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Hugh Massie Year End Letter: Tough Years Drive Learning & Innovation

I know countless people who have taken the challenges and tumult of 2020 as an opportunity to level-set their life and business. So, as I put pen to paper to write my end-of-year letter, I’m reminded of courage like that.

Indeed, in the face of what may well be the most difficult global challenge most of us have faced, I salute those who have the courage and self-confidence to step into 2021 with new vigor, with a willingness to build their business, and maybe even with the inclination to take a different direction and start something new.

Whatever your (perhaps renewed) focus and outlook for 2021, I commend you.

DNA Behavior coping & flourishing during COVID-19

At DNA Behavior, we never could have known that the tools that are the core of our work and purpose would become significant to so many during the pandemic. A substantial number of businesses worked with us as they adapted to remote work. We helped them build a greater connection with their employees and their clients, which is vital to successful remote relationships.

These businesses gained access to scientifically based tools that enable them to manage the behavioral and communication issues these groups face as a consequence of remote work.

And, our Managing Director, Leon Morales (Initiator), and our Chief Learning Officer, Nikki Evans (Initiator), hosted a series of free webinars to help teams adjust to remote work and address best practices for remote team leadership. In this series we addressed common challenges and ways to handle miscommunications and uncertainties that arise. This series is available online for continued reference.

Our CTO, Ryan Scott (Reflective Thinker), donated his time to work with leaders at the University of Colorado Boulder. Ryan helped educate select leaders on how to move their teams to remote work, on behavioral attributes to adapt to this new work regime, and on accountability tools he uses while managing the DNA tech team.

Our CIL, Carol Pocklington (Facilitator), donated her time to speak with women in leadership who are required to work from home while also home-schooling children and running their businesses. They were keen to understand how to communicate with staff via social media or conferencing platforms, what previously unseen behaviors might surface and how best to juggle this tumultuous time.

Responding to the Digital Mandate

More than ever the global pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to become behaviorally smarter by providing digital solutions to meet the growing customized needs of employees and clients.

Fortunately, over the past two years we have enhanced our API capability, enabling a wide array of business types and sizes to leverage 500+ behavioral insights (covering virtually every human habit) via this “plug in.” The DNA API has added a significant human element to data and demographic information with behavioral details on the way a person communicates, invests, works and lives.

For example, financial advisors are now able to have a greater real-time understanding of their investors’ reactions to market shifts and be prompted to proactively engage so they are guided through these challenging times.

On the business operations side, the DNA API enables leaders to get real-time behavioral insights to better understand how people cope with online/remote working and how to motivate them based on their individual personalities.

A growing number of established and start-up businesses have embraced the idea of building behavioral insights directly into their tech platforms. This enables them to deliver enhanced engagement, productivity and pin-pointed solutions for each person/interaction. (Without jettisoning the tech they already have, as DNA’s API provides a behavioral plug-in for existing systems and platforms.)

Businesses also are growing as they have applied our tools and strategized new ways of working, investing, building business and staying connected with one another. Without this intersection of technology and behavior, none of this could have been done so easily and cost effectively – and at such a scale – for so many different organizations.

Building the Behavioral Ecosystem

Our development did not stop with the DNA API. In October, we announced the launch of the next generation behavior tech stack platform to facilitate API integration and a marketplace for our partners to sell their unique DNA Behavior-powered offerings around the world: The Helix Gateway Behavioral Network.

We were determined to build on the increased DNA API-enabled partnerships that had developed during this difficult year. The goal of the gateway is to connect partners or distributors with all of the resources needed to build, develop and scale behavior-enabled businesses which offer unique solutions that can deliver customized experiences. We’re onboarding distributors who facilitate and speed the work of organizations “plugging in” DNA’s “behavioral chip” to existing software and systems and new apps.

To accelerate the growth of this behavioral ecosystem – which, in turn, benefits all users – we recently completed a wholesale integration with Zapier, providing immediate access to over 2500 technology businesses. Zapier is the best solution that connects apps and automates workflows, making connectivity easy for our busy global clients.

When you add on top industry partners and distributors – such as Schwab, Salesforce, Wired to Perform, Brilliant fit, ARQ, Hadeda, Finwello and the like – the tech pathway to networking is simple and uncomplicated, ready to onboard the next tranche of digitally focused businesses into our behaviorally driven ecosystem.

Rapid change presents challenges for our clients and business partners. And, while we have had the opportunity to rapidly respond to the tech needs of our clients, we recognize that this transformation should always include people and relationships.

Every High-Performer Needs a Coach

In this difficult season we also recognized that powerful and private coaching customized to the individual leader is needed now more than ever, so we set up a DNA Coach Network.

