No two people’s financial situations are ever the same. Finding a financial advisor who really understands that and who can deliver truly tailored advice is getting progressively more difficult.
So, it is increasingly incumbent upon financial advisors to have a depth of behavioral insight in order to deliver a significant level of personalized advice. Some advisors have taken steps to obtain a range of behavioral finance tools to ensure they are meeting client needs.
But the use of scientifically based data gathering tools is only part of the solution. The core objective, and a regulatory requirement, is to put the client first.
If financial advisors are proactive in demonstrating their absolute commitment to delivering individual client-based solutions, they’ll be demonstrably more successful, as reflected by client satisfaction, retention and referrals.
Behaviorally smart financial advisors don’t wait for regulatory requirements to force them to seek out ways to more effectively understand client communication:
- They learn how to communicate with clients who find money an emotive subject;
- They know how to satisfy the client who wants to be presented with exciting opportunities;
- They know how to talk to a risk taker who needs to put the brakes on;
- They invest time and resources into holistically understanding clients’ financial personalities; and
- They learn the methods for revealing information, hidden below the surface, that is pertinent to client’s financial well-being.
Be the advisor about whom a potential client thinks, “she could become my financial coach and mentor.” Or, “I believe this advisor is the guy with whom I can work for years…that my family will rely on as they need financial advice and make life decisions.”
Sadly, many clients don’t feel empowered to engage new advisors. Often this reluctance to change their advisor is simply because trust is at an all-time low. Therefore, “better the devil you know” holds.
A colleague’s insight
A recent conversation with a colleague is worth sharing:
Many years ago, I wanted to invest in an exciting start-up. Something about thisentrepreneur and his ideas excited me. My financial advisor wouldn’t even discuss the opportunity, referring to me as a “novice” in terms of investing and to the entrepreneur as a “seven-day wonder.” The advisor had no idea about me, my plans for my life and indeed I think saw me as an amateur.
As I am reminded of that incident many years ago, I wonder if the advisor (long since out of my life) remembers the conversation as he watches the multi-billion-dollar empire this young man went on to build.
All it would have taken for this story to have a different ending, was an advisor who understood that I don’t take risks, but that I am very savvy when I see an opportunity, and that at that time I could well afford the amount I wished to invest. But that advisor had no idea how to communicate with me.
That is just one of the many anecdotes we hear.
Client-centric for the win
It’s time for advisors to approach their clients as though they were their financial advisory soulmate. Working toward matching clients with advisors, based on communication style and the understanding of behavioral biases and decision making, will build confidence for the client, and enhance relationships for the advisors. Such a customer-centric transformation – that is, putting the client first – builds trust and attracts more customers.
Not every organization can afford to invest in sophisticated technical solutions, but even the smallest of advisory firms can and should invest in a process that reveals clients’ financial personality and communication style at a deeper level.
Restoring trust and faith in a battered and bruised financial sector starts with you. With putting people before numbers. With relationships.