How does knowing your identity impact how you relate to other people? What part does it play in boosting confidence? Throw the emotional and gravitational pull of money into the mix, and where does knowing or not knowing your identity fit?
There is no doubt that understanding your identity reflects who you are at the core. It informs the direction of your life. It highlights the importance of your communication style, whether professional or personal.
Here, we speak of identity as your inherent or innate passion and purpose and the associated behaviors, good or bad.
People, then numbers
It may go without saying that we are all different and being able to manage differences enriches relationships. That can be particularly impactful in the financial services industry, where the emotional pull of money is front and center.
In fact, understanding the identity of clients is foundational to the advisory process. The same is true of advisors knowing their own identity. On a day-to-day basis, advisors need to be able to adapt their own communication to those of others. For example, they need to know when to be direct, inclusive, soft, a listener, or a counselor.
When knowing identity focuses on the advisor-client relationship, walls come down, creating a much healthier framework for delivering advice. Advice that is likely to be more accurate and lasting. Clients know when an advisor genuinely knows them and cares about their life goals, plans, and wealth creation. They know when advice is more about people than numbers.
Money decisions are different
I’m passionate about pioneering the understanding of money behavior. We of course all have innate behaviors and understanding those behaviors – especially as pertains to decision making – is particularly challenging but also particularly revealing when it comes to money.
Money impacts every aspect of our lives. Money can power our lives positively or negatively, regardless of the amount of money we have.
But what I’ve confirmed over the past few years is that when individuals know their identity, they can put money to work for them positively. As a result, they tend to make fewer decisions – about money and finances but also about other things – that impact them negatively.
When you know your identity, you know your talents, and you know your inherent behaviors, leading to wealth creation via applying your skills and building meaningful, supportive relationships. Whether you are an individual investor or leading a team or organization, it’s essential to understand the energy of money and people’s relationship to it.
Identity as info & armor
We live in a world that is highly dynamic and interconnected. Whether the speed at which we all work, the many ways technology has shaped what we do, or the deluge of opportunities coming at us, we need to be able to flex. To adapt at a moment’s notice.
So, if identity is what shapes and protects us, we understand who we are and our inherent reactions, and we can flex and adapt securely. We are less likely to make bad decisions. Instead, we see opportunities for what they are and choose whether to grab them or walk away.
A cautionary note for advisors and industry leaders is that the environment changes regularly inside a business and in people’s lives. Unless identity is known, you have no way of anticipating how clients will respond to life challenges. In reality, you are advising and leading the (figuratively) blind.
As an advisor, knowing your own identity is transformative. It increases and clarifies the quality of the questions you ask your clients, the observations you make, and the guidance you provide them – including how and when you communicate with them. You know the importance of getting to foundational stuff that means the advice you give or leadership style you adopt is suitable for that individual in that scenario at that time.
The clarity of identity
Whatever your life circumstances are, discovering a robust identity and then living it is the pathway to accelerating your advancement. There are no magic bullets here. There is work and focus involved.
Once you get the clarity of your identity, your confidence will dramatically increase. Confidence is the Number One influencer of performance. The journey will be highly positive, and through it, you will be a better person, at work and at play. And, as an advisor, you will have a better business.
It’s true for both advisors and clients: Genuinely live your identity and your purpose, and the money will follow.
See Hugh’s other writings for Nasdaq here.