Often in business, the way forward is not or but and. That is, not abandoning one cornerstone for another; rather, adding other building blocks as necessary. It’s the cumulative approach that can streamline savvy organizations who are able to move beyond the fear of adding additional elements or layers.
We’ve been seeing this trend in a way that is particularly connected to our work, at the intersection of data and behavior. But let’s look back a moment before looking forward.
Corporate Culture Five Years in the Making:
For the past five-plus years there has been a strong focus on corporate culture, including the installation of a Chief Corporate Culture Officer or some other executive-level champion of thoughtful, strategic culture initiatives. To a great degree, they focused on goals, alignment, and communication, with tentacles reaching into every corner of an organization. That is great and we should not throw out our emphasis on the power of a curated corporate culture.
Still, the last few years also have seen the amount of data organizations wield grow exponentially. That too is good and exciting, but only if they can fully leverage that data while at the same time deftly coordinating all the many aspects that affect and are affected by data or otherwise have to be part of the collaborative, comprehensive mix.
Chief of Corporate Culture:
So, let’s get back to that trend I hinted at above. At the intersection of culture, people, customer experience, big data, AI, machine learning and all of the other elements a robust organization must exist. Leaders are beginning to see the next overlay many will need to connect all of these dots. That is a Behavioral Science Officer or behavioral science team’s role. We know people approach and understand things differently and communicate in myriad ways. That’s what is driving these leaders to envision some sort of coordinated effort that leverages behavioral data across disparate areas of their business.
This might address anything from testing out new products, experimenting with words and customer retention to hiring, governance, regulation and accountability. In short, not only harvesting people data, but also ensuring it is valid and relevant and maximally redeployed to greatest effect.
A devil’s advocate might say of course this sounds like a good idea to someone who offers a validated behavioral discovery tech platform. But truth is, the need for a top-down, across-all embrace of behavioral science is bigger than just that tech platform, which could be one very effective part of such a rollout, but, still, only one part of it.
At Business DNA we help firms large and small their Corporate Culture. Register to learn more.
Behaviors Role in Corporate Culture:
The amount of data, including all sorts of behavioral data (whether harvested or not), generated and held by organizations will continue to grow. So will the need to improve everything from products to profits and accountability by leveraging the massive amounts of information. By managing behavior.
I would venture to say that even the early adopters of a behavior tech platform like ours would realize the most success by taking a big-picture, infrastructure approach to behavior sciences. Ultimately, the key is to activate all of the insight data you have (access to) so you can know, engage and grow employees and clients, anticipating what they want and need – and delivering it – maybe even before they know what they want.
All business is about people, and because business is a people science, we must understand human nature to truly excel at and understand business. Human nature is stable and needs to be understood; doing so can and will affect your bottom line. Using a behavioral science approach will identify the business goals and challenges that can be reached and resolved through the scalable and practical application of what I like to refer to as understanding people before numbers.
What areas of your organization would benefit from the layering in of behavioral science? And can you foresee a Chief of Corporate Culture or behavioral sciences team member in your organizations future?
I’m interested in your take on this, so talk back: Hmassie@dnabehavior.com. I’ll, of course, be watching this trend and any others that touch behavior, money, and tech. I promise to report back.
Picture this – you’re heading to a potentially great business opportunity, one that could significantly shift your organization to the next level.
You are well prepared, have all your ducks in a row and as you arrive at the meeting place, realize, you have no idea how best to communicate with the CEO you are about to meet.
You see – so far the pitch has been via emails, attached marketing material, answered questions back and forth all leading to today. BUT no thought of how to communicate in a Behaviorally Smart way.
All the preparation in the world won’t get the deal if you have no idea how best to communicate when you are in the room.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it. Made assumptions based on LinkedIn profiles; about me sections of websites; or Googled to find pen pictures, but the reality is – you don’t know me, and I don’t know you.
In her article The 5 Personality Traits That Make for a Better Life Science of Us Melissa Dahl makes this observation: people are complicated, perhaps more complicated than these (Big Five) five aspects of personality can adequately represent..
Yes, people are indeed complicated, but why couldn’t part of preparation for an event such as this include knowing in advance how individuals communicate; what their business approach style is, all of which would create a starting point to inform the meeting and with such powerful information build greater connection and trust.
