Financial Personality

Recognize, Break Away From Herd Mentality

– First Published on Nasdaq –

one of the challenges financial advisors face is the tendency for their clients to come to them already influenced by “group” think or herd mentality.

“Everybody is buying XYZ; I need to get in on this!”.

“No one is staying in International Doodads. The guys on my Pickle Ball team say I should get out of that and lean into derivatives.”

Clients know the importance of seeking advice from qualified financial industry professionals yet can make life-changing decisions based on a night out with friends or the sensational advice of a grandiloquent radio host.

And, yes, sometimes otherwise smart investors are persuaded by the comfort of a crowd. After all, the advice may come via a relationship through whom they get trusted advice on many other areas of their lives. Or from someone seen as successful…so the advice must be worth following, right?

Coming out of a divisive election year, herd mentality is at the forefront, beyond just the financial sector. So, we have it in perspective; it just should not be part of your investment strategy.

Core insights, core advice

Clear thinking requires financial professionals to be able to understand where enthusiasm for an investment or disinvestment is coming from and how to respond to a client’s bias. An advisor must help that client pivot their thinking in a positive and safer way, visualizing the situation from a different perspective. This, in fact, is a core reason for having a financial advisor or coach.

So how can a financial professional do this? Do they know bias can be revealed?

Financial advisors who are serious about understanding the client behavior invest in a behavioral component for their existing tech stack. The benefit: Revealing a depth and breadth of insight into their clients.

Behavioral insights also alert advisors to those clients who react in the moment and revert to long-held beliefs that often hurt their returns. This could be panicking and selling or excitedly panicking and doubling down on exactly the wrong investment.

Mining for insights

We all know the importance for advisors and clients to separate emotions from investing. But, again, how to actually do that? The trick is learning enough about inherent biases to be able to manage them.

Without that information folded into their workflow, advisors may find themselves locked in emotional exchanges with their clients. Or at least unable to move a client off a damaging commitment to the wrong vision or ill-informed advice.

Behaviorally smart advisors understand that everyone reacts differently to turbulent markets. Having behavior tech insights into a client, they can coach and educate their clients – and do so in ways tailored to each client – to move beyond herd mentality.

Using a behaviorally smart financial discovery, an advisor will know of client biases from the get-go. They will know which clients are likely to field bad advice and take it to heart. Best, they’ll be well-prepared to keep clients from jumping on the latest bandwagon.

The client also would be the beneficiary of these insights, so they can “check themselves before they wreck themselves,” as my mentor, Hugh Massie, likes to say. So, don’t think of behavioral insights as something the advisor holds close; there are insights about the advisor and about the client and all should be shared with each.

Breaking away from the pack

Herd mentality is a dangerous bias. And there is a clear responsibility for financial advisors to ensure they provide clients with highly individualized guidance.

If they are indeed armed with behavioral insights – on themselves and, especially, on their clients – they can even provide proactive guidance when client information might not be congruent with other, external perspectives. 

When an individual and their advisor are equipped with quantifiable insights, they can recognize and break free from the herd. After all, investing is not a group sport.

Taking the Mystery Out of Investor Behavior

As we all know wealth mentoring entails helping your clients achieve greater financial goals. You provide them with guidance and assistance that unlocks their full potential, manages their emotions, and allows them to live with meaning. Which raises 2 questions: what is your role in advising clients? Is it to help them manage their behavior or to get the highest maximum performance?

I have always said that financial planning risks are the sum of human behavioral risks (client and advisor) and market risks. Our whole Financial DNA program for investors and advisors has been predicated on this. Whilst the market itself cannot be managed by a client their reaction to it can be which comes back to human behavior management. There is university research which shows that 5% of a person’s wealth comes from their investments and 95% from their behavior.

I do believe 75% or more of our role is to save clients from themselves by helping manage their behavior. This involves educating, guiding, coaching and empowering them. What we call “Wealth Mentoring”. By adopting this approach you will be helping your clients obtain superior returns which far out weigh any level of fees that you can charge. The reality is that the key to successful investment is managing behavior.

Wealth Mentoring Transforms the Client Experience and Enhances Value

For the Wealth Mentoring approach to be successful the advisor must transform the client experience they provide. The client needs to experience the feeling that their life is more than money, their money has been humanized, a sense of improved relationships, discovery of life purpose and meaning, and finally a tailored portfolio built from the inside out. Then there must be an ongoing development experience involving wise counsel with the client knowing they have an improved quality life. Understanding their behavioral style and preferences is fundamental to all of this. Behavior shapes life decisions which in turn influence financial decisions. The linkage is very close.