Our behavioral management solutions, apps and tools have helped thousands of leaders, coaches, financial advisors, families and individuals achieve greater self-awareness and EQ. And, now – with the DNA Coach Network – even more people the world over can tap into these solutions and expertise.

 After all, behind every successful person is a coach, sounding board or team of advisors.

Onward into 2021!

As a serial entrepreneur, former wealth manager and “recovering CPA,” I recommend focusing on the TIPS principle because being able to clearly define Talent, Identity, Purpose and Significance (TIPS) sidelines frustration.

Individuals may well have a life vision but don’t have the confidence to get there without a coach. Without such guidance and reflection, they may lose focus to realize their vision.

A behavioral coach quickly identifies performance derailers. These can be natural DNA behavior-driven struggles, which are often strengths…but overplayed.

Beyond figuring out your TIPS, a behavioral coach also can identify behavioral blind spots that eventually become weaknesses. Very often this aspect of coaching can help determine how, where and why relationships have soured. This insight is critical for anyone building a new business or looking to rescue one that has fallen into a difficult place.

Through behavioral coaching, move forward with self-awareness, which (again) involves being conscious of different aspects of self, including traits, behaviors, feelings and EQ. With scientifically validated behavioral discovery, self-awareness can begin.

So, as we head into 2021, I wish you health, happiness and success as you stay connected to your TIPS. By doing so you will maximize your potential and mitigate conflicts that de-rail “good,” including your personal and business relationships.

Setting your annual intentionality

I look forward to continuing our journey together – or taking that first step if you’re just getting started with us. For now, I’ll leave you with this quote for reflection.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

What quote best frames the year you have planned for yourself or your organization? Drop me a line telling me about it: hugh.massie@dnabehavior.com

Stop Trying to Delight Your Investors

In the world of financial advice, many clients think they know themselves and their money better than they do and certainly better than the advisor does. How does this thought impact the role of a financial advisor? If you know nothing about behaviors then clients with this ‘know it all’ attitude will be difficult to advise and manage.

Most successful financial advisors invest in understanding client behaviors. They ensure they have the insight and tools to be able to understand how people think, make decisions, and want to be communicated with. As a first step getting to understand how to speak with clients is important. DNA Behavior Discovery provides in-depth insight into the way people communicate and how they wish to be spoken to.

It takes just a few minutes to complete a discovery. The outcomes prepare the way to start the advisor/client conversation.

Why Getting to The Root of Behaviors Is Key to Addressing Them Head-On?

So, what to do? One important key is to know yourself. There is little point trying to manage a tricky client if you allow them to push your behavioral buttons.

So, first step, get to know your own financial personality and communication style. Remember, as an advisor, there will be many conversations with clients where you need to understand the importance of managing the behavioral differences between you and your client and how to navigate any bias either you or your client might have. Comprehensive self-knowledge will inform ways to flex in order to keep the conversation going.

The wide-ranging DNA Behavior Natural Discovery process takes just 10 minutes to complete, can be delivered in real-time to any of your devices, and delivers 200 insights, 64 behavioral factors leading to 1 unique style (your client).

Successful financial advisory practices don’t get involved with a ‘one size fits all approach’. They know the importance of delivering accurate advice that reflects the needs of the individual. To satisfy the ‘know your clients rule’ advisors must be able to manage the behaviors of their clients on an individual basis.

The Behaviorally Smart Organization

As businesses emerge from the global pandemic self-isolation/remote working season, many will be looking at ways to increase their business flow and maintain their existing clients. Advisors will have relied solely on online platforms to stay connected. Clients who might not have previously considered working with their advisor using online tools could well be open to this new approach. Organizations wishing to demonstrate their understanding of the behaviors of their clients will be looking to data collection, online platforms, social media, and other tools to collaborate with their clients, build their business and improve their service offerings. One such way is to use DNA Behavior to work with your entire organization to match advisors to clients. What better service offering can there be than one that has such a deep understanding of their advisors and clients’ financial and communication personalities and is able to deliver a customized behaviorally smart matching approach to their advisory business?

Moving the Needle to Build Advisor/Client Relationships

DNA Behavior will work with your entire organization NOW to prepare you to build an enhanced service offering post coronavirus. It’s time to take a fresh look at how this virtual working has offered solutions to improve service offerings. Going back to the same old same old just won’t cut it. Clients want something different as do advisors. Now’s the time to take a deep dive into understanding the personalities of the people that make up your business. Whether an advisor or client. Whether receptionist, the board, or the C suite, we will set you up to face the ‘new world’ by using our extensive tools to improve your bottom line.

