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What to Do When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

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What to Do When Clients Self-Sabotage Their Investments

Since the global financial crisis and recession, clients are driving the industry in ways never thought possible (or appropriate).

Investor fears, lack of confidence and market uncertainty are provoking clients to demand better and more personalized advice from advisors. In this new client-led environment, advisors are struggling to understand how to navigate clients’ emotions, inconsistent thoughts and biases, while remaining in control of the advisory process. The relationship becomes further strained when the client presents as a know-it-all, bent on self-sabotaging.

Much is written about the role of the advisor and their behavior, but less about clients who don’t seek advice, but, rather, instruct advisors, perhaps to their own peril.

If the role of a financial advisor is, and should be, to advise, then what approach can they take to manage clients who know everything and think it is they who are the experts? Likewise, what to do when clients repeat mistakes and don’t want to learn from them?

Clients with this self-sabotaging approach to their investments are often unwilling to listen, are not open to new ideas or collaboration, and believe their opinions are the only ones that matter. As an advisor, these client traits may ring true for you.

Unfortunately, all advisors will experience such clients at some point. The key is knowing how to manage it in a way that provides a win/win solution to the client’s wealth creation options and maintains a healthy advisor/client relationship. Here are a few techniques to apply and to identify and challenge the self-sabotaging behavior of clients:

  1. Listen empathetically; remember the clients’ approach could stem from a lack of confidence around money, which to many is an emotive subject.
  2. Don’t let your frustration show; this is a client, not an adversary. Acknowledge what they are saying, as this engages and keeps them connected into the conversation.
  3. Remember, you are the financial expert, so get your facts straight, but be willing to listen to their investment suggestions and demonstrate your openness by offering to research on their behalf.
  4. Don’t allow the conversation to get away from you. Stay calm and focused. Most importantly, ask questions. Investors tend to get agitated by market volatility, perhaps unaware just how normal it is. The power of targeted questions can unravel some of this self-sabotaging behavior.

These techniques are more powerful when advisors have a level of information in advance of client meetings, as they can be tailored to each client’s uniqueness. Not only can financial personality be revealed, but perhaps more importantly, a guide to individually crafted questions is available to advisors so they can manage meetings based on revealed behavior.

Increasingly, the financial industry is turning to scientifically-based data gathering to prepare advisors, in advance of client meetings. Not only does this insight identify self-sabotaging behavior and provide direction on how best to manage it – it also delivers insight into:

  • Bias that can get in the way of investment strategy.
  • How to place clients more effectively at the center of the planning process.
  • Planning risks triggered by self-sabotaging behavior.
  • Issues, often hidden below the surface, that drive imperfect decision-making.
  • Risk propensity and risk tolerance that needs to be known and managed.
  • Whether the client sees their advisor as a financial coach and wants the relationship to be collaborative or Wants to delegate their financial decision making to the advisor and simply be kept informed.

Advisors who invest in scientifically based client discovery processes, understand that self-sabotaging behavior can come in many forms and that managing it must be approached on an individual basis.

Next time we’ll talk about things advisors need to know to better identify and assist this type of client, including how client behavioral insights empower advisors. In the meantime why not try our complimentary DNA Behavior Natural Discovery here.

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