Importantly, the value proposition to the client needs to be communicated. There are many tangible and intangible benefits of this approach. Research shows average mutual fund investors will over a 20 year period do themselves out of nearly 60% of the return produced by the average equity mutual fund. This means the average investor will significantly underperform the market and his own investments. So, if the average mutual fund return over the last 20 years is 10.81% and the average equity fund investor has averaged 4.48% then there is a 6.33% difference which represents the cost of not having a good planner. Hence a financial planner charging fees of 1% per annum and/or a retainer is very good value.

What is great is that now we have turbulent times lots of other leading commentators are coming out of the woodwork and giving this message loud and clear. We are at the start of a cultural revolution in the role of advisors in financial planning and the investors attitude to it. A revolution that is client centered and one from which everyone who plays the right game of managing behavior will be big winners. The philosophy of Understanding People before Numbers is here to stay.

The Advisors Value Proposition of a Wealth Mentoring Approach

We have recently performed a research of 100 advisors with AUM over $50m. The conclusion is that far more client discovery could be performed and there is plenty of scope to introduce more fee based services which address the life of the client.

In my view what is ever good for the client will generally be good for the advisor in the long run. Lets look at why a behavioral “wealth mentoring” approach is good for the advisor’s bottom line let alone the credibility of their financial planning process and business.

The ROI for an advisor of adopting a systemized behavioral approach is driven by the ability to aid advisors in:

1. increasing client acquisition rates
2. increasing wallet-share among existing clients
3. providing the justification for higher advice fees
4. increasing client retention rates
5. improving advisor productivity
6. increasing the business value.

Advisors who integrate a behavioral system into their practices find that they achieve these ROI goals by:

1. Establishing trust more rapidly with prospective clients through anticipating their communication, investment, and lifestyle needs

2. Gathering more assets from existing clients by positioning themselves as the client’s trusted advisor. Wealth mentoring facilitates client interactions that go well beyond investments and provides the basis for a deeper relationship with each client.

3. Supporting higher planning and advice fees through the offer of a powerful discovery process. Financial advisors may also use client centered systems to add new revenue generating services such as couple or family facilitation, executive life balance programs etc.

4. Improving relationships with problem clients. Advisors often struggle with a segment of their clients because their natural behaviors differ greatly with those of the advisor. While advisors may keep these relationships in good times, rocky markets require more careful facilitation to help clients feel understood.

5. Advisor productivity increases because once you know the behavior of the client it is easier and quicker to identify their needs, manage them and keep them committed to a plan. Alot of time can get burned for an advisor dealing with client changes and problems after year 1 which could have been addressed up-front.

6. Greater documentation of who the client is enables relationships to be transferred to other people within the practice and also when it is sold. This has a very positive impact on business value.

In terms of metrics, here is what we base the wealth mentoring value proposition on:

1. We have seen trends that advisors who adopt a client centred methodology are increasing their gross asset under management revenues by 25% or more per annum from new clients. Further, we are seeing them increase their fee for service revenues by 15% or more per annum. Also, there is enhanced client retention. Of course success from using any system is also up to the effort of the advisor.

We believe it is possible in respect of an average practice to help the principal advisor double their net take home profit over a 4 year period. This is achieved from segmenting the client base so it is fundamentally more productive and building the AUM and fee for service revenues from the top 100 or so clients. This is a substantial return on investment from our costs and the coaching cost.

2. From point 1, there is the ongoing business benefit that the increased revenues and profits translate to increased business value on sale. What we have also seen is that the behavioral data enables greater transferability of clients which is fundamental to the business value as revenue and profit sustainability post the sale are fundamental to the value.

Tech solutions

Innovative Tech Solutions For Talent And Culture Are On The Menu

We recently brought together leaders, influencers and tech wizards from human resources and related fields for DNA Behaviors Thought Accelerators: Future HRtech interactive dinner. Think Mastermind meets think-tank meets great meal at which participants discuss, debate and parse leveraging behavioral insights at scale across a broad range of applications.

Participants who are more familiar with our work helped underscore that the HRtech future is now, available to anyone in and around HR and tech who wants to drive innovation and behavioral solutions in everything from sales and marketing, to operations, recruitment, fit-for-hire and more. Imagine being able to deploy behavioral personality insights to guide people, teams and businesses using real talent insights for real results in real-time.

Participants who are less familiar with our 18 years of work perfecting a validated, practical and scalable psychometric system asked pointed questions, made astute observations and ultimately sparked, yes, more great ways to leverage the intersection of tech, data and behavioral insights within and beyond HR.

