Behavioral Finance

Looking Back, Looking Ahead Measuring and Managing Behavioral Differences Across Any Challenge

As COVID becomes more lesson learned and less daily challenge, we’re moving on stronger to help our clients make better high-stakes decisions using behavioral and money insights. If nothing else, the pressure caused by COVID underscores the critical importance of understanding and managing individual differences to enable the customization of experiences in every interaction and in decision-making.

For instance, if you can quantify and understand how employees and clients engage differently based on their innate programming, you can better manage a pivot, as when we all had to shift to remote working. Likewise, if you were lucky enough to already have individual behavior and money insights for decision-making in hand pre-pandemic, you could have been ahead of the pack, enabling more humanity to be baked into online interactions when in-person interactions were no longer an option.

In that way, the pandemic exemplifies our work as a behavior and money insights company providing applications (in both the operational and technical senses) well beyond financial planning. I note beyond the financial services industry because that’s where we started and are perhaps best known.

Expanding our behavioral chip deployments – the DNA API



Still, the power of measuring and managing behavioral differences, especially when such is easily configured for existing platforms and systems via an API or otherwise, need not stop at functional or industry borders. Customization via quantifiable, replicable, and validated behavioral insights are already powering human resource functions, entrepreneurship, insurance, planned giving, cybersecurity, marketing, interior design, and more.

As we see further decentralization and automation in the push to the digitalization of services, the power of behavior and money insights will only become more critical in the quest to enable the hyper-personalization of experiences. 2022 will see us deploying the DNA Behavior API as the “behavioral chip” within a number of other financial services corporations in the USA and globally, among others. Although, our goal will be to ensure the platforms that we deploy in do empower improved human interactions and not serve as a substitute for them.

Behavioral diversity – DEI re-focusing


Further, in 2022 we will expand the work we have done in helping enterprises and governmental organizations re-configure and grow their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs to include core segments for managing behavioral differences. While many DEI programs are well-intentioned and on the face of it “tick the box,” they have so far done little to improve workplace culture and how stakeholders (boards, executives, teams, clients, suppliers, and communities) engage with each other from a communication and talent management perspective.

Behavioral variability and digital benchmarking

In 2022, DNA Behavior will be doing more to help you make the right decisions about people, transactions, and events.

We will be partnering to launch an exciting bit of AI which solves the problem of the high variability in subjective judgment call decisions in which a similar outcome would be expected. Extensive research has shown there is a high level of “noise” in decision-making, or what we call behavioral variability, caused by unchecked intuition. Importantly, the organizational cost of this behavioral variability which is prevalent somewhere in most businesses can be measured. For instance, in determining client risk profiles and asset allocation, sales forecasting, valuations, hiring, budgeting, cost estimations, quoting fees for services, quality control, and the like.

The AI is known as “GENE” which is a digital twin that will help decision-makers use objective insights or benchmarks in the making of judgment decisions.

Here’s what that looks like: 10 different financial advisors, faced with the same inputs about the same client, could make 10 different assessments of risk and asset allocation. Further, they can make different assessments about whether the client is an ideal fit and how they should be interacted with. But aren’t there always those, say, 5 to10 best performers, who analyze the data and get their decisions right –or at least closer to right –than anyone else? More of the time? Well, this digital benchmarking builds a digital twin so those best-case assessments can be emulated, or at least referenced, every time a decision is made.

These digital clones don’t replace advisors or professionals in other areas; rather, they serve as a check/balance, helping them hone their expertise–another tool enabling you’re A-Team to harness behavioral diversity and behavioral variability to nail great decisions and outcomes at an even higher rate.

In addition, we are building a GENE FAQ to help you more quickly get answers at your fingertips to specific questions that are not immediately obvious from reading a report.

Upgrades + a book

The New Year also brings upgrades of our own, as we recognize the need for an expanded range of insights (500+!) to be available at your fingertips with ready-to-go analysis, greater flexibility, and the dashboard functionality increasingly used – especially by larger organizations–while continuing to meet the technical complexities of our clients and partners who also will realize even greater cyber security benefits.

