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Who Is Your Community and How Are You Influencing It?

– First Published on Nasdaq –

In many ways, the pandemic denied us access to the ever-important concept of “community.” We had to find new and innovative ways to stay in touch with others.

Still, there is no true substitute for one-on-one or one-on-many connections. Especially those with a range of people with which to build relationships and community.

So, as I conclude my look at what it means to live a quality life, I’m reminded that if 2020 has taught us anything, it should be the importance of having deep social bonds and meaningful relationships. Again, community.

Setting life goals

Along with my growing band of online social network connections, I have deliberated on our life goals, what we want to accomplish and where and how we want to invest our money, realizing that finding the answer to these questions has required each of us to dig deep into our DNA, including the behaviors that drive decision-making, support values and fulfill personal ambitions.

Setting clear life goals is beneficial in several ways. However, setting life goals that make a difference in the world is trickier.

As I review past goals and begin crafting the way forward with a focus on community, I find myself looking to my behavior and asking why I am drawn to certain projects. I am a strategist with a strong drive to reach key goals, based on sound knowledge, high quality processes and quality control standards.

This inherent behavior is not at odds with how I have been going about my quality life. I don’t need to change my behavior, but what I find myself doing is realigning what I have always wanted to do with my life. This past year of isolation has brought that realignment to the fore. So, how to adjust my personal, financial and commercial goals more intentionally to achieve a quality life?

When life goals are based on our values, they are meaningful. When they align with our behavior they allow us to pursue authentic aims of our own choosing and enjoy a feeling of achievement when we get there.

The more I have considered my life goals, how I invest and where I invest, the more I recognize I am charting a course for the next season of my life.

Underpinnings of behavior

My community is more than neighbors or supporting environmental issues; these are a given focus. My community is industry leaders, individuals building a business, and – top of the list – captains of industry facing high-stakes interactions where understanding the behaviors at play will drive solutions for them.

If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that the motivating force beneath any and all behaviors is money.

Business leaders, advisors and investors are now recognizing the influence of behavior and money attitudes on life, and on financial and business performance. Increasingly, a person’s financial behavior is being seen as a derailer of decision-making and relationships, not to mention the achievement of life goals.

Here’s how I’m working on achieving life goals, aligned to passion to support my community: Over the past few weeks I have been conducting one-on-one online conversations with key leaders and professionals representing a wide variety of industries.

The purpose is identifying how their talents and individual EQ plays a role in maximizing their impact and what they have come to understand about their behavior patterns. In every case, so far, there has been a significant moment when understanding their behavior changed the direction of their life.

Big questions lead to simple questions, answers

In all cases each wanted to finish their working day believing they had made a difference for good. So my question to you is this: Who is your community and how are you influencing it?

Pursuit of Money Can Kill Relationships

– First Published on Nasdaq –

As I continue my journey through gaining a deeper understanding of what living a quality life actually means, I’m reminded that my original life plan was to create wealth, be successful and provide for my family.

I previously would have said that all the financial decisions I make point me toward achieving that plan. During this time of pandemic lock down, however, I – like many others – have taken time out to consider how well I’ve achieved these goals. Or not. And whether a directional change is needed in terms of my quality life goals.

Succeed, with relationships intact

I recently held a virtual round table with friends. We’re all at the same stage in life, all having the same rethinking life moments, and I put these questions to them: What is the biggest stumbling block? The most difficult to resolve as you build your wealth?

I was surprised to hear that each responded in a similar vein: The biggest challenge they face is damage to relationships.

While our intention in terms of wealth creation is laudable; that is, building wealth for the family, investing in building our businesses and ultimately having meaningful goals that build a quality life, the reality for each of us was some cost to our relationships in some area of life – family, business or personal.

It’s probably worth stating that we as a friendship group are quite alike behaviorally. We are initiators, strategists and world pioneers in our chosen fields. But, that said, we each acknowledge that we didn’t always get relationships right.

Two of us are in the business of understanding behavioral differences, but it was a journey to get there and there was some bruising along the way. For the others, we decided to dig deeper into where the relationship “fails” were and why.

On a personal level, each shared that discussions around finances caused stress. Success doesn’t mean these difficult discussions go away. So why?

Money always at play

Given the types of personalities we are – and having little or no depth of insight into our partners’ financial personality – we were making all the decisions. Yes, we’d have “token” conversations, but in reality we’d already made up our minds and plowed ahead toward achieving the life goals we had set (probably back in college days).

