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kim curtis identity interview

Identity Conversation with Hugh – Facilitator of Difficult Life Conversations

Have you ever wondered why smart people make bad investment mistakes? Or how can you work towards reaching financial independence?

In this identity interview, Hugh sits down with Kim Curtis. She is a personal finance expert, author of “Money Secrets” and Founder and CEO of The Wealth Legacy Institute, Inc.

With her rich background in negotiation and mediation, as well as legal and extensive financial education, she offers successful individuals and families a multi-disciplined approach to wealth management, investment management, and family dynamics.

Kim Curtis has been using our Wealth Mentoring Package. With 93.6% wealth management being about behavioral management, Kim has succeeded in leveraging the power of behavioral insights to facilitate life conversations with her clients. If you’re interested to learn more, start our 14-day free trial and see for yourself.

Take Fresh Look at Alignment of Career and Life Purpose

– First Published on Nasdaq –

Having a purpose in life that lines up with a chosen career is what many strive for and rarely achieve. Why is that?

Maybe it’s as simple as having allowed yourself to follow the career expectations of others, only to later find life experiences, wisdom, or an event (like a pandemic!) exposes cracks in the alignment between life purpose and chosen profession.

For many, the past year has caused them to take a hard look at their life purpose and ask the questions:

  • Why am I building wealth?
  • Is this my chosen career?
  • Why am I endeavoring to achieve the next promotion?
  • Why am I allowing life to hijack deeply held life goals and purpose?

Learning from the past

As I look back on my own journey, I often joke, saying I am a “reformed CPA,” but I seriously am. Having initially had a successful career as a chartered accountant in Sydney, Singapore and Thailand, and later in the financial services industry (running my own wealth management business), I always knew my career was more than about me conforming to a way of life.

That is, conforming to the script of have a good job, buy a house, invest and increase wealth. I think you get my point. But in reality, I always recognized something was missing.

My talents made me successful in my chosen careers but did not fulfill my passion, vision and values which I wanted to define and articulate in my life purpose.

I can’t say I was overly navel-gazing or looking for meaning in life; it was simply a deep belief that something more was going to be my career and purpose. The trouble was I didn’t know what.

Getting back to basics

I began to realize that if I wanted to discover my TIPS (talent, identity, purpose and significance) and get my career and life purpose aligned, I would have to do something about it myself. Hence the birth of DNA Behavior.

I recognized that using a behaviorally smart scientifically based discovery system I would be able to uncover areas of my TIPS that were not being recognized or used in my career – or toward my life purpose.

So, some 20+ years ago I founded the DNA Behavior business. It became clear to me that everyone should know and be able to share their unique “DNA style” with family, advisors, leaders, employees and clients. I knew that if everyone could share their unique style, the world would be a better place and careers would be chosen that lined up with living a quality life and inherent passions.

What I discovered and have spent the intervening years pursuing: My purpose and priorities lay in helping people the world over become more self-empowered through greater self-awareness. What I found is that I have a knack for discovering and making practical, unique behavioral insights, particularly in the still-new, still-underutilized field of behavioral finance. This is a much stronger calling for me than providing accounting and financial services, investments, and managing real estate.

The highly validated, scientifically based, structured approach to understanding behavioral insights for identifying talents, career paths and life purpose helped me discover my passion and now does the same for millions of people globally.

There is of course an irony – and a win-win – to the fact that my personal discovery and pursuit of that will enable the same for others. Of this I am doubly grateful.

And this is not a sales pitch; rather, it’s sharing an experience about discovering life purpose and making a career from that discovery.

Sometimes life intercedes

During the past year I have spent socially distant or remote time with countless people who are questioning many aspects of their lives. Now many are reviewing their career. Not because they have lost their job, but because they’ve had time to work from home with their family and have begun to “taste” a quality life.

They want to do life differently. They want to use technology to be able to have choices about where and when they work. Even more have commented on how successful conversations have become with their advisors as many financial advisors are themselves questioning their quality life.

One common theme in these conversations: It seems creating significant wealth is no longer their “true north,” not because they don’t want wealth but because they genuinely cannot find its purpose in their lives.

Wealth is great, but not at the sacrifice of life purpose. Why not have both?

Know yourself, then help clients do same

Discovering a life purpose that becomes a satisfying career needs to follow a well-defined approach that begins, not necessarily with qualifications, but with knowing self (talents, strengths and struggles). Focusing on those factors that reveal inherent behavior is crucial before setting personal life goals that enable you to take control of life in ways that optimize performance and happiness.