In 2022 comes another re-launch, this time of Financial DNA: Discovering Your Unique Financial Personality for a Quality Life, Hugh Massie’s book originally published by Wiley in 2006. Updates to the book reflect advances and refinements of DNA Behavior systems.

Boys Without Fathers charity

I would posit that all of my work is a passion project, but a philanthropic passion project becomes real in 2022 with the launch of Boys Without Fathers, a charity that will empower boys (and their families) from homes in which a father was not present from a very young age via literacy, character development, mentoring to make decisions and entrepreneurship.

I discovered in hosting Identity Conversations with our clients this year that there was a high prevalence of us (including me) growing up in a home where the father was not there from a very early age for whatever reason. The loss and trauma have been shown through research to cause literacy and character development issues, along with the difficulty of finding their identity and place in the world. The issues are similar regardless of race, culture, or opportunity. So, starting the Boys Without Fathers fulfills another dream for me of empowering youth globally to live a life of meaning which I have been fortunate to do.

The DNA systems will be deployed as we partner with remarkable people like Dr. Greg Spencer and incredible organizations like his footsteps 2 brilliance and Terry Hawkins and Jeff Morris from DreamSmart Academy, and others. Robust collaborations will drive mentoring and training and coaching programs. To learn more, contact us at inquiries@dnabehavior.com and let me know if you want to collaborate or help the Boys Without Fathers charity in some way when it is up and running around March 2022.

Identity conversations

To help you go to the next stage in telling the world about the great work you are doing or to become liberated in discovering your meaning and how you aspire the world to see you, let’s hook you up with an Identity Conversation. In a one-hour conversation, the value of everything you have done in your life that has got you today will be unpacked and a platform for accelerating dramatic growth will be set.

Leading with behavior & money insights roundtable discussions

In whatever way you interact with us (round table, identity interview, or some new, inventive collab?) we’ll be leveraging the measurement and management of human differences toward better decisions, better outcomes. After all, 20 years of research and almost half as many years in the practical application of behavior and money insights demonstrate solid, growing demand for leaders who know and understand the impact of behavior and money, particularly the behavior around money decisions.

We’re focused on behavior variability: Again, why do different individuals make different decisions about the same things? From leaders making sales forecasts to financial advisors assessing risk in portfolio allocation to teams making key hires and budgeting costs, families making decisions, and buying businesses. Imagine the impacts!

If you want to be included in one of our round tables, please email us at: inquiries@dnabehavior.com

Intuition + data

I’ll leave you with this stark stat: Intuition has proven to be 28 percent accurate. Less than a third. Now, I’m not asking you to throw your valuable and well-earned “gut” feeling out. But I am advocating the delay of the use of that alone with time for cognitive reflection. Bring an objective assessment to your decisions with better data analysis, more structured decision-making using the Gene Decision Method, and consultation with the Gene AI Digital Twin. To your leadership. To your investments. To your new-year forecasting and planning…

While you ponder that, please accept my wishes for a terrific holiday season and a bright new year in which we might partner toward making your best high-stakes decisions ever.

A Veteran’s Day Tribute with Brian Sulc

For the past few years, we at DNA Behavior have always acknowledged and celebrated our community of veterans on National Veterans Day. We take it to heart to honor those who wear and have worn the uniform of our armed forces.  

I have served in the Air Force for a few years and can honestly say that the camaraderie you experience in the armed forces is unlike any other bond. The experience is life-changing and teaches you a great deal about the human condition and our natural behavior. 

I’m always moved and encouraged to meet fellow veterans. Throughout the years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few and today I would like to pay tribute to one of them.  

Meet Brian Sulc 

Brian Sulc is the Executive Director of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) at the Department of Homeland Security. He’s been leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative since 2019 and has been part of I&A since 2004.  At a very young age, Brian knew that he wanted to make a difference in the world. He’s always been moved and motivated by the stark distinction between good and evil. In his own words, he simply wanted to be one of the good guys.  