BeFi API is A Must for Broker-Dealers

A robust Behavioral Finance platform will enable Broker-Dealers to meet the fast-growing need for mega-customization. Such a platform will not only provide insights into how clients invest but also reveal habits to how Broker-Dealer employees and investors spend, set goals, communicate, work, live, and make decisions. These insights become transformative when powering core Broker-Dealer workflows such as:

• Advisor-client matching programs (which advisor is suited for which client)

• Optimizing marketing spend (who wants steak dinners vs. Super Bowl tickets)

• Sending customized behavioral driven marketing content to clients

• Developing customized onboarding playbooks

• Arming advisors with the perfect behaviorally generated scripts to deliver at the right time

• Predicting fearful and opportunistic clients on a real-time basis with Market Mood™

To learn more, download our E-Book.

Don’t Reinvent Tech; Add Behavioral Power

– First Published on Nasdaq –

People are complicated. Some tell you their life story in the first few minutes. Others take time – and deep questioning – to reveal even the smallest details.

Financial advisors know that, around the emotional subject of money, gaining insight into clients’ financial personality is hard. But it doesn’t need to be. No matter how complicated – and different – each person is.

Knowing your clients at a deeper level and having real-time access to innate client behaviors and decision-making inclinations puts advisors in a powerful stance. Ready to deliver top-flight service – and results.

How will a client react to market movements? What are their biases? How do they consider and deal with risk? And what are their spending habits? Clients can tell you about themselves, and you can subjectively observe, but what if you had validated, objective client data built into systems on which you rely?

You’ve got tech; add #behaviortech

The solution is part of the move toward greater use of behavioral science. Financial advisors (and their clients) are coming to the realization that bona fide behavioral insights improve the effectiveness of financial advice – communication, service quality and outcomes.

Layering a behavioral data-gathering addition into your existing tech stack is easier than you may think. Hint: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Even if you don’t know what an API is, for instance, your IT people do. Imagine: A plug-in that adds behavioral info to the tech you already have.

This addition makes it possible for financial advisors to identify, engage and deliver client solutions in real time, leveraging data that informs financial planning from end to end. A behavioral tech stack combines customer engagement technology and behavioral insight data to inform client engagement. It enables the knowing-me-knowing-you element that creates trust from openness and transparency.

Plugging in personality

Client data collected through a quick, simple behavioral discovery informs the advisory process in significant ways:

  • Defining financial personality.
  • Advisor/client matching.
  • Individual client financial journey needs.
  • Quality life goal analytics.
  • Real-time access to client behavior data.
  • Client engagement via more effective communication.
  • Insights to inform marketing.
  • Eliminates information silos between client support teams.

Every financial advisor should have access to interactive business intelligence tools. And that includes but goes far beyond client EQ, to include a full range of behavioral insights. (In some cases, as many as 500-plus such insights.) That’s the power of modifying your tech stack to include the behavior module.

Be(havior) on the cutting edge

Imagine: In advance of every client meeting, whether face to face, on social media, conferencing platforms or the phone, an advisor could, at the click of a button, be able to deploy dashboards and personalized information to respond to specific client wants and needs. (Even wants and needs they may not know they have or cannot verbalize; again, you’ll be tapping into innate behavioral info.)

Best: The behavioral tech stack is so integrated into other advisor systems and platforms that client info and prompts appear as needed, with the advisor not even having to push that proverbial button. As an example, a pop-up might remind you the client you’re about to meet with has difficultly following set procedures and offers a checklist of ways you can simplify processes to ensure they stay on track.

This approach creates an experience tailored to individual client needs. Moreover, it’s the way of the future.

How to Spend $20 million in 3 Years

Whether you are leading an innovative tech company or managing the digital division of an organization, there is one dilemma that you surely have come across at least once: when needing a software solution, should you invest in a market-ready product or should you build it yourself using your IT resources? This is also equally true when it comes to behavioral science work. Should companies seek out thoroughly developed software solutions by subject matter experts? Or should they build their own?  

The dilemma you, along-side numerous organizations around the world are faced with is also known as Build vs Buy.

Identifying the Need

As you weigh in on the decision of buying a software solution vs building it, you need to start by assessing your need, identifying the issue you are trying to address, and do an inventory of your resources. Opting for “Build” or “Buy” can only make sense if it is a well thought out decision that takes into consideration all variables involved.

What is the problem you are seeking a software solution for? What purpose does it have? Is it meant to improve your business process, or optimize your operations? Does your in-house IT team have the knowledge and the capabilities of building such a solution? Do you even have IT resources, to begin with? If not, can your company afford to outsource such task?

These are all the questions you need to ask yourself when faced with the Build vs Buy dilemma.