The answer is simple DNA Natural Behavior Discovery puts you in the driving seat of your relationships, whether business or personal. It takes just 10 minutes to complete and can form the basis of every, and any connection. All it takes is emailing a link and asking the prospect, client, staff member to complete it. They complete a questionnaire, and a report is produced. But it doesn’t stop there – you can then compare your personality profile with the person you are about to engage with and produce a meeting report that will not only provide insight into how to communicate, but how best to present your offering.
This Behaviorally Smart approach is used in endless numbers of scenarios – to name just a few:
- Financial advisor and client
- Making a pitch to a VC
- Performance review
- Building teams
- Managing boardroom challenges
- Selecting a mentor
- Family succession planning and so much more.
With reliability factor of 91% and having been completed by millions of people – taking the DNA Behavior journey will not only set you up for success but set you apart from others regarding the professional way in which you approach business meetings.
In my journey as a wealth mentor over the last 20 years, and developing a rigorous scientifically based behavioral finance approach for the last 15, I have watched the risk profiling discussion seriously evolve from denigration to one that is being more intelligently embraced and applied. From advisors, clients, compliance departments, and regulators: what is the misunderstanding of an investor’s risk profile?
The problem is a combination of factors:
- Lack of clarity in the terminology as to what defines risk profile. For instance, interchanging risk tolerance, risk perception, and risk capacity although all have different meanings.
- Regulators worldwide have created principles based laws around risk profiling. But the legislative vagueness leaves too much open for interpretation leaving many firms doing virtually nothing.
- Compliance departments allowing “tick-the-box” methods of risk profiling along a broad array of approaches from doing nothing, to guessing, observing, or 3-to-5 hacked together questions.
- Applying the risk profile in a linear way based on a single measurement.
- Lack of understanding risk profiling at a deeper level because many of the instruments and processes are slapdash and poorly constructed. Even the better tools are one dimensional but are used to measure all aspects of risk, which is wrong and misleading.
- The Inability of advisors/consultants to integrate risk profiling and behavioral discovery into the client onboarding process.
- An unwillingness to have the client invest time in additional questionnaires viewed as distracting from getting on-boarded.
- The plethora of online investing platforms leveraging a quick & dirty approach to “knowing the investor” without any real insights.
The positive development now is that there is a heightened awareness of the need to adopt a more formalized behavioral discovery process, recognizing that risk taking, tolerance, and loss aversion are separate and measurable personality traits. And it’s a combination of all the risk factors, along with many cognitive biases, that interplay in how decisions are made.
Further, the compliance environment is requiring a strengthening in processes because the #1 issue on the agenda of regulators is dealing with the increase in investor complaints from a lack of suitability. Suitable solutions will never be able to be satisfactorily offered with demonstrated client buy-in unless EACH of the multi-dimensional elements that make up the risk profile is understood by both the advisor and the client.
For the last 15 years in my role as a wealth mentor, I have been guiding advisors and clients to understand the multi-dimensional nature of their risk profile as highlighted in the table below.
A risk profile is not a single number determined in a vacuum. In fact, it is a quantifiable number made up of many measurable financial and personality based elements. Whether you use the Financial DNA Discovery Process or other platform, I suggest you follow these key steps to identify and apply risk profiling:
- Use the client’s long-term risk profile for building a long-term portfolio and predicting how they will intrinsically make decisions over the long term (this is what Daniel Kahneman refers to as the Level 1 behavior). The correct questionnaire structure is absolutely critical to getting this result. In my terms, this is the hard-wired natural DNA Behavior. The questionnaire should be designed and independently validated based on sound psychometric principles.
- Understand the short-term risk profile based on current situational attitudes and how the client manages themselves (Kahneman’s Level 2 behavior). This is what many risk tolerance questionnaires seek to measure with varying degrees of quality and accuracy.
- Separate the various calculations of the Risk Need to achieve the client’s goals and Risk Capacity being their financial ability to sustain losses from the various personality traits associated with risk, risk propensity (desire to take risks), risk tolerance (emotional ability to live with losses), loss aversion (emotional reaction to markets), risk and product perception (reaction to situations and products ), and risk preferences (personal evaluation of preparedness to take risk in a given situation or with a product).
