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Behavioral Intelligence

Protect Clients from Themselves

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Your client’s long-term financial goals may be out of sync with the risks they’re willing to take to reach them.

According to a recent survey by asset manager Natixis, while about 70% of investors they polled said that growing their assets is increasingly more important than protecting their principal investment, nearly 60% also said they were unwilling to take on more than minimal risk.

For financial advisors, this is both a challenge and an opportunity.  The challenge is being able to accurately assess a client’s core natural risk propensity and tolerance and the opportunity is to educate the client on realistic expectations and strategies to reach their goals.

Where advisors often fall short is not identifying all of the risks associated with each client: investment, financial, and personality risks.  This is an important factor because clients under stress will operate based on their core natural behavior.

As clients get closer to retirement, they are under a lot of stress. Their worries regarding accumulation of enough money for retirement may push them into new, riskier investment decisions. Escalating long-term health care costs, market uncertainties, and the emotions associated with being in the “withdrawal stage” rather than “accumulation phase” will push a client to act according to their core natural behavior.  In many cases, this mix of stress and decisions based on clients’ reaction to that stress is not beneficial for the long-term success of the portfolio.

As a financial advisor, you need to manage your client’s behavior and protect them from themselves.  This is an important step in client engagement and your successful practice because under stress, client risk behavior is less predictable without an objective tool. Some clients will want to jump at every opportunity, others will over-spend, and still others will want to take no action.

In many cases, couples’ behavior will be directly opposite one another. So, there is an added challenge for advisors to know each of the behavior of each individual in the pair to be able to address them in different ways.

How do you uncover these behavioral risks in your clients?  You need an objective, third party system so that your clients’ behavior under stress becomes predictable and is less of a guessing game. In combination with your experience and wisdom, discovering clients’ financial natural behavior will allow you to become a behaviorally smart advisor and enhance client satisfaction and financial profile.  “Better to be a witness, than a judge”, commented one financial advisor who uses Financial DNA as his primary tool in the client discovery.

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