This approach to building a career based on life purpose is a strategy you can take to your clients as part of discussing financial planning and investment strategies, because many are searching for purpose and meaning. Even better if you lead the discussion with how you have rediscovered yourself, re-examined your goals and re-aligned key life facets like purpose and direction.

Your Firm Isn’t Ready for ESG – Prove Me Wrong

For years, the DNA team has been writing about how the world is moving to a place where everything is hyper-personalized for every customer in every interaction. Lately, firms have been approaching us for the most personalized investment service we have seen, ESG investing. Are we finally here? Is everything personalized yet? I think not.

Firstly, I love the personalized approach to ESG investing. The ability to customize services at scale and deliver unique investment experiences to each client will be beautiful. However, in my opinion, FIs are starting to segment clients in the wrong way. Most firms are focused on segmenting clients into ESG buckets before they really know them.

Does your firm know how each of your clients communicates? Make decisions? Learns? Gives? Evaluate investment performance? If you are relying on your advice team to know and remember each unique client, good luck. Better luck if you have high turnover or there are poor notes in your CRM.

Working in behavioral science for the last decade, I know the data demonstrates that each person is unique (seriously, there are 4 trillion possible combinations in Financial DNA). And from being a millennial, I know that each of my peers wants to be treated as they are unique. Is your firm really ready for this? Does your firm really have the ability to treat each person as unique?

A 3-Dimensional challenge for your firm, are you ready?

ESG investing adds a 3rd dimension to the investing picture. While we currently operate on 2 dimensions, most firms only do 1 of those well. The 3 dimensions: First, there is the obvious investing dimension (dealing with the performance and investment vehicles themselves)… most firms do this well. Second, there’s a human dimension (dealing with the market impulses of clients, building engagement with the FI or advisor, addressing client communication needs, and decision-making habits)… most firms do this poorly. Now, firms are adding this ESG investing dimension (layering on the environmental, social, and often times political values and beliefs to their investments.

I will explain this further with my two friends, Kelly and Mike.

Dimension 1: Investments
From an investment picture, Kelly and Mike bring equal parts to the table but have little investing experience, except their 401ks. Kelly recently had a windfall from her inheritance and Mike cashed out equity from the IPO at his company. Both plan to work until their mid-60s, so they have about 25 years left to generate wealth.

Dimension 2: The human dimension

Californian, born and raised. Kelly’s stickers on her Prius could tell anyone what she believes in and the causes she supports. You better believe she composts everything and even carbon offsets her vacations. Sound like someone you’d hang out with? Well, Kelly and I have many things in common, one of which is we are both cautious. As a third-party to Kelly, I see this everywhere. Her caution in her career, her clothes, and even in her 2011 car. She accounts for every dollar she earns and is perfectly content with living in her modest 2 bedroom, single-family home with Mike for the long haul.

As luck would have it, opposites attracted Kelly to her husband, Mike. While Mike and Kelly share many views on life, their values, and their love for the environment, they couldn’t be any more different from a behavioral perspective. Mike loves his Tesla, but in contrast to Kelly, primarily because of the 0-60 speed. Mike works in SAAS sales, not for the love for tech, but for the challenge. Mike seems to be in his prime at the end of the quarter where he is below his quota and the pressure is on. Mike loves taking risks for the reward.

Working at DNA, all of us get our own friends and family accounts, and believe me, they get used! Like all of my friends, I forced Kelly and Mike to take their Financial DNA discovery. Kelly is an Adapter, 15/100 risk profile, and a Group 2 “Ultra-Conservative” investor. Mike is an Influencer, 87/100 risk profile, and a Group 7- “Aggressive” investor.

Dimension 3: The ESG Dimension

Kelly and Mike both have a love for the environment. Kelly more so than Mike, but nonetheless, they have both agreed to do everything physically and financially possible in order to make a positive impact on climate change. From a financial perspective, can your firm manage this complex, 3-dimensional ESG scenario? The reality is, Kelly would be best suited to invest in stable (but eco-friendly) investments while Mike will be constantly benchmarking their portfolio against the S&P 500, looking for a win. How would you manage this situation?

From my behavioral finance lens, many firms are not ready to deal with the complexities of this third dimension, because they haven’t mastered the human element yet. Firms are trying to tackle a one-size-fits-most approach with ESG. The reality is that all clients are different, but most firms lack the behavioral finance data to tell them apart.

Prove me wrong. I’d love to hear how you would behaviorally manage Kelly and Mike and deliver them an ESG portfolio.

