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When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

Since the global financial crisis and recession, clients are driving the industry in ways never thought possible (or appropriate).

Investor fears, lack of confidence and market uncertainty are provoking clients to demand better and more personalized advice from advisors. In this new client-led environment, advisors are struggling to understand how to navigate clients’ emotions, inconsistent thoughts and biases, while remaining in control of the advisory process. The relationship becomes further strained when the client presents as a know-it-all, bent on self-sabotaging.

Much is written about the role of the advisor and their behavior, but less about clients who don’t seek advice, but, rather, instruct advisors, perhaps to their own peril.

If the role of a financial advisor is, and should be, to advise, then what approach can they take to manage clients who know everything and think it is they who are the experts? Likewise, what to do when clients repeat mistakes and don’t want to learn from them?

Clients with this self-sabotaging approach to their investments are often unwilling to listen, are not open to new ideas or collaboration, and believe their opinions are the only ones that matter. As an advisor, these client traits may ring true for you.

Unfortunately, all advisors will experience such clients at some point. The key is knowing how to manage it in a way that provides a win/win solution to the client’s wealth creation options and maintains a healthy advisor/client relationship. Here are a few techniques to apply and to identify and challenge the self-sabotaging behavior of clients:

  1. Listen empathetically; remember the clients’ approach could stem from a lack of confidence around money, which to many is an emotive subject.
  2. Don’t let your frustration show; this is a client, not an adversary. Acknowledge what they are saying, as this engages and keeps them connected into the conversation.
  3. Remember, you are the financial expert, so get your facts straight, but be willing to listen to their investment suggestions and demonstrate your openness by offering to research on their behalf.
  4. Don’t allow the conversation to get away from you. Stay calm and focused. Most importantly, ask questions. Investors tend to get agitated by market volatility, perhaps unaware just how normal it is. The power of targeted questions can unravel some of this self-sabotaging behavior.

These techniques are more powerful when advisors have a level of information in advance of client meetings, as they can be tailored to each client’s uniqueness. Not only can financial personality be revealed, but perhaps more importantly, a guide to individually crafted questions is available to advisors so they can manage meetings based on revealed behavior.

Increasingly, the financial industry is turning to scientifically-based data gathering to prepare advisors, in advance of client meetings. Not only does this insight identify self-sabotaging behavior and provide direction on how best to manage it – it also delivers insight into:

  • Bias that can get in the way of investment strategy.
  • How to place clients more effectively at the center of the planning process.
  • Planning risks triggered by self-sabotaging behavior.
  • Issues, often hidden below the surface, that drive imperfect decision-making.
  • Risk propensity and risk tolerance that needs to be known and managed.
  • Whether the client sees their advisor as a financial coach and wants the relationship to be collaborative or Wants to delegate their financial decision making to the advisor and simply be kept informed.

Advisors who invest in scientifically based client discovery processes, understand that self-sabotaging behavior can come in many forms and that managing it must be approached on an individual basis.

Next time we’ll talk about things advisors need to know to better identify and assist this type of client, including how client behavioral insights empower advisors. In the meantime why not try our complimentary DNA Behavior Natural Discovery here.

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

Transform Your Client Experience to Grow

For advisors, growing your financial planning business is about getting more of the right clients who you can profitably serve on a sustained basis. This means you must have financial planning clients who will pay for the value you provide and will allow you to do so efficiently and with minimum wasted energy. I am sure this sounds logical and for many financial advisors this will sound obvious. The question is: are you acquiring clients and managing relationships as well as you can?

Creating the right client acquisition plan does not just happen and normally you need to have been in business at least 5 years to be in a place to work out is right. Experience is needed. One starting place to getting the right plan in place will be performing a financial analysis of your business to determine the profitability of your client relationships. In my experience, it will not always be your highest fee paying clients who are the best clients to have.

However, I would seriously recommend in building your client acquisition plan that you consider the client experience being provided. Remember, we are in an experience economy. Transforming the client experience you wish to provide is the key to growing your business and also your revenue. This is where the perceived value will come from. The starting point for this transformation process is with YOU personally understanding who you are, your Financial DNA personality and your life purpose. Consider:

  • What are your talents and unique gifts?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your own life and financial motivations?
  • Where could you make the most difference in the life of your clients?
  • How do you wish your service to be remembered?
  • How will you differentiate your service?
  • What capabilities do you have to develop?
  • What processes do you have to build?
  • What will the profile of the desired clients be?

THEN, address what fees you need to charge to profitably deliver this service experience, and the fee charging model. From this platform you can determine your client selection policy and the ideal practice for you.

For you to be successful in creating an experience your service must create feelings. The client must feel that who they are is understood along with their life. Further, your clients must feel that they are making the right life, financial and investment choices. So, your client service experience must have a greater “inside out” feeling and hence methodology to it. This is not just connecting with the client on an inside-out basis up-front to build the plan. The inside-out experience must be continually provided every year through the review meetings and in every communication. You will only achieve this by creating a service model that is authentically connected to the core of who you are and also the core of who your clients are.

Fundamental to the approach I have been using for the last 10 years is to have all of my clients complete a Financial DNA personality test up-front in the planning process. This creates the feeling of being understood. The feelings of understanding and trust are accelerated when the client sees my own Financial DNA personality profile. This now makes us more equal and shows I have walked the journey too. From here, I build the whole planning experience tailored to who the client is so that they can make the right choices.

To learn more about Financial DNA and building the “Ideal DNA Advisory Practice” visit: www.financialdna.com/advisor