After graduating high school, he joined Cornell University and was part of the Navy ROTC program, Marine Option. Straight out of college, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps and became an infantry platoon commander. He spent the next 5 years in the infantry battalion serving various roles, it was not only the beginning of his career but also was his first experience in training.  

Brian then moved on to take the role of Deputy Director of the Instructional Management School at Camp Pendleton, California and made a major career change right after that. He decided to become an attorney and went from the Marine Corps to law school. 

The interesting thing about his decision is that he didn’t necessarily have any kind of lifelong ambition about becoming an attorney, he was seeking an intellectually challenging academic experience, a “boot camp of the mind.”  He found himself enjoying his time at law school and became a prosecutor, spending eight quite fulfilling years in the role. 

A life-changing event 

Brian can still remember it as if it had happened yesterday. It was a Tuesday morning; he was sitting at a desk on the 11th floor eying a stack of files he needed to go through for preliminary hearings. He’d been working as a prosecutor in Arlington County in Virginia, and this was a normal day for him. Suddenly, he saw all the police officers running out of the courtroom headed in the same direction. He looked around for an explanation, then his eyes met the window where the black fume of smoke was all you could see on the horizon. 

The day was 9/11, and the building was the Pentagon right after it was bombed.  

Even as a prosecutor, Brian had been continuing his military service in the reserves. Witnessing what happened that day, triggered the next season of his life. He returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, joined the post 9/11 efforts spending the most of the four years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq where his actions resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in combat.

Brian returned home, but not to re-engage as a prosecutor. 9/11 had changed him and sharpened his resolve to make the world a better place. He joined the Department of Homeland Security was where he believed he could make a difference and a contribution post military service. 

The servant leadership approach 

A lot of things happened in Brian’s career since he came back from deployment. Prior to leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative, he worked as Director of the Border Security Division, which countered with cross border threats such as drug trafficking, smuggling, and similar issues. He then led the effort to establish the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  

His comeback to training came in the form of the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative. He had been in intel operations most of his career, but the counterterrorism center of excellence and this position marked his return.  

The interesting thing about Brian is that he has his own philosophy when it comes to training and leadership. Although he values the technical aspect of any mission, it’s always been more about the people for him, and the opportunity for inspiring and leading others to succeed.  

In his own words, Brian embraces the servant leadership approach. It’s what drives him. He believes that by having a clear mission, a distinctive threat or enemy to fight and providing support to everyone on your team, you can unlock a level of success that you may not have encountered before. It is not about you the leader, it is about your team, what they need from you to succeed, and your commitment to providing that for them. It is not only about individual performance; it is about helping people operate for the greater good of the team.  

The identity of a veteran 

Any person that has worn the uniform of our armed forces admits that it is more than a job. It is more than a mission or a vocation. The selfless act of dedicating every waking moment to the well-being of your nation is undoubtedly part of your identity.  

Whether you transition to a different career or you carry on the mission and work on the federal level similar to the path chosen by Brian, your identity as a veteran will always surface in all aspects of your life.  

When asking Brian what he wants to be known for and how he wants to be seen by the people he leads and spends time training, he says: ”I hope that I am seen as a great example or even the epitome of a servant leader. When the going gets tough, even when it may costs me personally, I’m practicing what I preach. We look out for the guy or the woman on our left and right. The mission is best accomplished by being a servant leader and by not putting yourself first.” 

Final thought. 

Have you ever met someone in your life and thought to yourself “that person is a real-life hero!”. When it comes to Brian Sulc, that is exactly how I felt when I first met him. People like him make me think that every day should be a celebration of our veterans, not only one day a year. 

From all of us here at DNA Behavioral, Brian, we salute you and thank you for your service. 

How to Get Started With Financial DNA in 5 Steps

Financial DNA is a comprehensive and customizable tool. It will guide you to work alongside your clients as they tune into their financial personality and money habits. 

By using the very same tool top advisors around the world are using, you will be able to enhance your investor experience. We have created this guide to seamlessly assist you in getting started with Financial DNA.