Obviously, as a friendship group we agreed to invest in getting behavioral advice and learning about our own behavior and how to manage inevitable differences as couples. A key learning from this advice was the principle that behavioral styles drive money (thereby influencing every personal, financial and business decision) and the flow of money reflects behavioral styles. Conversations will be had at home as we pluck up the courage to delve into this prickly and emotionally charged subject.

In this group, some of us were starting to open our eyes as we looked into the broader family dynamics we had each come from – whether it was a controlling grandparent or a riches-to-rags situation. Or a divorce because a parent was a spender. There is even the opposite phenomenon where friction is caused because both parents are hoarders, denying the family opportunities. In the end, we could all see how money was always at play, positively and negatively driving every relationship dynamic.

Invest in relationships

But then we moved onto our businesses. Again, we realized that our focus was on success, achieving results and in many cases we’d each delegated “relationships” to others in our businesses.

I have a very astute personal assistant and was reminded of a remark she made some time ago after I’d needed to admonish one of my key executives. She said, “do I need to mop up any blood after you?”

As I shared this thought with the group, we each agreed that we needed to review, invest in and better manage our relationships. Our future success or failure could depend on how we handled them. Even in business settings it became apparent that in different ways the energy of money was a motivational player and therefore impacting workplace relationships. Even if people come to work for other reasons than making money, money still plays its hand.

Managing relationships, whether personal or business, must begin with understanding our own personality and character. Strong relationships, I firmly believe, come from: A deep understanding and self-awareness of our own character, EQ (emotional intelligence), decision-making style and pressure-point hot spots. In other words, what are our own flash points and what or who pushes them?

Finding common touchpoints

Thinking of our work colleagues, we all agreed that we chase results. Further, we have no time for long-winded conversations. Even more frustrating are those colleagues around us who seem to take forever to make a decision.

This brought out how important understanding each person’s unique communication needs are to building relationships. Yes, if the communication needs are not being met – then somehow money will be right there driving a wedge in the relationship even if it was not the original cause. The point is, money is always there even if it is not the initiator of the problem.

With insightful behavioral knowledge it’s clear the long-winded are story tellers. They can paint a full and often complete picture of the issues. They deserve to be listened to, but maybe the learning point for us is to let them know that bullet points work better, followed by a more comprehensive written communication to support their points.

What about the slow decision maker? These folks are often gatekeepers to the safety of the business. They need time to think and absorb all information. They don’t want to make the wrong decision. In short, these people need to be listened to by fast-paced people (such as those of us in the friend group).

Again, if we understand our own innate behaviors – and the innate behaviors and decision-making styles of others – we can adjust and coach, for a win-win-win in terms of both parties’ communication and decision-making, as well as the interaction and outcomes.

The role of relationships

So, how important are relationships in your life? As you invest – in yourself and otherwise – to achieve the quality life goals you want, are you protecting the relationships that are part of the quality life you are building?

Have you considered the influence of your life direction and the core of who you are as a person as being important? And does that direction you’ve chosen align with the relationships you have, and need, to achieve the life goals you aspire to?

These are important conversations to have as we unpack what a quality life looks like. Join me, as the conversations are ongoing….

Digital key in keyhole in information security concept

Financial Advisors See Data as a Differentiator

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

With financial advisors under considerable pressure to strengthen their competitive position through an improved understanding of their clients, adding a behavioral insight tool to the client onboarding process can help advisors obtain new insights about a client’s behavior and financial personality.

In doing so, it is imperative for firms to interrogate this data that is relevant to each client. The way to use data as a differentiator is to know clients at a deeper level. Their decision-making style, spending patterns, goal-setting motivations, approach to and tolerance of risk, behavioral biases, and responses under pressure, as well as knowing each client’s likes and dislikes and life journey.

Measuring and discussing financial behavior is the first step for advisors to get to know their clients. And we already know that, for advisors to provide valuable advice, it is key that they understand clients and client goals.

Gone are the days of form filling. Advisors need in-depth, accurate information at their fingertips. Clients already understand that life requires them to be subjected to an array of technology experiences. They get it.

What many clients do not accept is poor service. For instance, feeling that they are not front and center of the relationship. Feeling they are a statistic. Feeling like the financial advice they are getting or the way they are getting it is generic or ill-matched to them.

