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Behavioral Science

Behavioral Science Teams Increasingly Important to Financial Services

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

Behavioral sciences teams can influence business strategy, decision-making and service offerings through deep insight into human behavior. Such a teams ability to understand behaviors helps mitigate failure and decrease industry waste.

The more innovative financial services companies are starting to appoint behavioral teams. They understand the power of applying behavioral science to improve customer and employee behavior.

Why add the behavioral facet?

Real-world financial decisions are complex. Investors look to advisors to inform their decisions. They want to make the most of their money to achieve goals and build for their future.

But how can each party build trust sufficient to share life goals? And the other provide corresponding advice that delivers those goals? How can customers be sure their finances are being managed within a culture of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness?

Never has there been a greater need for the financial services industry to prove it can be trusted.

What will be revealed…

Using behavioral science to identify and weed out misconduct is just one aspect, though it may be the most familiar. Being able to better understand people to inform the culture of the business is another side of behavioral science, and a fundamental aspect of building trust.

But the big one – and the one that will build and sustain business – is being able to use behavioral science to better understand customer behavior and to advise them how to make better decisions. Relying on big data itself is not enough. Big data is stronger when paired with little data, if you will; that is, behavioral insights and overlays that are sourced from personality discovery.

Interventions to foster better customer decisions have been around for a long time; behavioral science has opened our eyes to human differences and complexities.

Science, not soft

The application of this approach to the advisor-client relationship is new. The market now offers validated, scientific profiling systems that will identify not just decision making, but also how individuals react under pressure. This information is delivered to the advisor in real time at their fingertips.

Building a trusting and trusted culture based on financial behavior to help clients make better financial decisions is no longer a nice-to-have feature. Its becoming a competitive edge, if not a must-have.

Cost justified

Appointing a behavioral sciences team to work with leadership to shape culture and help advisors work more effectively with clients impacts the bottom line. Using the team in the hiring process and in the workplace sets the trust compass in the right direction.

Applying a behavioral data-gathering discovery places deep insight into the behavioral science teams hands. They can then respond to different demands across the business. From the behavior of the board to the frontline, they can advise and educate on how to understand and leverage (or attenuate) behaviors. Behavioral science teams look for and correct bias. Their work keeps the financial industry honest.

When financial advisors know how to use and apply behavioral insights, they develop stronger client rapport and can give tailored financial advice to clients. Ultimately, they can claim greater market share as they build a reputation of trust and integrity.

Think of that impact industry wide if behavioral science and discovery are applied to recruiting, assessing and managing people, truly tailoring advice, excluding any form of unconscious bias and making sure peoples inherent behaviors are accounted for.

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

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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.

Create a Behaviorally Smart Succession Plan

What is most frequently left out of an advisors succession plan is the client?? Not the assets, but the behavioral side of the client. After all, 93.7% of the financial planning process is the behavioral management of the client, so why wouldnt this information be a valuable part of your business and your plan?

When the advisor is close to retirement, the client really has three questions:
1.Will my portfolio be similarly managed and allow me to reach my goals?
2.Will the relationship with my new advisor be an enjoyable one?
3.Will I receive the same service?

You will notice that the majority of the clients concerns deal with personality and behavior.

Now lets move to the new advisor. They want to be sure to retain as many clients as possible. According to a Price Metrix Study, advisors retaining 95% of clients 2010-2013 grew AUM 25%; those retaining 80% of clients, grew AUM just 12%.

financial advisor, advisor successionWhat was a good fit for the retiring advisor may not be a good fit for the new advisor.? While you dont have to prospect to acquire this transitioned client, it can feel like you are starting over since you are just beginning the relationship.

There is a certain amount of trust that is transferred over from the retiring advisor but the new advisor will have to build it based on their unique personality.

Imagine being able to turn over your clients with the behavioral big data on how to sell, service and create a unique experience. The first appointment with the new advisor would be so much easier and the client would feel understood. Trust would be built at a much faster rate.? And trust is the key to retention.

Start building a behaviorally smart succession plan to ensure your clients will stay with a firm that you worked so hard to build!

To learn more, listen to Hugh Massies video on Behaviorally Smart Succession Planning.

3 Ways to Prepare for the Behavioral Awareness Movement

More financial services firms are starting to join the behavioral awareness movement.? Why?

Behavioral theories now have proven hard-edged results. By engaging clients on their terms, financial services firms can increase revenues and manage their compliance risks.

behavioral finance, behavioral awarenessWhat can you DO to help your advisors become behaviorally smart?

1. Give your advisors bigger behavioral data

93.6% of financial planning is behavioral management of the client. As described in What Drives Your Financial Decisions, an advisor needs to know deeper traits of the client such as personality style, emotions, listening style, communication preferences, confidence level and desire to control.? And, this behavioral data needs to be at the fingertips (via CRM) of the advisor and their staff.

2. Provide a client engagement solution for your advisors

In a recent survey by Practical Perspectives, one of the top topics of interest to advisors is client development and engagement.? Advisors are not interested only in theory.? What they really want is a program that is actionable and implementation-oriented.

