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Know Your Client’s Trust Levels

Last week I was working with one of our Certified Wealth Mentors with my role to offer some behavioral insights on some difficult client cases. The cases were difficult because of the clients attitudes not only to financial decision-making but also to life. These cases reaffirmed to me how much trust is core to all dimensions of every client situation. This is why when we redeveloped our DNA personality system in the past year we made trust a new stand-alone personality factor.

Often when we talk about trust it is in the context of our role as trusted advisor and building open relationships with clients. Certainly, this is an important dimension. Talking about trust in this way is fine. However, the heart of truly understanding trust and to knowing our clients is to know where trust comes from. There are a number of very important dimensions to trust that we all need to know. Let me ask you the question: How much do you trust yourself? Trusting yourself is the starting point of building sound relationships and also making sound decisions. Your own level of personal trust will determine whether you will trust others and then whether others will trust you. So, if you want to know whether your clients will trust you, reflect on your own level of self trust and then learn about their self trust.

We all have a natural level of trust which comes with our natural DNA behavioral style and then there are life experiences added on top which deepen or reduce our trust levels. The more we know who we are and have personal confidence then the more likelihood that we will trust.

In one of the client cases I was referring to the client was 60 years old with a very successful business and over $10 million to his name and annual income of over $2 million. However, he was personally unhappy, not prepared to let go of the iron grip on his business or prepared to create an estate plan his family could know about or be involved in. Does this sound familiar? This is a client who has very low personal trust levels and it transcends every part of his life. It will be very hard for this advisor to get close and really provide the advice he needs and on the other side the advisor will find it hard to meet expectations. A no win situation.

Have you seen people make fear based decisions and not be transparent? This starts from low personal trust levels. As a service provider you want to know your clients trust levels early if you are going to have a close and profitable relationship. You will never be able to help this type of person until you can discover the source of the fear. The difficulty is getting them to tell you. I do find that when you can get a client to talk about their strengths and passions you have a much greater chance of unlocking the fear, and trust grows from there.

Do You Know Who Your Clients Are?

No matter the industry, providers of products and services are always saying something to the effect of: “You are blind as to who is going to walk in the front door for their first meeting with you. As you work with the client a bit you have a greater collection of knowledge but still not the whole picture. It can still take 10 years or more to really know who you are dealing with”. Do you truly know the life and financial motivations of your clients? Their deepest desires? Do you know their risk tolerance? Do you know what types of products and services they want?

The reality is that most providers of products and services know very little about their clients. For the first few hours from meeting the client research shows that less than 10% is known about the client and in the medium term less than 20%. How much better off would the client and the provider be if more was known earlier?

The question I have is: why don’t product and service providers seek to find out more about their clients? One reason is that it is hard and we do not have the time. So, the key is finding a way to quickly and non-invasively get the information you want and make the client feel understood. The process must be mutual.

Our “inside out” process for serving clients is below. Most providers start at step 3 – the product providing point. Whereas starting at step 1 is key – understanding the client’s life and financial motivations. Step 2 is to demonstrate empathy by communicating on the clients terms, and then step 3 is to match the DNA of the client to the right product. Finally, step 4 is to guide the client to make the right choices.

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If you want to get started on this process, please go to www.dnabehaviormarketing.com and take our complimentary Communication DNA profile. Then you can see how to bring this process into your business to get to know your clients at a deeper level much more quickly for a more productive outcome.

Improving the Connection with Your Prospects and Clients

Have you considered what is going to propel growth in your business in the coming months and years? Schwab conducted a research study in March 2009 which shows the greatest 3 enablers of growth are:

1. Closing the deal with prospects – 75%
2. Maintaining quality service – 73%
3. Adding new technology for scalability – 67%

So what is your strategy for closing more prospects more quickly and improving client service? How are you going to maintain and enhance your client service? Success comes back to the old adage “know thy client”. People pay lip service to this, but do they really do it? And how well?

My view is that you will not know the motivations of your prospects and clients and how to communicate with them until you objectively know their DNA behavioral style. Once you know their DNA you can more quickly build a deeper relationship and also match them with the right choices for purchasing your products and services. Trust will be developed very quickly and your sales will increase.

