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Investment Committee Membership: Professional Significance Isn’t Enough

– First Published on Nasdaq –

Investment Committees have historically been formed based on members’ professional experience. But in today’s climate, would these committees stand up to the scrutiny of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), I wonder?

Like many areas of the financial services industry, much lip service is paid to DEI, yet despite accepted benefits in terms of profitability and productivity, the sector remains primarily white (~80 percent) and male (~80 percent).

Sadly, this is true of many industries and their governing bodies or committees reflect that. Here, I am focusing on financial investment committees and their responsibility to make well-informed, non-emotional decisions.

Money decisions, behavior

Most investment committees have an apparent mission: Serve as stewards for assets of the organization they represent.

Let’s assume that those forming these committees are fully cognizant of what DEI means. One would expect to see a range of experience and talent represented. But remember, each member would bring a decision making and emotional behavioral style with them.

Whether thinkers, initiators, analyzers, persuaders, strategists, or spontaneous, all will have a natural decision-making behavior that needs to be revealed and managed. The complexity of the committee’s decisions certainly doesn’t need behavioral variability to take it off track.

As individuals, these representatives probably make flawless decisions – but put them together in a group to form a committee that makes significant investment decisions, and behavioral diversity in decision making takes over. Emotion takes over. Bias steps in. And the behavioral pull of money pollutes the decision-making process.

DEI + behavioral diversity

So, where does DEI fit in this scenario?

DEI must go beyond socio and ethnic representation – that’s a given. It must also include behavioral diversity. Members possessing differing viewpoints, different decision-making approaches, creative attitudes to money, and a deep understanding of the emotional pull of money must be represented.

Investment Committees have historically been formed based on members’ professional experience. But in today’s climate, would these committees stand up to the scrutiny of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI), I wonder?

Like many areas of the financial services industry, much lip service is paid to DEI, yet despite accepted benefits in terms of profitability and productivity, the sector remains primarily white (~80 percent) and male (~80 percent).

Sadly, this is true of many industries and their governing bodies or committees reflect that. Here, I am focusing on financial investment committees and their responsibility to make well-informed, non-emotional decisions.

Money decisions, behavior

Most investment committees have an apparent mission: Serve as stewards for assets of the organization they represent.

Let’s assume that those forming these committees are fully cognizant of what DEI means. One would expect to see a range of experience and talent represented. But remember, each member would bring a decision making and emotional behavioral style with them.

Whether thinkers, initiators, analyzers, persuaders, strategists, or spontaneous, all will have a natural decision-making behavior that needs to be revealed and managed. The complexity of the committee’s decisions certainly doesn’t need behavioral variability to take it off track.

As individuals, these representatives probably make flawless decisions – but put them together in a group to form a committee that makes significant investment decisions, and behavioral diversity in decision making takes over. Emotion takes over. Bias steps in. And the behavioral pull of money pollutes the decision-making process.

DEI + behavioral diversity

So, where does DEI fit in this scenario?

DEI must go beyond socio and ethnic representation – that’s a given. It must also include behavioral diversity. Members possessing differing viewpoints, different decision-making approaches, creative attitudes to money, and a deep understanding of the emotional pull of money must be represented.

Let’s look to a four-part solution:

  1. Be committed to removing biases and ego.
  2. Uncover the behavioral patterns of committee members, concerning their approach to money.
  3. Engage a tech solution: preferably a highly validated one that also can provide adoption via API, enabling firms to easily layer it into their existing tech stacks.
  4. Secure a behavioral solution that reveals financial behavioral variability in individuals and groups.

When the financial services industry comes to terms with the importance of measuring the impact of human behavior on a range of transactions and decision-making that require human judgment, they will fulfill regulatory requirements and, bonus, build their businesses. The winning methodology: Pursue DEI in earnest, plus go one step further by layering in the functionality to assess and leverage behavioral diversity.

The marriage of these two disciplines is a passion of mine. Please reach out if you or your firm has a perspective or experience to share regarding the synergy of DEI and behavioral science.

See Leon’s other writings for Nasdaq here.

Money: The Greatest Gravitational Force Impacting Decision Making

– First Published on Nasdaq –

I’ve asked many advisors over the past few years, “How much time do you truly spend understanding the emotional behavior of your clients?” On average, the consensus is about 10%.

I then ask, “How much time do you spend understanding your clients’ identity?” this question is met with a blank stare.

The reality is that we know very little about the behavior of our clients, and, consequently, how they make decisions. Making assumptions about who the client is and what their true motivations are is a risky approach. Ultimately, as advisors, our ability to objectively understand how our clients are uniquely “wired” and then building a corresponding healthy relationship with them represents 80% or more of our success on their behalf. And our own success is riding on theirs.

