrics to signify a specific type of measure in which respondents compare two or more desirable options and pick the one that is most preferred. This is contrasted with measures that use Normative/Likert-type scales, in which respondents choose the score (e.g. 1 to 5) which best represents the degree to which they agree with a statement. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipsative

A correctly structured Forced Choice format using singular words (versus sentences and statements) presents the individual with item options that are equal in desirability with situational, cultural and educational biases removed; this ensures response choices they make will be far less likely to be influenced by social desirability, circumstances, experiences education or environment. Therefore, the outcomes will reveal inherent behaviors, hardwired core traits and strengths and struggles of the person being assessed which are universally applicable.

We are aggressively authentic in defending our method, the outcomes and the process. Were not embarrassed about this. Our approach is intentional.

Tight questions, using the Forced Choice methodology, get great life results and outcomes which are very strong. This enables individuals to understand their unique inherent behavior and from that position make strong life and business decisions.

The Forced Choice format forces the participant to instinctively choose their answer, and respond more truthfully, as there is not one obviously desirable quality to pick from. Also, the Forced Choice format reduces the potential for the participant to agree or disagree. A Forced Choice format using triads of items (a block of 3) enables greater insight into the interactions between the items for enabling more specific measurement of the behavioral factors (traits).

Further – the results place behavioral knowledge firmly in the hands of the individual. From this position -

  • They are better able to understand who they are in terms of strengths and struggles.
  • They have substance upon which to base life, financial and business decisions.
  • It tells people how to manage their communication style.
  • It reveals talents both overt and hidden that can be applied to career choices.

One of the important outcomes of this discovery approach is to understand that strengths, (upon which most people focus) can, under certain circumstances, become struggles and are difficult to manage without self-awareness and knowledge.

Why not spend 10 to 12 minutes learning about your own unique natural DNA style. Take the Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery process or the Financial DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process. Use the link below to take you to the questionnaire.

This scientifically based and validated discovery will reveal significant aspects of your natural behavioral style that is the core of your personality. It will help you as make healthy life, business and financial decisions.

Contact us if you would like to discuss this. Our highly skilled consultants will provide you with feedback on the discovery, and help you to take the next step in building a behaviorally smart life. To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

artificial-intelligence-3382507_960_720

Markets Are Not Predictable, But Human Behavior Is

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

Understanding how to uniquely manage each client during periods of market volatility is a major issue for advisory firms. So, when you have the capability to predict each client’s reactions in advance of market movements, communication is straightforward, understanding that markets are not predictable, but human behavior is. After all, mismanaged emotions destroy wealth.

In a down market, some cautious clients will panic about losses. On the other side, more extreme risk-takers will see it as an opportunity to buy. Prioritizing the management of clients based on market fear (or lack thereof) and providing corresponding key insights will develop more effective client relationships and retention.

Research demonstrates that markets cannot be predicted by advisors and investors. Instead, advisors should manage the behavioral biases of their clients. In fact, advisors are in an optimal position to do so.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Clients need to be part of the discovery process from the outset. This can only be achieved using highly targeted questions via an online discovery process, or verbally. Afterward, advisors can deliver advice based on the client’s goals, rather than the advisor’s perception or interpretation of client needs.

This leaves the advisor better able to align solutions and offerings to who the client is and what they are trying to achieve. It takes the advisors biases out of the conversation. Whether they are the personality biases or personal financial biases, the advice now becomes all about the client. Discovery upfront, as outlined here, delivers both a filtering and alignment that provides greater objectivity on the part of the client and advisor.

Emotional insight

Understanding and managing clients during market volatility is all about their emotional balance. If they are to achieve their goals, its important for the advisor to know how to stop them making silly decisions on their journey via emotion-based decisions or reactions to market movements.

This is where behavioral coaching and educating becomes such a big part of what advisors should be offering clients. Not every advisor, though, is going to have the skills necessary to coach clients in this way.

The use of a highly-validated discovery process that identifies and measures both inherent and learned behaviors will make advisors aware of clients who will react emotionally to triggers like disturbing media headlines or presidential tweets. Advisors with concrete insight can then best manage the client and their reactions for the best outcomes.

Having this insight on clients financial personalities delivers a more sophisticated set of tools into the hands of advisors.

Understanding the wiring and the whys

We humans have certain decision-making biases that are hard-wired early in life. These behavioral biases can be predicted, as they are inherently part of our DNA. The biases usually reveal themselves in times of higher market volatility, when a person is under more pressure or when a major life event takes place.

The key for investors is not to churn their accounts too much in times of volatility. For some advisors and investors whose DNA is wired to be fast-paced, overtrading will be a greater temptation.

As an investor, it’s important to know how much your account is actively managed. Active management can equate to overtrading and, in the end, could be costly or even destructive if not properly moderated.

The other bias to recognize is that investors have a much greater aversion to losses than gains. Those investors whose DNA is wired to be patient and risk-averse will feel the pain of losses much more; so, managing their emotions in times of volatility is crucial. These clients will need a portfolio that is very different from those that are higher risk-takers.

Advisors need to learn how to advise and communicate with each client uniquely in terms of their reaction to market volatility. Again, this is why advisors should consider using sophisticated, targeted questioning to gain insights into client behavior. Having predictive behavioral insight at the start of the client/advisor relationship is significant.

A customer-centric approach in all service industries is essential. But with the scrutiny and attention placed on the financial services sector, such customer focus becomes crucial to the reputation of the business, to client retention and to the overall success of the business. Further, it is a regulatory requirement.

Advice must now be tailored to the individual. One size does not fit all. Advisors who don’t get on board in terms of understanding the behaviors of their clients risk compromising their business and leaving themselves wide open to litigation.

Advisors no longer just need to know how they need to know why. Do you #KnowTheWhy of your client’s life and wealth creation goals?

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior.