Personality Plays a Bigger Part Than IQ in Financial Success
"The higher your IQ, the greater the probability you will earn more than average."
Like many people, I have believed this common money script to be true. It seems to make sense that the smarter you are, the more likely you are to succeed financially. Many of us assume there must be a correlation between higher incomes and high cognitive abilities as measured by IQ tests.
I was surprised, however, to learn that this is not the case. A study published in November 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that a high level of innate intelligence is no indicator of financial success.
A December 2016 article in Bloomberg cited one of the co-authors of the study, economist James Heckman. When he asks how much of the difference between people's incomes can be tied to their IQ's, most people guess between 25% and 50%. The actual number is about one or two percent.
The study found that personality plays a much bigger part than IQ in financial success. The personality trait that was most strongly associated with earning a high income was conscientiousness.
What, then is conscientiousness? One definition from the English Oxford Dictionary is "wishing to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly." A conscientious person is described as diligent, dedicated, perseverant, self-disciplined, meticulous, attentive, careful, studious, rigorous, and hard-working.
The article also warned to be careful not to confuse a high IQ with good grades. They are two very different things. It found that grades and the results of achievement tests were better than raw IQ scores at predicting success. Cognitive ability is only one factor in getting good grades. There are several non-cognitive factors that heavily influence grades, such as perseverance, good study habits, and the ability to collaborate. All of these, of course, are qualities of being conscientious.
The study also found that a secondary trait influencing financial success was curiosity. This is one of the nine traits commonly found in people with high emotional intelligence, according to Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. In a November 2016 article titled "9 Habits Of Highly Emotionally Intelligent People", Bradberry says that emotionally intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. "Curiosity is the product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ." Bradberry says the more a person cares about other people and what they're going through, the more curiosity they will have about them.
The bottom line in financial success is that personality counts, a lot.
This is good news for parents of young children. While you can't do much to influence a child's IQ, you can influence conscientiousness and curiosity.
One way to do this is through direct teaching. For example: Give them some responsibility for household chores. Provide work spaces and schedules to foster good study habits. Help them explore and learn about things they show interest in. Show them that you appreciate emotional intelligence and relationships. Encourage them to finish what they start, and celebrate and appreciate their successes when they persevere.
To teach financial conscientiousness, encourage kids to save for things they want. Allow them to experience the consequences of financial misjudgments like spending all their allowance the minute they get it. Involve them in family projects like planning and saving for a vacation.
Of course, just as with most behaviors and personality traits we would like our children to develop, the most effective form of teaching is by example. The best way to raise conscientious and curious kids is to let them see us being conscientious and curious ourselves.
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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