When advisors start to deploy technology which delivers a great experience for their clients, then and only then will they gain a competitive edge and restore broken trust.

The use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is presenting a new and exciting range of possibilities to financial advisors. Essentially, APIs act as a sort of plug in, bringing a specific functionality to other, already up and running systems, so an advisor, group of advisors or small or large organization can add bells and whistles to a system without having to invent/reinvent their own.

Such an API can permit the flow of information between applications and give financial advisors the ability to, in this circumstance, easily access on a real-time basis client data, gain insights and offer innovative solutions tailored to the clients’ life plans while complying with regulatory requirements

Through the magic of APIs, “behavior tech” platforms can now be white-labeled and inserted inside organizations so that they can access scalable and easy-to-use online behavioral management solutions to know, engage and grow every client (and their advisor!).

APIs like this are not tomorrow’s solutions. They exist now, waiting only to be embraced and leveraged. This is the power – here and now – to use behavioral insights to create truly unique and robust experiences for advisors and clients. It engages clients in a way that demonstrates the degree to which advisors will go to enhance the financial planning experience – and the success they can have with and for a client.

Every financial advisor should be able to use interactive business intelligence tools to drill down into client information. In advance of every meeting or phone call the advisor should, at the click of a button, be able to deploy dashboards and personalized information to respond to client needs. This approach can and will create an experience tailored to individual clients’ needs.

Clients and advisors alike want “easy” and they’ve got it if the right API or behavior tech solution is deployed. Everything is right there on their mobile devices.

The Take-Charge Visionary

This post is part one of our series on Financial Behavioral Insights from our Financial Performance in the New Behavioral Economy White Paper. The financial behavior insights will help you gain greater self-awareness for recognizing some of your own behavioral tendencies and also those of investors.

The Take-Charge Visionary

Behavioral Insight 3, Take charge investors, investor behaviorJack Sun is a 40-year-old driven businessman who has come to meet with you to discuss his finances. You have learned that Jack has just sold one of his businesses and he now has capital to re-invest. You ask Jack the question: What will your life be like in 3, 5 or 20 years? Jack is able to immediately respond that he loves running restaurants and managing people. As the discussion goes on it becomes obvious Jack has worked out his life plan and he will not be retiring. Further, he does not mind what he invests his investment capital in so long as it makes money. He says he is interested in the overall return and not the performance of any particular asset.

Jack is an Initiator with a dominant trait of being a Take-Charge Visionary. This means he is naturally a big-picture thinker. He can see his life out a long way. Being able to more easily get the big-picture clarity does mean he will be naturally more comfortable making long term investment plans. Further, this clarity will help Jack with being able to more confidently make financial choices.

Also, when it comes to managing investments, an Initiator with Take-Charge Visionary traits will be able to more easily look at their investment portfolio in the aggregate. This will generally help them focus on the overall result and not get stuck on looking at whether each particular investment is a winner or loser.

Behavioral Insight
Naturally big-picture thinkers and decisive people will be Initiators who are Take-Charge Visionaries. They know where they are going and will have a consolidated view of their investment portfolio.

Communication key: Keep the discussion high level and provide options on recommendations.

A struggle that an Initiator will have is listening to advice from an advisor because it is about their agenda and plans. This means they could miss learning important information before making a decision and over extend themself.

An advisor who is an Initiator with Take-Charge Visionary traits will be naturally good at giving the client direction but needs to slow it down and listen to what their client has to say. This type of advisor needs to be very careful that their dominant attitudes do not overly influence the portfolio.

Learning Point:
The Initiator with a Take-Charge Visionary dominant trait will more independently set the direction of their overall planning. The advisor should aim to guide them by providing options and recommendations on investment choices. Ask the client: What goals would be the most important for you to achieve in your life? Have you built a detailed plan for your wealth creation?

To read about additional client behavioral styles, download the full Financial Performance in the New Behavioral Economy White Paper.

What are your thoughts?

Discovering Communication Styles

This post is part 3 of our 8 part series on increasing Client Engagement from our Client Relationship Performance in the New Behavioral Economy White Paper. The insights will demonstrate in practical terms how to apply predictive behavioral insights to tailor client communication and provide unique client experiences.

Behavioral Insight 3: Discovering Communication Styles

In part 1 and 2 of this series, we learned about Chris Coddington and his meetings with a client named Frank Butler. Chris was given information about the 4 Communication DNA Styles (Click here to read the previous post in this series).