- Know each client’s Risk Composure – how they are feeling during up and down market movements. Some will embrace down markets and others will fear them. Of course, added to this is knowing how to communicate with clients during these different times.
- When wealth mentoring the client, help them set purpose based goals that are clearly defined for keeping them focused on what’s important. An IPS can be used as the guide-stick and for getting the client’s emotional buy-in.
- Finally, as an advisor, know the influence of your own risk profile and behavioral biases. Your mindset can inadvertently play out with the client whereby over time they eat your risk profile.
Here are other good resources that support the steps highlighted above:
Part 1 of 3 – How well he knows himself!
Well, the Trumpster beat the odds and has jumped over everyone to win the Presidency. How did he do it? The answer is deeply rooted in Donald Trump’s behavioral insights – his natural, hard-wired Influencer DNA Behavioral Style. These personality insights identify the primary drivers of his good (and bad) leadership decisions, financial dealings and general approach to life.
I’m not running for office. I don’t have to be politically correct. I don’t have to be a nice person. Like I watch some of these weak-kneed politicians, it’s disgusting. I don’t have to be that way.
– Donald Trump
Donald Trump’s Influencer behavioral style has made him successful, but if not managed, could be his downfall. Overall he (is):
- Driven by power and success
- Very spontaneous and instinctive
- Extremely creative and an out-of-the-box thinker
- A take-charge, decisive and a fast-paced decision-maker
- Works with people to get the results he wants
- Could be unsympathetic to others needs
- A strong communicator but lacks filters
- Very confrontational and prepared to play tough
- Into achieving economic and political goals. He could risk a lot and be too optimistic
- Into trying new ways. Sometimes they win, and other times they fail.
- Has a transactional mindset and could be too impatient when a program does not work out quickly
Donald Trump’s behavioral insights reflect that he is supremely cognizant of these behavioral abilities and uses each to further his personal agenda.
It is clear Trump knows his personality; he knows success is his lifetime goal. Anyone who has even limited behavioral awareness should have known that the election trail was all about the salesman’ getting the sale (the White House). But from here on we’ll see the negotiator because that’s how he knows he will get results. Trump will be a hard-nosed negotiator; whether putting together a White House team or negotiating trade deals on the world stage, he will be reluctant to give in on even the smallest points.
The old idiom my way or the highway will probably be the new White House mantra.
Trump won’t be fearful of taking risks, he will play the odds, some you win and some you lose, but as long as he is always moving forward to the goals and objectives he has set – he’ll feel he is on track.
As a decision maker, Donald Trump will not be readily swayed by sentiment or humanitarian impulses. This will be advantageous when it comes to balancing competing interests or bargaining with adversaries. He is likely to be a bold and ruthlessly aggressive decision maker showing little concern for the emotions of others.
That said – he knows how to keep people on board; he knows how to set others up for success in order to achieve his goals. The result is, a Trump that is equipped to be a strategic player in situations where achieving results is a priority and concentrate on matter-of-fact, practical issues.
Listening to those around him talking about his loyalty, great to work for, cares about me and my family, further demonstrates his ability to manage his personality. Confident, goal-setting people, such as Trump, excel by blending their strong drive to reach key goals with sound knowledge, high-quality processes and quality control standards.
With his outgoing and innovative nature, there is no doubt Trump is the Populist’s choice. Ultimately, he won from his preparedness in the rural areas where Hillary did not go. He won what should have been Democrat territory
Trump v Clinton – The Comparison
98/66 Trump makes fast decisions; sometimes getting it wrong but always moving forward. Clinton hesitates, wanting more information, with a propensity to procrastinate.
73/96 Trump breaks down boundaries and doesn’t wait to anticipate outcomes. Clinton is only interested in knowing the outcome of decisions she might make.
99/54 Trump is all about setting the bar as high as possible in achieving goals. Clinton tends towards keeping things as they are.
62/95 Trump changes direction mid-stream if a better plan is formulated to bring success. Clinton sticks to agreed and established direction and agendas to achieve goals even if they may not work out.
92/66 Trump is open to new ideas if it achieves his goals. Clinton is more stuck in the status quo.
90/66 Trump is not into details, he just wants results and will say what he wants to say even if possibly wrong; decides instinctively. Clinton needs details, analysis, and research in order to make decisions.