DNA solutions in action

Reinforcements of our methodology and beliefs revealed during the dinner include the way we recruit (using a behavior tech platform); that is, starting with a proper design of the role based on specific behavioral talents and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators), doing no interviews until the candidates behavioral talents are matched to role.

Then look to resumes, which are best viewed from a futuristic perspective – focusing on predictors of future performance rather than a recitation of past accomplishments – though most diners agreed it’s tough to glean such knowledge from most resumes. The problem with the traditional methodology is that many suitable candidates are screened out based on resumes which address the past and a failure to recognize their talents at all.

But that futuristic look is increasingly crucial, particularly given that tech is changing every type of role so fast. Candidates and employers alike must prepare for roles and even industries that did not exist before. Still, by identifying natural (innate) behavioral talents through a validated discovery process, the one thing you can and should rely on is the foundation of the process.

It was noted that, ideally, job descriptions are written with behavioral characteristics in mind. This means looking beyond skills and experience to the ideal behavioral talents (strengths) your optimal candidate will have. Ideally, the business should be benchmarking each key role based on previous high performers who have succeeded in that culture and environment, or at least looking to comparable roles in other similar businesses.

In one sense the work of defining the job description role requires the data produced by the DNA Behavior Tech Platform and then also some experienced consulting input from a person who understands the exact requirements of the business who is recruiting. We encourage the many stalwart business partners we have who take our behavior tech platform (including an API) to use it for powering the building of specific role benchmarks, managing the hiring and onboarding process and then developing teams and monitoring performance.

One of the reasons these collaborations are so powerful is that they can more quickly – even exponentially – help us help businesses of all kinds accelerate human performance. To wit, businesses that build a more relationship-oriented culture with an eye on results do better than those that are focused solely on bottom-line results. (You simply cannot take people out of the equation.)

Behavioral insights power culture

There was much talk of the importance of the right organizational culture, with one participant emphasizing that culture is so important that Amazon purchased Zappos for nearly $1 billion, chiefly, to acquire its culture. Also noted: Even if you think your company does not have a culture, it does; its just not intentional and therefore likely is not serving you well.

It was agreed following the practice of openly sharing individual DNA Behavior discovery insights (reported results) was also crucial to building an intentional, sustainable culture. For instance, sharing the results of a discovery with the individual completing it and sharing their supervisors and team members profiles with them, and vice versa. Transparent sharing from the top down, bottom up and side to side across teams and the whole business, if you will, can be a powerful part of an optimized culture. The key point is that everyone has a common language to be vulnerable and be able in a more pin-pointed way to share their strengths, struggles and communication style.

We talked about how individual profiles detailing behavioral strengths and challenges (the result of a behavioral discovery tool – think probing questionnaire) are more powerful when used in onboarding and ongoing engagement in the workplace. Now that’s personalization – having someone’s behavior DNA baked into any and all HR processes. We all know that once a person is hired the ongoing relationship with their boss is critical to retention.

Best, this behavior tech is scalable now, in part due to agile API but also because each individual discovery takes approximately 10 to 12 minutes to complete. Thats a minimal individual commitment for results that pay dividends across time, platforms and functions.

Aprs dner

You know how great interactions, idea sharing and brainstorming continue to percolate after, in this case, a dinner? Well, an email two mornings after our Future HRtech dinner came from a participant who was previously not so familiar with our DNA solutions. He’s a serial entrepreneur who knows the value of powerful tech and data solutions across myriad industries.

Reflecting on a solution and corresponding challenge mentioned at the dinner, he had had an idea for a multifaceted app that would both leverage DNA Behavior discovery results and help users deploy them in practical ways, even enabling users to launch new products and services. (Yes, we’ve already put that idea into development.)

It’s always gratifying getting an appreciative, spirited thank-you note after a great dinner. You know what’s better? Enthusiastic participants who continue germinating robust ideas for real-world solutions based on our behavior tech platform.

Make your reservation

In addition to this Future Tech dinner focused on human resources, we previously had one focused on the financial services space. We plan other Future Tech and HRtech dinners and I am excited about what great ideas, insights and collaborations may emerge.

If you’re interested in being part of one of these dynamic evenings, please just drop me a line: inquiries@dnabehavior.com. Your big idea may be the next best thing on the menu.

And if you would like to whet your appetite, take your complimentary BDNA Discovery here; you’ll receive an infographic report were happy to review with you.

Behavioral Science

Behavioral Science Teams Increasingly Important to Financial Services

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

Behavioral sciences teams can influence business strategy, decision-making and service offerings through deep insight into human behavior. Such a teams ability to understand behaviors helps mitigate failure and decrease industry waste.

The more innovative financial services companies are starting to appoint behavioral teams. They understand the power of applying behavioral science to improve customer and employee behavior.