Chris commented that being aware of these four Communication Styles would be very insightful and made the mystery of knowing and then adapting to different clients much more concrete. The question is, How do I do this? In some cases there is not a lot of time to get to know a prospective client, or trust may not have yet been developed to have him or her complete a formal assessment.

We explained to Chris the most accurate and reliable way of getting below the surface to understand the clients natural DNA behavior is to have the client complete a validated online behavioral assessment. People have a natural personal bias based on how they see the world, which will somewhat shape how they see the client. Further, how you see another person is driven by how you see yourself. Our self-perceptions can change from time to time depending on the life and financial events we experience. This then makes what we personally observe not very predictable and often quite inaccurate. The key point we made to Chris was that the assessment process is objective and measurable.

Our advice to Chris was to present the profile request as a way of increasing his ability to serve the client. A simple request such as: We want to recognize your communication strengths and provide you with the highest service. Can you help us do this by completing this exercise, which will highlight your natural communication strengths and enable us to serve you in a great way?

Ultimately, no matter how personally evolved you have become, there will always be personal blind spots getting in the way of how you see others. This is normal. So, the ideal scenario is to have the client complete an independently administered profile to gain reliable insights, as natural DNA Behavior is inherently predictable.

However, in the event that this cannot be done, then good personal observation of the clients type of conversation, speech tone and facial features will help. We suggested to Chris that he use the following table as a guide in observing clients. A caveat was given that the observation views in the table may not always be an accurate reflection of the clients natural behavior, as some people mask who they are on the surface.

What are your thoughts? For additional information on increasing engagement of others, visit our Communication DNA Website.

 

Four Primary Communication Styles

This post is part 2 of our 8 part series on increasing Client Engagement from our Client Relationship Performance in the New Behavioral Economy White Paper. The insights will demonstrate in practical terms how to apply predictive behavioral insights to tailor client communication and provide unique client experiences.

Behavioral Insight 2: Four Primary Communication Styles

In part 1 of this series, we learned about Chris Coddington and his first meeting with a man named Frank Butler. At the start of this first meeting Frank took over the agenda and wanted to get straight down to business to address the goals he had for the rest of his life and the way in which he wanted his money to be looked after (Click here to read Part 1 of this series)

Chris went on to say that he had been observing how different people behaved and that there seemed to be clearly different client styles with which he had to interact. He then made the comment that his normal approach of meeting with clients was that both spouses were present. In many cases, the spouses behaved and communicated very differently. Chris said this was always difficult when one was far more talkative than the other. The fact that one spouse may be more talkative did not necessarily mean the other spouse was not playing a strong role in the decision-making. However, Chris knew that an important key to his success and comfort in managing client relationships would be to learn more about the different communication styles. But he did not want to have to become a psychologist or certified behavioral specialist to do it.

We showed Chris that there are actually four primary Communication Styles, based on natural DNA Behavior, that drive client relationships, and they are very easy to learn. These Communication Styles all have specific communication strengths, learning styles, communication keys and client experience needs. The four primary Communication Styles are summarized as follows:

1.?? ?Goal-Setting Focus ? a person (like Frank Butler) who is focused on goals is interested in opportunities to expand his or her world.
2.?? ?Lifestyle Desire ? a person who is focused on lifestyle desires engagement, fun and making connections.
3.?? ?Stability Need ? a person with a need for stability is interested in safety and living in a calm environment.
4.?? ?Information Need ? a person with a need for information likes to analyze and focus on the tangible.

communication styles, know your client, communication training, client relationships, client engagement

Further, we demonstrated to Chris that in order to more consciously adapt his communication to each style of client all he needed to do was use the DNA Communication Guide below. Of course, the starting point is for Chris to know that his Communication Style is Goal-Setting Focus.

The wise advisor will be aware that in a competitive New Behavioral Economy, knowing client Communication Styles will be the key to increasing revenues and having less personal frustration from playing mind games in figuring out the client. It will then come down to the tactics that get employed to know the client. One of the biggest issues for advisors is their own personal fear to ask the clients touchy feely questions about how they wish to be communicated with, and about their life generally. From experience, clients want to be asked and appreciate it.

What are your thoughts? For additional information on increasing engagement of others, visit our Communication DNA Website.