Step 1: Set up your admin system

If you purchased Financial DNA through an enterprise, your account may have come pre-configured with some basic settings to get started. If so, you can skip this step. Otherwise, if you did purchase it on your own, you can easily upload your logo and apply a few basic settings to get started. 

If you sign up for a Financial DNA package, there are several different customization options available. You can customize the web-screens and reports with your logo after signing in. If you were not directed to do this, please contact our support team so they may assist you in customizing your profile. 

Step 2: Customize your messaging

The best way to learn something is to try it for yourself, and Financial DNA is no different. By testing it out yourself, you will go through the steps as an investor would so you will always be talking from first-hand experience.

Once you have completed your own Financial DNA, it’s time to start inviting others. We do have a variety of free templates that you are free to use to assist you in creating compelling email invitations that others will want to join. 

Step 3: Recruit your 5 first users

You’ll soon see how Financial DNA can be used to help your clients. Invite five friends or family members to use Financial DNA to complete their own discoveries and you will quickly understand how ‘real-life’ actions translate into our DNA reports. 

Financial DNA is here to assist you in being comfortable and familiar with our product fast.

In the previous step, we provided sample invitations for you to use to invite family members and friends. Once they have completed their DNA,  you will be able to practice your client conversations with them using these results so that you can become familiar with Behaviorally SMART conversations.

Step 4: Review & connect

Step 5: Schedule your coaching session

Another useful advantage to you is that our team will invite you for a free one-on-one coaching session with our coach, which is included with each Financial DNA package.  

In this interactive call we’ll answer any questions you have about what is included in your package and provide an opportunity for some hands-on practice, debriefing clients using our Behavioral Smart Meeting approach, so you are well prepared to be able to confidently converse with your own potential clients.

Conclusion

Financial DNA is the future of advisor/investor relationships. Top investors in the world are using it, and so should you. 

The best way to discover and learn about Financial DNA is to try it out yourself with a free trial

We’re all about giving people an easy way into getting started on this financial journey, which means that we offer you this 5 step guide to getting started right now, where users can get acquainted with our platform before they commit to anything long term. 

We are sure you can see the benefits of using Financial DNA and should this now be something you want to explore further, please go ahead and access our free trial and get started working towards your advisor/ investor goals. 

5 Things to Know About Behavioral Finance

To be able to fully understand an investor’s decision-making process, financial advisors need to equip themselves with the knowledge, skills, and understanding of Behavioral Finance.

When taken right back to the bare bones of it all, a human being’s most basic natural instincts are based on emotions and psychological reactions triggered by a variety of events. When it comes to making investment decisions, these natural reactions are brought into this as well.

A second way that humans make decisions is through conscious thinking. Now, these behaviors are slightly different from survival behaviors because they are learned as a result of experience, and so people are able to adapt to changes in their environment. 

These natural instincts as well as the learned behaviors, all carry across into the financial decision-making actions that people act upon.

 1. What is Behavioral Finance?  

Behavior Finance is essentially understanding the underlying psychology of financial decision-making. It combines cognitive psychology with economics and finance. 

The objectives of Behavioral Finance are to understand why individuals make certain investment decisions.

For example:

  • Emotions are responsible for our quick assessments that influence financial decision-making. Positive emotions lead to more risk-taking, optimism, and in addition, buying decisions are made faster. Investors are well aware of the roller coaster of emotions they go through including hope, excitement, euphoria, fear, despair, regret, and sadness.
  • Another example is Herd Mentality. Herd Mentality is when a person feels pressured into making a decision just to conform with the largest crowd and their rationale behind it is that ‘so many people are doing it, it must be right.’ The dotcom bubble is a perfect example of this. Between 1995 and 2000, investors were backing internet-based startups hoping that they would soon make a profit. 

2. We all have biases

We all have Behavioral Biases which are irrational beliefs or behaviors that can unconsciously influence our decision-making, and stray us from rational decision-making.

However, our biases lead us to make less than optimal decisions.