Why add the behavioral facet?

Real-world financial decisions are complex. Investors look to advisors to inform their decisions. They want to make the most of their money to achieve goals and build for their future.

But how can each party build trust sufficient to share life goals? And the other provide corresponding advice that delivers those goals? How can customers be sure their finances are being managed within a culture of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness?

Never has there been a greater need for the financial services industry to prove it can be trusted.

What will be revealed…

Using behavioral science to identify and weed out misconduct is just one aspect, though it may be the most familiar. Being able to better understand people to inform the culture of the business is another side of behavioral science, and a fundamental aspect of building trust.

But the big one – and the one that will build and sustain business – is being able to use behavioral science to better understand customer behavior and to advise them how to make better decisions. Relying on big data itself is not enough. Big data is stronger when paired with little data, if you will; that is, behavioral insights and overlays that are sourced from personality discovery.

Interventions to foster better customer decisions have been around for a long time; behavioral science has opened our eyes to human differences and complexities.

Science, not soft

The application of this approach to the advisor-client relationship is new. The market now offers validated, scientific profiling systems that will identify not just decision making, but also how individuals react under pressure. This information is delivered to the advisor in real time at their fingertips.

Building a trusting and trusted culture based on financial behavior to help clients make better financial decisions is no longer a nice-to-have feature. Its becoming a competitive edge, if not a must-have.

Cost justified

Appointing a behavioral sciences team to work with leadership to shape culture and help advisors work more effectively with clients impacts the bottom line. Using the team in the hiring process and in the workplace sets the trust compass in the right direction.

Applying a behavioral data-gathering discovery places deep insight into the behavioral science teams hands. They can then respond to different demands across the business. From the behavior of the board to the frontline, they can advise and educate on how to understand and leverage (or attenuate) behaviors. Behavioral science teams look for and correct bias. Their work keeps the financial industry honest.

When financial advisors know how to use and apply behavioral insights, they develop stronger client rapport and can give tailored financial advice to clients. Ultimately, they can claim greater market share as they build a reputation of trust and integrity.

Think of that impact industry wide if behavioral science and discovery are applied to recruiting, assessing and managing people, truly tailoring advice, excluding any form of unconscious bias and making sure peoples inherent behaviors are accounted for.

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

Leadership

11 Leadership Styles That Shape A Winning Organization

Building and shaping the culture of an organization begins with the behavior of the leaders. When leaders are behaviorally smart, and understand their leadership and communication style, they are more likely to set the kind of example they want everyone to follow.

There is no one leadership style fits all. The key, through self-awareness, is to find the balance that works with the teams you lead.

The Fast-Paced Leader

A leader who is fast paced, logical, challenging and tends to be critical may well deliver results, but can damage the talent they are responsible for leading. This style of leadership births a culture of stress, staff turnover and unwillingness to want to work under their leadership.

The Analytical Leader

The analytical, systematic, rigid, work by the rules, style of leadership may be a gatekeeper in terms of the processes of the organization, but can shut down innovation, spontaneity and the kind of creative approach to decision making required when things go wrong. This inflexible and rigid style of leadership does not inspire a culture of shared goals, thoughts and ideas.

The Skeptical Leader

In today’s rapidly changing market, businesses need innovation to survive. A skeptical leader who is not open to ideas, continually questions, is guarded and fails to build trust with their teams, will not create the kind of innovative culture that breeds success. Finding a successful balance between trust and a healthy skepticism that protects the business is tough.

The Competitive Leader

Similarly, leaders whose focus is solely on results, who is very competitive and wants always to be the one who sets the agenda, can push teams too hard to achieve goals. If these leaders see targets slipping away they can become manipulative and assume a driven style of leading that causes teams to crash and burn. This approach leads to a toxic culture – very difficult to recover from.

The Peoples Leader

Leaders who are highly people focused and expressive, can inspire passion and purpose, but if this style of leadership is not based on a foundation of a clearly articulated vision and mission, the culture they create is one of chaos and confusion – but fun. Leaders such as this need strong boundaries and need to learn to focus on one goal at a time.

The Risk-Taking Leader

Some leaders are comfortable with taking risks. They know their limitations and are comfortable with managing failure. However, when risk taking leads to over confidence, leaders will cut corners placing the business in jeopardy. Further, team members assume the culture of risk extends to them. This can lead to outlier behavior as they take inappropriate risk that undermines the organization.

The Creative Leader

The highly creative leader embraces new ideas, can be quite abstract in their thinking and open to imaginative approaches to decision making. However, such creative ideas need to have value, they can’t be random as this leads to a culture of anything goes. Creativity in leadership works when it’s part of a culture that is sensitive to teams, colleagues and the overall needs of the business.

