What Drives Your Financial Decisions? Know Your Behavior Style.

As a financial adviser to doctors, dentists and small business owners for more than 25 years, Rick Helbing of Suncoast Advisory Group has long studied people and how they make financial decisions.

What people say and do are not always compatible, said the Sarasota, Florida financial planner. Despite what clients would tell him about their financial goals in the discovery process, they could unravel a carefully developed plan in one moment of emotional stress.

So several years ago, Helbing started determining clients behavior styles using profiles powered by DNA Behavior, to gain insight into their financial decision-making process and possible self-sabotaging behavior. Through the use of questionnaires and analysis, these profiles offer a deep understanding of a persons financial and personal make-up and include all the predictable, natural, hardwired behaviors that instinctively take over when a person is under pressure or stressed. (Remember the economy and markets in 2008?)

Financial Planning, Financial Personality, Quality Life Planning, Perpetual Income

Your natural go-to behavior takes over your learned behaviors, said Helbing. It is who you really are versus who you think you are or want to be.

Clients receive four reports that uncover their Communications DNA (how they want to be communicated with), Quality Life Performance (quality life drivers including life purpose, career, finances, health and recreation, community, relationships, confidence and wisdom), Financial DNA (inherent life and financial motivations) and Financial Personality (risk tolerance and financial behavior).

Knowing his clients DNA helps Helbing adapt so that he can more effectively communicate with them, and gives him a true picture of their risk-taking behavior. For example, research has shown that a persons risk-taking propensity and risk tolerance are really two different behaviors. More than 20 percent of people have a greater propensity to take risks than their ability to live with the consequences of taking them (or tolerance).

At first I started incorporating the DNA Behavior tools into my client relationships, but now they are 100% of my discovery process, Helbing said.

Developed by behavior strategist Hugh Massie, founder and president of DNA Behavior International, these tools have been independently validated with research by the International Center for Behavioral Research and a team of independent consultants from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

In a nutshell, there are 10 behavior styles:

-????????? Strategist (realist, analyzer)

-????????? Initiator (visionary, reflector)

-????????? Influencer (visionary, people connector)

-????????? Engager (people connector, intuitive)

-????????? Community Builder (people connector, stabilizer)

-????????? Relationship Builder (stabilizer, compliant)

-????????? Facilitator (reflector, stabilizer)

-????????? Adapter (a blend of all styles)

-????????? Stylish Thinker (analyzer, people connector)

-????????? Reflective Thinker (analyzer, reflector)

Each behavior style has a different relationship to money. For example, the Influencer and Strategist both relate to money in terms of goals and are likely to take some risks. However, Influencers will likely spend it to raise their profiles, and will tend to be more flamboyant in the process and connect to many people to share fun and lifetime experiences, whereas Strategists will tend to be savers and concerned about ensuring their financial security. This could make them hoarders, living more modestly than they need to.

For clients, knowing who they really are will help them understand and therefore manage their behavior. With mentoring from Helbing, they can learn to build on their strengths and minimize their risks. Also, knowing the behavior style of their spouse or business partners will help them communicate more effectively and unlock any blockages to decision-making. This also helps to facilitate multi-generational communication and long-term wealth building.

Once you know your behavior style, you can be aware of how you sabotage your own goals, said Helbing. Many clients have told me that knowing their Financial DNA has freed them to be able to relax and let the financial plan play itself out.

Rick Helbing is the co-owner of Suncoast Advisory Group enjoys a national reputation in crafting plans for physicians, dentists, and family-owned businesses. The firm is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, and maintains an office in Jacksonville, Florida. Website:

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Financial Planning ‘in the Life Gap’

Three thoughts that could change the way your customers view risk.

When it comes to wealth management planning with clients their response might come from:

  1. The life they are living
  2. The unlived life they could be living
  3. The Life Gap in between these two.

I wonder how much potential your customers have that lies unrealized in the Life GapTM? Life Planning in the Gap, financial planning risks, financial risk behavior

  • A new business venture
  • A more radical approach to the way they currently conduct their business
  • A long laid down dream that needs finance to ignite
  • A chance to build a dream house
  • Finances to go to/return to University
  • Become a philanthropist

As an advisor, consider this thought:? what keeps intelligent, energetic, vibrant individuals from achieving their wealth building and wealth management objectives?

Some key thoughts to consider are emotional, behavioral and communication factors.

Lets look at some obstacles to building wealth that can inhibit people from taking action to achieve their financial independence and to encourage their decision making to be from knowing whats in their Life Gap and leveraging it to move them to the life they could be living.

  • Fear of not making good decisions ? how well do you know your clients? Have you any insight into what might lay dormant in their Life Gap?
  • Fear of making a bad investment – what happens if something goes wrong? Do you know their preferred communication style? How could knowing this assist you in uncovering historical information and experiences to help improve the advisory process?
  • Procrastination – when it comes to finances, they need to take an honest look at themselves and their habits to figure out what they are doing that prevents them from succeeding and realizing whats in their Gap. Do you know how to uncover such information?

In a highly competitive industry, as is the financial planning industry, success may well come from having an edge over competitors. Being able to reveal the position from which clients make their financial decisions and knowing the natural risk taking behavior is foundational because it is inherently stable over long periods of time and therefore predictable through different market events. The natural hard wired behavior will always instinctively reveal itself and take over when a person is under financial and emotional pressure. Therefore, such behavior strongly influences their decision-making. This is when they are likely to make decisions from the life they are living and close down the personal skills, opportunities, what ifs which remain unrealized in their Life Gap.

Visit the Financial DNA website and learn how to discover your clients’ risk taking behaviors in order to help them achieve their wealth building and wealth management objectives.