The Behavioral Biases embedded in humans are responsible for irrational decisions that result in poor financial or insurance investment. We need to be made aware of our personal biases and try not to let them influence our financial decision-making. 

As Hugh Massie, our CEO and Behavioral Strategist explains, we focus on 16 Behavioral Biases that affect people’s financial decision-making. Once you can identify and understand your top two or three biases, you can become a better decision-maker, especially when under pressure.

3. Spending patterns are written all over us

Behavioral Finance is the answer for advisors who want to learn more about investors and how they intend to spend their money.

It has typically been a problem that advisors haven’t had enough information and insight into their clients’ spending patterns and as such, could only create financial plans without truly understanding what people planned on investing in or saving up long-term.

4. You can’t spell “behavior” without “risk” in it

By now, as an advisor, you should be able to understand that a person’s behavior is intrinsically coupled with the amount of risk they are willing to take. To be able to help your investors experience long-term financial success, determining their risk factor will play a major role in determining their strategy.

When you choose to work with us, you will benefit from our Financial DNA reports that provide a step-by-step approach to determining the risk behavior of clients, couples, and advisors.

You see, every single person has a Risk Behavior number ranging from 0 to 100, and it’s based on their Risk Tolerance and Risk Propensity. A higher score means they are more likely to take risks. The score is normally distributed with an average of 50 and a standard deviation of 10.

5. Financial DNA takes the guesswork out of investing

When you work with us, we help you build a system to understand your clients, where you will be able to connect with them, and customize their experiences.

By understanding your client you will be able to communicate with them in a more relatable manner; you will to know and understand their risk behaviors and spending patterns and it will be easier to understand and determine their financial goals. 

Our Financial DNA API sets us apart because it measures 500+ behavioral insights and will be a way to add a human element to your data. This is done with details on how people communicate, invest, work and live their life.

In Conclusion

At Financial DNA, we have years of experience to help you better understand your clients. If you are interested in our Financial DNA investor experience, basic Financial DNA reports, and 1:1 onboard coaching, start a free trial today.

What Behavioral Style Are You?

You are a team leader, a coach, or a financial advisor, you are quite familiar with the human relationships aspect of your work. Imagine if there was a special pair of ‘insight’ glasses that you could wear while reading through resumes or talking with potential prospects. These special glasses would allow you to know how people like to be managed, communicated with and counselled. 

What if people had their behavioral style written all over them?

Well, they have. Our DNA Behavior technology is able to pinpoint every human habit and group individuals into behavioral styles unique to certain groups with the same traits. 

Would you be interested to know what yours is?

Meet Our 10 Unique Styles

By recognizing and grouping together a variety of human traits, we have identified 10 unique behavioral styles. You will actually find that you might identify with at least one of them.

If you are looking for a detailed report of your unique style, your team, or your investors, you can sign up for our free trial today.

For now, we will be sharing with you the four main characteristics of these 10 unique styles. 

Fast-Paced

In our unique styles, three types of individuals are considered fast-paced; the Influencers, the Engagers, and the Initiators.


The difference is the Influencer is very comfortable with, or even enjoys, being the life of the party. By nature, they are fun, full of energy, always with a captivating story to tell and a smile on their face.


The Engager is an outgoing character, who tends to surround themselves  with family and friends, and is comfortable spending time with people at family gatherings, places of interest, and even work functions. The Engager has a natural enthusiasm for starting new projects and is quick to get going with tasks such as planning a family holiday, arranging a fishing competition amongst friends, or arranging a fundraiser for a project close to their heart.

The third style in this fast-paced group is the Initiator. The difference between this style and the previous two is that this person likes to have the facts and is comfortable making quick decisions. For example, when they are about to make an important purchase, they will gather all of the facts and figures together, consider the pros and the cons, and assess their choices in a rational manner.


Moves Carefully

This group of people is more cautious in their decisions and the way they live their lives.