When you think about it, the behavioral dynamics start from the moment a prospect makes contact with your firm. Because of the digital world we live in, that could even be before the first meeting. Therefore, it’s central to the ongoing success of the relationship to deliberately address behavioral differences early.

Deconstructing emotional decisions 

Over the past few months, I have spoken to many industry leaders in what we call Identity Conversations. There is one consistent issue: How to work with clients who make emotional decisions.

All agree that money is the most significant gravitational force impacting decision-making and that there is no doubt that the emotional pull of money can hijack decision-making. The question is how to recognize what it is that triggers these emotional responses.

For me, there is no doubt that understanding identity is key to working with clients. Identity reflects their X factor and their unique algorithm, as well as their values and purpose. Unlock this, and you will know your clients’ motivations, and this will reveal how and where and for what reason they want to build their wealth.

When market movements cause clients to become emotional, you will see what they are inherently trying to protect – their identity. That is the convergence of their talents, passions and life purpose.

Lessons from a challenging season

We don’t know what the world will ultimately look like when this pandemic has left us (and it will). What will the economy look like? How will our working lives have changed? Will our priorities have changed? And perhaps the biggest one of all: What will we have all learned about ourselves and our decision-making approaches during this challenging season?

As advisors, industry leaders or individuals, it’s time to prepare for what comes next. Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Figure out your own identity and those of key players around you. Form an opinion as to how the gravitational pull of money impacts your decision-making and prepare well for the next season via identity empowerment.

And if you are looking for a safe place to start an Identity Conversation, I’m always happy to help you kickstart such.

See Hugh’s other writings for Nasdaq here.

When New Information Changes Perspective

Some twenty-four hours ago, the state government sent our little haven by the ocean into Covid lockdown. We had to get back to our homes with only a few hours’ notice, ensure the fridge was full, and generally watch as our comfy, covid free world imploded.  

No longer, for the foreseeable future, could we sit in the village coffee shop engaging in conversations about other states not being able to cope with the lockdown. No longer could we gloss over the shattered lives due to businesses closing, never to open again.   

Suddenly, it was us. Then, it was our little shops, our little local livelihoods with closed signs at the window.  

I began to realize how perspective about what was happening changed. We saw the issues from a whole different vantage point. What was evident as we called each other was the significantly new attitude now being adopted, not just to our neighbor states but also to our village and the businesses, schools, churches, and all gatherings suddenly in lockdown. 

I’ve been thinking a great deal recently about seeing things differently. My world is all about understanding behaviors, but something is changing. The world and individuals have taken on levels of stress like never before in many of our lifetimes. I notice how emotion is driving significant decisions. I’ve seen a level of fear in conversations. Comments such as – when this is all over, what will the economy look like? Will I have enough savings or retirement income to ride out a financial crash? Will I lose my home? 

If I’ve learned anything about understanding behaviors over many years, It’s that when we understand and can manage our behaviors, it rationalizes our perspective, it frees up the mind to make calmer, more effective, less emotional decisions. 

Let me give you an example using a group of friends I know well. Names have been changed! 

In the face of this current lockdown:

David is an influencer. As the word suggests, he influences; he wants/needs to engage with people. Unfortunately, right now, he is crawling up the walls of his apartment. He is desperately trying to build a range of new businesses, calling friends to get their opinions, making decisions from the most stressful standpoints. Finally, after understanding his behavior (yes, I managed to get him to complete a DNA Behavior Discovery process), he can see that he is creating messy chaos and needs to breathe and start looking at this situation from a different perspective.

Jackie, on the other hand, is a thinker. Very analytical and logical, an absolute rock to have around as she keeps us all accountable by asking endless questions of our little group. Her perspective and counsel are to consolidate, calm down, move forward using rational fact-based decision making. Lockdown has given Jackie a whole new perspective. Firstly the speed at which we were told to go to our homes, no research, no actual planning, lack of organization, and all of us looking to her to ensure systems in place for the business continued to function correctly remotely. Jackie found herself in a difficult position. Again, Jackie completed the DNA Behavior discovery.

Elizabeth is strategic. She asked to complete the DNA Behavior discovery. It confirmed she is a visionary, structured, and takes the lead whenever possible. We all tend to look to her to make the tough calls. To make quick, confident decisions. She is always able to see and minimize the risks. But something changed recently. Perspective shifted. Losing control over the work environment caused her concern. Strategically she could easily find solutions to the lockdown issue, but now the authority to implement them was gone. 