90/79 Trump is clear and forthright in expressing and communicating. Clinton is less so, which might cause confusion in mixed messaging.
96/79 Trump is not fazed by conflict. Clinton is less comfortable with conflict.
84/90 Trump is motivated by his own personal interest or advantage, especially without regard for others. Clinton, even more so.
90/92 Neither are empathetic towards issues others face.
To give Mr. President Elect the final word – “No dream is too big, no challenge is too great. America will no longer settle for anything less than the best.”
According to David Dubofsky, Ph.D., CFA, and Lyle Sussman, Ph.D. in their study, “The Changing Role of the Financial Planner Part 1: From Financial Analytics to Coaching and Life Planning”, approximately 25% percent of the financial advisor’s contact with clients is devoted to non-financial issues. About 74% percent of planners estimate that the amount of time they are spending on these issues has increased over the last five years. Source
There is mounting evidence to show that financial advisors indeed have to radically change their approach to the way they relate to investors.
Money has always been a ‘touchy’ ’emotional’ subject. Whether discussions resolve around – making it, losing it, sharing it, incorrectly quoting about it i.e. “money is the root of all evil” when the correct quote is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Timothy 6:10 – the topic can become toxic.
Why then are we surprised (as I was) to find financial therapists popping up in our world? Or why do we think that financial advisors need to know all about our life and emotional state like a doctor? Is it unlike the mechanic that inquires about our driving habits as part of diagnosing a problem, or advising if those squeaky brakes need to be changed sooner than later? In that case, we’ve surrounded ourselves with all sorts of professionals and experts, acting as doctors and therapists to help us along in meeting our daily needs and lifelong goals.
Source Photographer: Josh Dickinson
Well, it’s actually quite simple really: the majority of us have no idea what triggers we inherently have that govern the way we manage our finances. We would be alarmed to know we have inherent behavioral biases. We would cringe at the thought of having allowed the bankruptcy our grandparents suffered to dictate the ugliness with which we now accumulate and “store” our wealth.
But take heart these triggers can be revealed, they can be managed and we can work with our financial advisors to develop plans to create wealth that line up with our life goals and values.
In his book Behaviorally Smart Financial Planning: Behavioral Finance Made Practical for Advisors’ Hugh Massie makes the following comment, “Observations and traditional risk profiles don’t get below the surface where much about investor behavior is hidden. Financial advisors should know how to uncover what is happening as investors think through’ decisions.”
The truth is financial advisors need to know how to uncover what lies below the surface of our decision making. They need to know what historical events impact our view of creating/managing wealth. So yes, they do have to approach the advisor/investor relationship a bit differently today. But here’s the good news, they don’t have to spend 8 years or so studying to become a doctor.
The right tools and training for uncovering our core natural behavior is the key. For example, DNA Behavior International has a significant discovery platform called Financial DNA that reliably discovers all dimensions of an investor’s financial personality and inherent bias for making life and financial decisions. The discovery process is fast and accurate and places vital information in the hands of financial advisors before the first meeting with their investor clients.
Investors need an advisor who can guide them towards making informed decisions, one who speaks to them in a style that’s easily relatable while mitigating emotional, kneejerk responses. Emotion plays a significant role in so many parts of our lives that having an investor to coach us through the feelings and reactions, and keep decision making on the right track is necessary.
Financial advisors must understand their clients at a deeper level. It is essential to have a practical understanding of the psychology, emotions and biases that significantly influence investor’s imperfect decision-making patterns. Furthermore, advisors should understand how to recognize and manage their own biases when working with investors.
Ultimately, it is fair to say that the role of the financial advisor has changed, and will continue to do so. But there is no doubt that with a reputable and appropriate process, advisors can be well informed in advance of a first investor meeting.
Conversations around money will always be complex. While we talk more freely about other intimate subjects, when money enters the conversation, emotion, distorted stories, ego, and even fear enter right along with it.
In conclusion, if we understand our financial behavior then we can balance our emotions and beliefs. We will act more wisely with our money. Conversely, if we lack understanding and are confused about why we make certain decisions, then the decisions will be poor, creating financial chaos and discontent. Advisors need to be fully equipped and prepared to unravel investor’s complex issues around money. Investors need to be able to trust advisors in order to reveal information.