3. Lead by example with your advisors

Does every employee that interacts with your clients know their communication preferences and behavioral style?? Research shows a 40% decrease in repeat calls when a call center rep tailored their response to match the unique personality of the caller (client).

Isnt it time to recognize individual differences and become behaviorally smart?

Discover the action steps to take now at www.financialdna.com.

How it Works, DNA Behavior, behavioral consulting, psychometric testing

Uncovering the Advisory Blind Spot

Dictionary meaning: blind spot a subject that you do not understand well, often because you do not want to know or admit the truth about it.

Most clients have a blind spot when it comes to financial management; but equally most advisors have a blind spot about who their clients are. The advisor often believes he or she can read people but it is natural the advisor will not be able to get a complete and objective understanding of the client regardless of their intuition or level of experience. Uncovering these blind spots has two powerful outcomes in the financial advisory process.

Advisory Blind Spots, Behavioral Finance, Financial PersonalityFirstly, for an advisor it increases their understanding of the importance of asking clients the right questions. Getting to know how clients are financially wired is a key to building relationships. Secondly, it uncovers the need for advisors to acquire skills that assist them to understand different client communication styles and how to use that knowledge to moderate/adjust communication styles to draw out information about clients financial behavior and decision making patterns, and from there adapt advice to better meet their needs.

The challenge for clients is that they dont know what they dont know and this leads to blind spots. They may well not be able to see opportunities in risk nor risk in opportunities, and advisors need to be able to expose these blind spots and the possible history behind them. Being able to discover their future plans, their aspirations, their background and what has driven or influenced where they want to go in terms of wealth management ensures that advisors give targeted advice that will undoubtedly build stronger client/advisor relationships.

Sarah and Michael recently engaged to be married decided to speak to a financial advisor about planning their financial future. The advisor encouraged them to save and invest; to work towards owning their own property and gave them reading material to support the advice.

Sarah and Michael left confused and dissatisfied. They had wanted to talk about handling money responsibly; they wanted to ask questions about separate or joint accounts; they wanted to start a college fund for the future education of their hoped for children; they wanted to avoid debt but use and manage credit sensibly; they wanted to ask about a self-managed pension scheme; they wanted to share their dreams for the future and how they could build wealth to enable them to realize them.

Did the advisor give advice? Yes. Did the advisor uncover anything significant about these two potential clients? No. Had time been invested into asking questions, discovering their financial personality style uncovering their history, revealing any blind spots ? the advisor would have discovered that Sarahs parents divorced after mismanagement of finances that led to bankruptcy and she was determined that this should not happen to her but knew she had many concerns about never taking any risk with finances. Michael came from a long line of financially astute family members. As a family they openly discussed finances and understood the importance of encouraging the younger members to do likewise.? Michaels family through careful management had built up a significant wealth.

http://www.communicationdna.com/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/cdna-solutions-slide-enterprise1-130x60.pngHad the advisor been behaviorally smart; had they objectively known the different behavioral styles and emotions of these clients which comes from using a formal behavioural discovery process; had the advisor been equipped to navigate human differences by discovering and aligning how to uncover different communication styles, behaviors, solution preferences and blind spots this story would have had a happier ending. As it was Sarah and Michael took their business elsewhere.

To learn more about uncovering the advisory blind spot, please visit the Financial DNA website.


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Discovering the Silent Killer

Indifference. Websters dictionary defines this word as lack of interest, concern or sympathy.

J.D. Powers and Associates just released the results of a survey that found 31% of financial advisors were indifferent about their work and have no strong attachment to their firms.? Without a connection to their firm, these advisors are likely to be open to discussions with competitors.

There is a silent killer lurking in the midst of our organizations. Could a third of your clients be classified as indifferent?

http://dnabehavior.com/Company%20Values%20Resize.jpgOne of the biggest challenges with identifying indifference is that we usually judge our clients through our own viewing lens.? That is not always objective. Or we point to our annual client surveys.? But there is a risk that you can have lots of data and not see what it is saying.

Indifference can translate into business risks.? The first is that the client will not stick to their financial plan and that will present problems for you in the form of difficult conversations and unrealized goals.? In addition, the client will not add money to their account or provide any referrals.? Finally, the client is open to conversations with other advisors and the ultimate risk is losing the entire relationship.

What can you do to combat the silent killer?? Start by asking a lot of questions to get beneath the surface of a client. Human differences are really the hidden obstacles in any relationship.? It takes time but you will uncover the behavior and emotions that lead to authentic engagement.? Next, be sure to adapt your communication style to that of your client. You might be excited about sharing all the market data when in reality your client is happy with the concrete, bottom line results. Finally, customize your products and services to your client.? A lengthy newsletter is not necessary to clients who prefer picture, graphs and bullet points.

All of these recommendations may seem small. But small changes produce big results.?? Keep in mind that it is in understanding behavior that leads to customer engagement.? When your clients are connecting with your firm at a deeper level, there is no room for indifference.

Learn how you can objectively uncover and navigate the different financial personalities of your clients by visiting the Financial DNA website.