Then there’s me, Vicki – DNA Behavior discovery process nails me to a tee. I am a facilitator, balanced, harmonious, discerning. I need the what-ifs answered. I pull back from all (even reasonable) spending in case something happens to the economy. I like to take time to make decisions, and above all else, I rely on the skills and stability of my colleagues to keep the ship steady. So from my perspective, everything is a bit shaky.

But heh, I’m a facilitator, which means I bring about outcomes by providing indirect assistance and guidance. I keep communication flowing and encourage and change the energy in the zoom room.

And that’s what I did. I ran a DNA Behavior team report for this little group. It showed the strength, pressure points, communication style, bias, and decision-making approach of our team, and so much more. We got together for an online meeting, and I used this information to change our collective perspective. I encouraged them to keep the issue, that is, in lockdown because of Covid, in focus. 

This ‘issue’ is not our fault, not within our power to change the current situation but most definitely within our control to change our perspective in dealing with it. We spent time reviewing our DNA Behavior reports and acknowledging where our pressure points were and how to manage them. We further realized (almost scarily) how fear can take a successful business off course, not because of the shutdown but because of the individual’s behavior and perspective.

We challenged each other’s decision-making. As a result, we are determined to use our inherent behavior and skills to see things differently and ride out this storm without damaging ourselves or the business.

We decided not to waste energy on the lockdown itself because we all had very different responses to that, but to intentionally use our skills to bend but not break in the season we currently face.

If you find yourself in a similar place – you have my sympathy, but do what we did. Head over to DNA Behavior.com and hit the free trial button. You may well find the new information changes your perspective as it did ours.

Financial Advisors + ID + EI – What Does It All Mean?

It’s an age-old question. How can financial advisors break through emotional barriers to help clients with their finances?

In recent Identity conversations with Canon Financial Institutes Executive Director Certifications, William Trigleth III, Hugh Massie,  Chairman and Founder of DNA Behavior Global, talked about the importance of financial advisers understanding Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Identity (ID) as a starting point to knowing how to manage advisor/client behavioral differences.

Trigleth acknowledged to Massie how the application of the DNA Behavior discovery tools helped advisors identify their emotional hotspots and revealed vital areas where clients’ financial conversations would need to be managed. 

An essential part of Identity is getting to grips with our emotional intelligence. It becomes crucial when financial advisors are discussing finances with their clients. Nothing disturbs emotional equilibrium more than conversations around money.

You can view a short version of the Massie/Trigleth conversation here:

Or head to our YouTube Channel to view the whole Identity conversation.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explain!

Over the past four months, Hugh Massie has been conducting online conversations with industry leaders worldwide. The discussions have circled the importance of understanding Identity regardless of the industry they lead. 

A large part of the conversations has revealed how closely aligned self-awareness of one’s own Identity and emotional intelligence are. 

So, what is emotional intelligence?  

In his book A Dictionary of Psychology, Andrew Colman defines Emotional Intelligence this way:

Emotional intelligence (EI) is most often defined as the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. People with high emotional intelligence can recognize their own emotions and those of others, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, and adjust emotions to adapt to environments

There is no doubt financial advisors need to be able to manage behaviors and reactions that their clients have to market movement. Without this understanding, set goals won’t be achieved.

A great starting point is that advisors know themselves first. This self-awareness leading to self-management keeps the advisor very professional. Still, it also ensures their insight positions them to see and manage their clients’ behavior.

‍Remember, the pull of money is a highly emotive subject. Therefore, the more insight an advisor has into their own and their client’s response, the more likely they are to navigate clients through periods of anxiety.

So how can you increase your emotional intelligence? That’s easy. Head over to our website and complete a FREE trial. This is a perfect starting point, and if you want to talk to one of us about the outcomes – no problem, we can do that.

Maybe you think you would benefit from an Identity Conversation with Hugh Massie – let’s see what we can do to set that up.

I will continue to write something about these Identity interviews with these industry leaders. What they are sharing is GOLD. 

Interesting for us is the common thread, i.e., when individuals know their Identity, they can manage money conversations at a whole new level. As a result, they and their clients tend to make significantly better decisions – about money and finances and other things – that could negatively affect them.

Genuine Identity and Purpose: The Money Will Flow

– First Published on Nasdaq –

How does knowing your identity impact how you relate to other people? What part does it play in boosting confidence? Throw the emotional and gravitational pull of money into the mix, and where does knowing or not knowing your identity fit?