Do Investors See Value in Wealth Management? They should, and Here’s Why

Do Investors See Value in Wealth Management? They should, and Here’s Why 

The 2020 financial climate may have been the most tumultuous of its decade. However, one thing is sure, demand for wealth management continues to grow. Today’s investors are looking for a comprehensive approach from financial institutions that would guide them forward in this new normal.

The truth is, even in the middle of this pandemic-induced uncertainty and market volatility, executive wealth management decisions were still being made. If you believe that your investors may not see value in wealth management, here’s why they should.

Financial Institution Can Adopt the Model That Fits 

While you might think that the biggest struggle is to have a breakthrough with investors, and enrolling them in your financial planning systems, the real question is where do you take it from there? 

As a financial institution, you have the ability to design your systems and incorporate wealth management components into your practice. Which makes more sense for your investors as they tend to seek out a more holistic approach. 

You see, investors are looking to discuss their entire financial vision with their advisors. Their short term goal is obviously to make smart decisions and see a substantial return on their investment. Their ultimate goal however is none other than prosperity and financial wellness. 

Investors Are Looking for a Financial Wellness Roadmap 

The financial bigger picture has never been more relevant. The pandemic-induced market uncertainty has shaken investors’ confidence in their portfolios and challenged all their strategies. The type of financial institutions they are looking to work with are those able to offer them some clarity and insight into their financial wellness roadmap.

Whilst the unpredictability of the stock market can challenge that concept, it’s all about the relationship your advisors foster with their clients. Here at DNA Behavior we believe that advisors should constantly engage their investors in discussions relevant to them, or risk losing them. 

Wealth Management also Means Behavior Management

You might be asking yourself is it our role to help investors get the maximum profit? Or to manage their behavior?

We believe that wealth management and financial planning risks are at the sum of human behavior (investors and advisors) and market risks. Our whole Financial DNA program for investors and advisors has been predicated on this. Whilst the market itself cannot be managed by an investor, their reaction to it can be. Which comes back to human behavior management. 

75% or more of your role is to save investors from themselves by helping manage their behavior. This involves educating, guiding, coaching and empowering them. What we call “Wealth Mentoring”. 

By adopting this approach you will be helping your investors obtain superior returns which far outweigh any level of fees they are being charged. The reality is that the key to successful investment is managing behavior. Wealth mentoring has the ability of transforming the investor-experience and enhance value.

Recognize, Break Away From Herd Mentality

– First Published on Nasdaq –

one of the challenges financial advisors face is the tendency for their clients to come to them already influenced by “group” think or herd mentality.

“Everybody is buying XYZ; I need to get in on this!”.

“No one is staying in International Doodads. The guys on my Pickle Ball team say I should get out of that and lean into derivatives.”

Clients know the importance of seeking advice from qualified financial industry professionals yet can make life-changing decisions based on a night out with friends or the sensational advice of a grandiloquent radio host.

And, yes, sometimes otherwise smart investors are persuaded by the comfort of a crowd. After all, the advice may come via a relationship through whom they get trusted advice on many other areas of their lives. Or from someone seen as successful…so the advice must be worth following, right?

Coming out of a divisive election year, herd mentality is at the forefront, beyond just the financial sector. So, we have it in perspective; it just should not be part of your investment strategy.

Core insights, core advice

Clear thinking requires financial professionals to be able to understand where enthusiasm for an investment or disinvestment is coming from and how to respond to a client’s bias. An advisor must help that client pivot their thinking in a positive and safer way, visualizing the situation from a different perspective. This, in fact, is a core reason for having a financial advisor or coach.

So how can a financial professional do this? Do they know bias can be revealed?

Financial advisors who are serious about understanding the client behavior invest in a behavioral component for their existing tech stack. The benefit: Revealing a depth and breadth of insight into their clients.

Behavioral insights also alert advisors to those clients who react in the moment and revert to long-held beliefs that often hurt their returns. This could be panicking and selling or excitedly panicking and doubling down on exactly the wrong investment.

Mining for insights

We all know the importance for advisors and clients to separate emotions from investing. But, again, how to actually do that? The trick is learning enough about inherent biases to be able to manage them.

Without that information folded into their workflow, advisors may find themselves locked in emotional exchanges with their clients. Or at least unable to move a client off a damaging commitment to the wrong vision or ill-informed advice.

Behaviorally smart advisors understand that everyone reacts differently to turbulent markets. Having behavior tech insights into a client, they can coach and educate their clients – and do so in ways tailored to each client – to move beyond herd mentality.

Using a behaviorally smart financial discovery, an advisor will know of client biases from the get-go. They will know which clients are likely to field bad advice and take it to heart. Best, they’ll be well-prepared to keep clients from jumping on the latest bandwagon.

