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.