Weighing Your Options

Opting for Build or Buy can only make sense if it is a well thought out decision that takes into consideration all variables involved. What is the problem you are seeking a software solution for? What purpose does it have? Is it meant to improve your business process, or optimize your operations? Does your in-house IT team have the knowledge and the capabilities of building such a solution? Do you even have IT resources, to begin with? If not, can your company afford to outsource such task?

From a behavioral tools perspective, the ramifications of building a solution from scratch are often costly. There are so many companies that have created new FinTech, HRTech, and MarketingTech behavioral solutions, and have failed after the first year. With a behavioral tool, you are only as good as the insights you provide. Generating accurate insights, quickly, and reliably takes a lot of research, finetuning, and time. Companies who do not operate in this field, are typically ill-equipped and unable to access the resources in order to create solutions from scratch.

Maintenance and Support

It is undeniable that having an IT department in your company is a substantial asset when it comes to running your operations smoothly. Having an on-call team that can proactively maintain your software solutions and provides unlimited support is the main appeal in investing in IT resources, to begin with. When opting for building your own software, your in-house IT team has full control over the process and is able to provide unlimited support. Whereas when you buy a market-ready product, your software vendor may not have as much of a proactive maintenance team, and it might take longer to have your support ticket processed. However, the perks of buying a software solution reside in the market reach of the vendor that grows exponentially which entices him to use his client’s feedback to develop his software, anticipate any bugs that may occur, and continuously expand his product features. Your IT team, however, unless an issue has risen they may not be as proactive in developing your software solution.

Return on Investment

No matter what industry you operate in, the concept of ROI is pretty straightforward and applicable to all: as an organization, you strive to generate high returns on your investment. This means that ROI is not only a metric to evaluate the success of your business decisions, it also dictates funding and resource allocation. That is a key element to take into consideration when faced with the Build vs Buy dilemma. Let’s look at it this way: if a firm needed an accounting software, they would rarely build their own. They would simply license software from Oracle, Quickbooks, or any of the other providers who have solutions, off the shelf. The truth of the matter is, companies such as Oracle have put thousands (millions?) of hours and have recruited top-notch experts to build their platform. To put things even more into perspective, our very own DNA Behavior solutions are available for as little as $75 per month but we have invested hundreds of man-years developing the insights with PhDs and experts from high-ranking government, private sector, and military positions. For you to replicate one of our products, it will cost your company $20 Million over 3 years.

Could your company commit to such investment? Does your ROI justify and support such expense? At this point, if you are still hesitant or unsure about which direction to go and whether you should Build or Buy, looking at it from your ROI perspective should tip the balance. 

VERDICT: Build

Did you know that even the most brilliant and resourceful tech companies around the world purchase software solutions from other vendors? That’s right, when needing a software solution for business processing or operation structure, they may have the capabilities and resources to build them, but their resources are much better invested in their field of expertise rather than gaging a foreign technology landscape that they know nothing about. So why would you try to build your own behavioral software where companies such as DNA Behavior exist? We have spent the past 19 years generating 575 behavioral insights that have been tested, improved, and are ready to use. You can now leverage our Financial and Business DNA retail packages as well as our Financial DNA API, with the possibility of co-branding or white labeling our solutions. The fact of the matter is, your resources are better used to help your company grow rather than investing in building a software solution you lack expertise in. 

If you’re still not sure, schedule your 15 min consultation with Leon Morales, our Managing Director to further discuss our products and solutions.

Scheduled System Maintenance: October 5th

Who this impacts:

Users of the new Financial DNA investor experience and the DNA API

What is happening:

From time to time, our hosting provider, Microsoft Azure requires DNA to update systems to maintain uptime, scalability, and security best practices. Microsoft Azure has recommended that we restart our systems to apply new settings available.

Most users of the DNA systems will not be impacted during this temporary maintenance window. During this time, features hosted on dnabehavior.biz will remain available. New discoveries and the use of the DNA Admin System will not be affected. Only users of the DNA API and the new Financial DNA investor experience will be impacted.

When it’s happening:

Scheduled maintenance window planned for October 5th between 1:00 am, and 6:00 am ET.

Actions to take if this affects you:

If your firm leverages the DNA API or the investor.dnabehavior.com discovery process, new discoveries and new requests for insights will not be available. Following this release at 6:00 am ET, all systems will once again be available.

For the DNA API, it is suggested that you make POST and GET calls outside of this window.

For users of the Financial DNA investor experience, if you typically have investor completing discoveries between 1:00 am, and 6:00 am ET the discovery process may be unavailable. We suggest that you let your clients know to complete the discovery outside of this window or to leverage self-registration links pointing to dnabehavior.biz (rather than investor.dnabehavior.com).