The Cooperative Leader

Not many organizations survive on a cooperative style of decision making. When a leader is seen to be compliant others very quickly take advantage of them. They may well be able to communicate the vision and encourage input from teams, but without their own understanding of how to be behaviourally smart, this style of leaderships leads to the loudest voice getting their way. Further, it can lead to a culture of frustration as the leader seeks everyone’s opinion before making a call.

The Reserved Leader

Generally, the reserved, reflective leader tends to be a loner. They do not have an open-door policy and can be withdrawn. This style of leadership breeds a culture of suspicion and can lead to more outgoing team members driving the culture and making decisions that are inappropriate. However, when the leader understands the importance of building relationships, this style of leader is likely to be much more accurate in their instructions. They prefer to get things right first time and will reflect and focus on this.

The Patient Leader

When a leader is overly understanding and tolerant there will always be others who will take advantage of this. A culture of leniency will prevail and mistakes will be repeated leading to frustration and discontent from team members. Generally, this leader tries to create a culture of stability, believing that everyone will function more effectively within the environment. This approach only works when everyone has knowledge of each other’s preferred environment for working, otherwise the culture will be too relaxed.

The Spontaneous Leader

Spontaneity challenges many people who prefer leadership to be structured and predictable. A spontaneous leader creates a culture of impulsiveness and lack of planning and forethought. Spontaneity panics some people and can lead to disruption and stress in the workplace.

A Leader who can create a successful organization culture will not only understand their own natural behavior and how to manage it, they will invest time gaining insight into the behaviors of their teams. When they achieve this balance, the culture they create looks like this:

  • There is a shared vision – communicated in a way that everyone feels valued in role for delivering it
  • There are high levels of personal confidence
  • Everyone has a can-do attitude
  • Teams collectively look for solutions
  • The leaders listen to other ideas and suggestions
  • The individuals feel motivated
  • Attrition is low
  • There are clear goals and everyone knows where they fit in delivering them
  • Success is shared
  • Trust goes both ways
  • There are quantifiable measurable outcomes that demonstrate the culture of the organization

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

As a Financial Advisor, how do you advise Entrepreneurs

Advising Entrepreneurs, as a Financial Advisor

A good idea, a solid strategy, an understanding of clients genetic makeup could be a ticket to their success. But without this insight – failure is more likely both for you as an advisor and for the client who wants to be an entrepreneur.

DNA Behavior International’s extensive research from recent academic research and studies supports the findings that a person is born with entrepreneurial genes. Providing advice to a client like this could be tricky.

A key for financial advisors is to understand the genetic makeup of an entrepreneur. What makes them tick. All entrepreneurs have similar characteristics. Their minds are genetically wired in the same way. In other words, they tend to depart from established patterns of thinking. Their resilience and appetite for risk are inherent qualities. The more mindful financial advisors are in their understanding of the entrepreneurial mind, the greater the chances of success in delivering sound targeted advice.

The Business DNA research concludes that entrepreneurs have the following genes in descending order of dominance:

  1. Resilience (Measured by the Fast-Paced trait) – they achieve results, manage setbacks and rationally take quick action.
  2. Risk Taker (Measured by the Risk trait) – confidently take risks and tolerant of losses.
  3. Creativity (Measured by the Creative trait) – innovative with ideas and seeks to differentiate.
  4. Work Ethic and Focus (Measured by the Pioneering trait) – pursues goals and is often ambitious and competitive.
  5. Charisma (Measured by the Outgoing trait) – outgoing, connects with a lot of people and influences people to follow them.

Entrepreneurs are confident, passionate and determined to succeed. They are comfortable taking the risk and will invest heavily in their business venture, maybe to the detriment of other areas of their life.

However, being genetically predisposed towards entrepreneurialism doesn’t guarantee that an individual will become an entrepreneur and then whether they will succeed. It is not just enough to be born with the entrepreneurial gene, people must do something with it. Financial advisors need to be able to dig below the surface to understand the dynamics of the entrepreneurial client and then can target advice.

Behaviorally smart financial advisors should be:

  • Comfortable being a user to test the financial validity of an opportunity.
  • Confident enough to challenge ideas and ask questions.
  • Trustworthy enough to encourage yet confront when the entrepreneur’s ideas are spinning out of control.

When financial advisors understand that Entrepreneurs are driven by the need to succeed and control their own destiny, they are less likely to put them in a client box. They won’t deliver mundane advice but will recognize the importance of getting inside the mind and genetics of an entrepreneur.

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