There is no doubt that understanding your identity reflects who you are at the core. It informs the direction of your life. It highlights the importance of your communication style, whether professional or personal.

Here, we speak of identity as your inherent or innate passion and purpose and the associated behaviors, good or bad.

People, then numbers

It may go without saying that we are all different and being able to manage differences enriches relationships. That can be particularly impactful in the financial services industry, where the emotional pull of money is front and center.

In fact, understanding the identity of clients is foundational to the advisory process. The same is true of advisors knowing their own identity. On a day-to-day basis, advisors need to be able to adapt their own communication to those of others. For example, they need to know when to be direct, inclusive, soft, a listener, or a counselor.

When knowing identity focuses on the advisor-client relationship, walls come down, creating a much healthier framework for delivering advice. Advice that is likely to be more accurate and lasting. Clients know when an advisor genuinely knows them and cares about their life goals, plans, and wealth creation. They know when advice is more about people than numbers.

Money decisions are different

I’m passionate about pioneering the understanding of money behavior. We of course all have innate behaviors and understanding those behaviors – especially as pertains to decision making – is particularly challenging but also particularly revealing when it comes to money.

Money impacts every aspect of our lives. Money can power our lives positively or negatively, regardless of the amount of money we have.

But what I’ve confirmed over the past few years is that when individuals know their identity, they can put money to work for them positively. As a result, they tend to make fewer decisions – about money and finances but also about other things – that impact them negatively.

When you know your identity, you know your talents, and you know your inherent behaviors, leading to wealth creation via applying your skills and building meaningful, supportive relationships. Whether you are an individual investor or leading a team or organization, it’s essential to understand the energy of money and people’s relationship to it.

Identity as info & armor

We live in a world that is highly dynamic and interconnected. Whether the speed at which we all work, the many ways technology has shaped what we do, or the deluge of opportunities coming at us, we need to be able to flex. To adapt at a moment’s notice.

So, if identity is what shapes and protects us, we understand who we are and our inherent reactions, and we can flex and adapt securely. We are less likely to make bad decisions. Instead, we see opportunities for what they are and choose whether to grab them or walk away.

A cautionary note for advisors and industry leaders is that the environment changes regularly inside a business and in people’s lives. Unless identity is known, you have no way of anticipating how clients will respond to life challenges. In reality, you are advising and leading the (figuratively) blind.

As an advisor, knowing your own identity is transformative. It increases and clarifies the quality of the questions you ask your clients, the observations you make, and the guidance you provide them – including how and when you communicate with them. You know the importance of getting to foundational stuff that means the advice you give or leadership style you adopt is suitable for that individual in that scenario at that time.

The clarity of identity

Whatever your life circumstances are, discovering a robust identity and then living it is the pathway to accelerating your advancement. There are no magic bullets here. There is work and focus involved.

Once you get the clarity of your identity, your confidence will dramatically increase. Confidence is the Number One influencer of performance. The journey will be highly positive, and through it, you will be a better person, at work and at play. And, as an advisor, you will have a better business.

It’s true for both advisors and clients: Genuinely live your identity and your purpose, and the money will follow.

See Hugh’s other writings for Nasdaq here.

Identity Conversation Takeaways: Building Impact with Behavioral Insights

Over the past few months, Hugh Massie sat down with some of the most influential consultants and entrepreneurs. Through their identity conversations, they all shared the impact DNA Behavior has had on their work.

Before Malcolm Le Lievre from BrilliantFIT met Hugh and was introduced to DNA Behavior, he instinctively prioritized building a relationship with his team. Although he’s always been a results-driven leader, he knew that nurturing team relationships and showing them his support, will positively impact their performance.

When he met Hugh and learned about the power of behavior, it all made sense to him. It transformed him as a leader and changed the way his team perceives him.

Deborah de Jong is the ultimate behavioral design influencer. With a passion for interior design, she took interest in human behavior early on in her career.

Deborah is a renowned interior designer, TV personality, business consultant, and the Founder and CEO of Emmanuel One Pty Ltd. She has been utilizing behavioral insight to create design plans that match her clients’ personalities.

Greg’s biggest passion is to help drive impact. He always felt a deep empathy toward others and has learned to harness that feeling to help and support those around him. 

Familiarizing himself with DNA Behavior’s insights has transformed his work as a coach. As an Engager, which is his behavioral style, he has inert ease connecting with others and coaching them to build impact.

The power of DNA Behavior is undeniable. It gives you and your team the strategic advantage you need to move your business forward. If you’re ready to stop the guessing game and leverage our 500+ insights, take our assessment today and let’s uncover your behavioral style.