The client also would be the beneficiary of these insights, so they can “check themselves before they wreck themselves,” as my mentor, Hugh Massie, likes to say. So, don’t think of behavioral insights as something the advisor holds close; there are insights about the advisor and about the client and all should be shared with each.

Breaking away from the pack

Herd mentality is a dangerous bias. And there is a clear responsibility for financial advisors to ensure they provide clients with highly individualized guidance.

If they are indeed armed with behavioral insights – on themselves and, especially, on their clients – they can even provide proactive guidance when client information might not be congruent with other, external perspectives. 

When an individual and their advisor are equipped with quantifiable insights, they can recognize and break free from the herd. After all, investing is not a group sport.

How Similar Are Our Behavioral Styles to Our Dogs’?

According to a research conducted at Michigan State University, dogs tend to take on the same personality traits and behavioral tendencies as their owners. The study also revealed that dogs are just like humans in terms of cognitive development and that their personalities are shaped over time.
These shifts in personality traits can even predict future behaviors that may surface in our dogs. While it is true that age, breed, and gender play a huge role in the shaping of their personalities and behavioral tendencies, the influence that we dog owners have plays a major role.

Here at DNA Behavior, we take it to heart to involve our 4 legged friends in everything we do and make them feel loved and appreciated, especially during these unprecedented times where we have been working mostly from home spending more time with our dogs than ever before.

While some may already worry about the potential separation anxiety the end of the WFH era might induce to our dogs, we at DNA Behavior decided to look a little bit more into it and see if we can uncover similarities between our very own DNA styles and our dogs’. After all, how ideal would it be to be able to understand your dog’s personality, interpret their behavior, and even predict how they may react to certain things.

Meet Our Paw-tastic Team

Gracie is a 6 months-year-old female Bernedoodle, which is a cross of a Poodle and Bernese mountain dog. She is a very outgoing and friendly dog who craves attention but goes with the flow at the very same time. She is extremely entertaining and would be fantastic at networking during conferences and various events. In general, Bernedoodles tend to be highly intelligent, hardworking, very loyal, and just a bit goofy. Based on our expertise, Gracie’s DNA Style is Engager, which fits the description perfectly!

Gracie is a member of Hugh Massie’s family, who is our CEO and Behavioral Strategist. Hugh is an Initiator. Initiators are strong-minded, decisive, and goal-driven individuals who are typically fast-paced and rational. Some personality traits that Hugh and Gracie have in common are that they are both optimistic and dynamic in their way of doing things. As Gracie grows older and her personality unravels, we are eager to see how much of Hugh’s DNA Style characteristics might influence her own!

Skylar is a female Shiba Inu with an eagerness to learn and an undeniable sense of style. She can be extroverted as dogs can be but also needs her alone time to charge. Her unique personality shows especially when she meets other dogs. While she enjoys it a great deal, she would ignore them and move on if they do not engage back. She is an undeniable leader, not a follower, and perfectly capable of entertaining herself if she needs exercise.   

By nature, Shiba Inu dogs are known to be independent, energetic, and exceptionally smart, and based on our expertise, Skylar’s DNA Style is Stylish Thinker.

Skylar is a member of Ryan Scott’s family, who is our CTO, Digital Experience Innovator. Ryan is a Reflective Thinker. He is a serious, focused, and analytical individual who values accuracy and precision in everything he does. The similarities between Ryan and Skylar’s unique styles are that they’re both creative and innovative. However, Ryan’s rational and thought-out approach does enable him to navigate Skylar’s strong personality without any issues. (Did somebody say stubborn?)  

Ari is a 10-year-old male English Setter. He is a very friendly, patient, and playful dog, but very sensitive and feelings oriented. While he likes interacting with his surroundings, he appreciates his own quiet time. English Setters are known to be some of the most friendly and gentle dogs. They are extremely loyal and crave affection. Based on our expertise, Ari’s DNA Style is Relationship Builder, which couldn’t be more accurate. He welcomes interactions with other people and other dogs, but is independent enough that he does not need to be constantly entertained. While Ari and Gracie are both part of Hugh’s family, they couldn’t be more different, and so are their interactions with Hugh who is an Initiator. We would go to the extent of saying that they are polar opposites, but we sure are eager to see how Ari’s personality traits develop over time.

For all our dog lovers out there, remember, dogs are complex creatures that share a unique bond with their owners. Understanding their behavioral traits starts by understanding your own.

To learn more about DNA Behavior and how our insights can help you capitalize on your strengths and manage your struggles, start our free trial. Don’t take our word for it, try it for yourself.