This is the foundation of our DNA Marketing system (go to www.dnabehaviormarketing.com). Our DNA Marketing system provides you with an online behavioral marketing system whereby all of your prospects and clients can complete a profile online on your website. From there you will be able to seamlessly communicate with the prospects and clients on their terms and also customize your product and service offerings based on who they are. Using this system will deepen and scale your marketing. Also, this approach addresses one of your greatest barriers to growth which is not having enough time for business development and marketing.

Investment Risks Rooted In Human Behavior

A statement I have been making to many people for the last 10 years is: “Investment markets cannot be controlled, but how you manage your reaction to them can be”.

Generally, for most investors the reason that they obtain returns which are on average 6% lower than market returns is because of their behavior. Investors generally make poor investment decisions because of their reactions to events and also to their own life circumstances. This can be because they do not know who they are or how to manage their emotional impulses which are driven from how they are wired to behave. I really want to emphasize that successful investing is about managing your behavior.

If you are an advisor, it is about predicting and managing your client’s behavior and also managing your own behavior. So when you talk about managing investment risk, what you are really talking about is managing BOTH human behavior and the market risks. This is fundamental to the value proposition for obtaining advice from an advisor. Clearly, it is important that the advisor also has a high degree of financial emotional intelligence.

Traditionally, when risk is talked about in investing, everyone talks about market risks and to some degree investor risk tolerance. The reality is that there are so many more risks which need to be addressed which all have an impact on the investment decisions made. These additional risks are behavioral. To make the point, I have prepared the following table which highlights many of the “Investment Impact Risks” that can influence investment decisions and ultimately the investment returns a person achieves. This is what needs to be managed.

Click Here for the illustration.

So, there is a very strong case for every person to have behavioral guidance from an advisor no matter how knowledgeable or experienced they are with investments. The behavioral guide or what we call a “wealth mentor” needs to have a true understanding of a person’s Financial DNA which is their financial behavioral style. The Financial DNA is shaped from genetics, early life experiences and then overall life experiences, values and education. At a broad level, the behavioral information that needs to be discovered is in the following categories of information, as they all impact the investment decisions made in some way.

The reason we advocate that investors and advisors (the behavioral guide) complete behavioral profiles early in the advisory process is because they provide objective and measurable insights into the complete financial behavioral style on a holistic basis. With a good behavioral profile, not only is the risk tolerance discovered, but also completely who the person is at a much deeper level than what any normal person can reliably do on their own. You truly get below the surface. Remember, no matter how evolved you are personally, we all have blind spots and biases. Very often clients “eat” the behavior of the advisor. So, the advisory process becomes dangerous if the advisor is not aware of his or her blind spots.

Which ever angle you come from they all lead to the point that investment risks are rooted in human behavior.

Managing Your Clients Through Turbulent Times

Well the stock market has gone to 10 year lows. Has it hit the bottom? That is not necessarily the crucial issue although this downward spiral will be raising more fears. What is crucial is how you handle this situation in terms of your own behavior and managing that of your clients. If you read my last blog you will see research is showing that advisors are on the whole not going far enough in client discovery and in particular understanding behavior.

Here are some tips for managing your clients which are all based on having greater behavioral understanding:

  1. Help your client to objectively face the reality of their situation. This requires understanding how they will innately respond to times of change and difficulty. Are they a rational decision-maker or a procrastinator?
  2. To make your clients feel comfortable and respond to your advice communicate on their terms not through your lens.
  3. Re-evaluate your clients risk tolerance – most measures of risk tolerance are situational. You really want to know their hard-wired risk tolerance as this will be the paradigm from which they make decisions now and in the future.
  4. Build a behavioral portfolio for your clients – base the asset allocation on who they are.
  5. Review the clients product suitability from a behavioral standpoint.
  6. Re-build the overall financial plan recognizing who the client is and their changed circumstances.
  7. Critical to helping your clients move forward is to help them find what their true life purpose is. After all they will still be breathing tomorrow. So lets get a positive state of mind on how they will live their life.
  8. Review your client service team. Have you got “round pegs in round holes” for serving the clients? The advisor client match process is very important.
  9. Transform the client experience you provide. Look how you can make every aspect of it totally client centric and you will be amazed at the bottom line results.
  10. Project positive energy and confidence. This means being very comfortable with who you are and your planning approach. People like animals sense fears and will react.

Remember times of change and difficulty bring opportunity. Are you up to it?