The Adapter is that one team member you will find yourself going to when you need assistance – they have their own strengths and capabilities but as they enjoy working in a team, will easily adapt according to what the team requires to reach their goals

The Stylish Thinker likes to spend money on trends but they will also create and work within a budget to build their dream lifestyle. Stylish Thinkers enjoy interacting with others and getting the most out of any situation. When it comes to making life decisions or working with others, they tend to always create a relaxed environment. They like to collaborate and provide input, however, they have a need of avoiding conflict.

The Facilitator on the other hand excels in competitive situations. They work well where there is group-decision making and encourage other players to achieve the goals set. They also appreciate being acknowledged for their input into the team’s success.

Results-Oriented

Here we have two types of results-oriented behaviors. 

The Strategist wants to be in control of their path. They need to have all of the facts before making a strategic decision, and everything must be planned and well organized.

The second in this group is the Reflective Thinker and they are more involved in the ‘why’ of doing something, rather than the ‘what’. If they are given directions to a destination that is not the usual route they travel, they will need evidence as to why this route is better and will need time to think about it before acting on it. 

Relationship-Oriented

The Community Builder and the Relationship Builder are the most relationship-oriented individuals you’ll ever meet.

Community Builders are, by nature, encouraged to help others see the final goal they are working towards and can effortlessly drive others simply by being themselves. 

The Relationship Builder, on the other hand, enjoys carrying out tasks if these tasks are going to help someone else. A life coach or even a business coach who is motivating and encouraging someone else to achieve their goals fits perfectly into this category. 

Final Thoughts..

Simply being aware of our own character traits and knowing ourselves on a much deeper level is such a powerful asset. Which of the four categories can you relate to?

How the Pandemic Affected Our Spending Habits – Sharing Our Most Unusual Purchases

Who in the 21st century would have believed they would be part of a worldwide pandemic, forced into isolation with limited access to life as they knew it? Within 24 hours, lives changed, natural behaviors were exposed, and so were spending patterns.

While people were confined to their homes, it became undeniable that the pandemic affected their spending habits. Some started making more online purchases than they had ever previously done, others were spending online just to occupy their time.

In times of crisis, it is human nature for us to revert back to our instinctual responses. As things start to go back to normal we all remember the unusual purchase we all made.

Three members of our DNA Behavior team share with you some of their most unusual purchases.

The Perfect Gaming Setup

If you haven’t met him yet, Ryan Scott is our innovative CTO, always searching for and identifying ways to connect with others using his unique people-before-numbers approach. Being a Reflective Thinker, Ryan succeeds by spending many hours objectively observing situations and uses his skill set to enhance unpredictable and complex situations. 

However, during Covid when people became housebound and freedom of movement was temporarily removed, Ryan started feeling isolated and needed to find an outlet. He had been a passionate playstation user for a while, and saw this as an opportunity to connect with friends, even so virtually. So he invested in several accessories that would enhance his gaming experience and play virtually with friends.

To compensate for many hours of competitive racing through the streets of Monaco, or parachuting into battlegrounds in war-torn areas – through his playstation of course – he also purchased an e-bike to spend more time outdoors.

From Self-Development to Gardening

Credit: The Farmstand

Lisa Travis is our Business Development Analysts and also happens to be an influencer. Throughout the pandemic, she found her online spending shifting towards a combination of online courses and membership sites. Six months passed and Lisa realized that spending $97 a month on products she didn’t need or use, was pointless.

By searching for something else to do, Lisa stumbled across a relatively easy and rewarding hobby. She was introduced to hydroponic gardening. She made the necessary online purchases and her garden started to grow ever since.

Creating the Perfect Home Garden

As you can see, gardening was a common theme within our DNA Behavior team.


Carol Pocklington, our Chief Insight Leader, had been working remotely for quite a while before the pandemic hit. It wasn’t that big of an adjustment for her. However, the window view from her home office was to her house’s backyard and she had been thinking about embellishing her garden for so long.
So she took that as an opportunity to create the perfect home garden, and view for her office. She ordered plants, shrubs, bulbs, and everything she needed to create a flourishing oasis of green.

What about you? What were your most unusual purchases during the pandemic?