Plenty of quantitative measures support the oft-cited analogy between a financial advisor and a football quarterback. Football players view the quarterback as a leader on the field and in the locker room while investors look to their advisor for guidance and reassurance throughout the year. Quarterbacks call a play that fits the situation on the field while advisors help select investments appropriate for the client’s circumstances.
A study released last year by Morningstar Behavioral Research took this comparison a step further by offering quantitative rationale. The report sheds light on the significance of understanding behavioral finance, as well as the pivotal role emotional factors play in nurturing the client-advisor relationship.
I want to guide you through key findings from the study and provide insights about how you may be able to utilize this knowledge in your practice.
Behavioral Finance Plays a Big Role in Hiring a Financial Advisor
One of the study’s most striking revelations was that investors often engage with financial advisors to alleviate the anxiety they experience related to managing financial matters. In fact, investors more frequently noted emotional reasons for their hiring decisions than financial ones (60% of responses versus 40% of the time).
Specific emotional-oriented motivations included:
- Discomfort handling financial issues (32%)
- Desire for behavioral coaching to help maintain behaviors beneficial to finances (17%)
- Trusting the recommendation of friends or family (12%)
- Feeling as though the advisor-client relationship would be high quality due to the advisor’s values, having trust in the advisor, or having a good rapport (10%)
I think these statistics provide a clear mandate for financial advisors: you need to recognize the critical role behavioral coaching plays in a maintaining a highly effective advisory practice.
Investors are Less Transparent About Their Emotional Motivations
The duality of motivations – emotional and financial – underscores why it’s important for financial advisors to understand and address both needs of their clients.
Moreover, while clients are likely to be transparent about their financial needs, they are usually less forthcoming about the emotional ones, as articulated in the report:
“Clients may feel reluctant to discuss their feelings about why they are seeking help with their finances (especially with someone they just met) because such topics can make people feel some degree of powerlessness. Yet our research shows that three in five prospective clients sitting across the desk from you will have some emotional driver that brought them in to talk with you.”
In light of these findings, it’s important for advisors to address emotional needs in a tactful and subtle manner – even when the client doesn’t vocalize them.
Being able to effectively speak to the emotional needs of the person across the desk from you, or on the other end of the phone, has the potential to enhance the advisor-client relationship from day 1. It can also positively influence investor behavior over the life of the relationship.
How to Demonstrate Your Full Value as a Financial Advisor
While financial advisors can add value by providing solutions for specific financial needs – retirement planning, wealth management, and tax planning – their role extends beyond these tasks. You can play a crucial role in providing behavioral coaching and emotional support.
That role should start as soon as the first meeting.
For example, you can share common emotional reasons why other clients have hired you as their financial advisor. You can also discuss ways hiring you has helped your clients feel peace of mind about their finances, which demonstrates that you can help alleviate discomfort about handling finances. Even if a client doesn’t have the same concerns as the ones you share, they may appreciate examples of the value you can add through behavioral coaching.
When it comes to talking about behavioral finance, the words you use also matter.
Investors’ discomfort in handling financial issues often stems from a lack of confidence in their financial knowledge or skills, or from fear of making costly mistakes. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Morningstar research shows investors strongly dislike wording like, “stay in control of your emotions,” but are more receptive to, “help you avoid behavioral mistakes.” The full study offers a few more examples.
How We Can Help You More Fully Focus on Your Clients
At Blueprint Investment Partners, we are tuned into this type of data and research because our goal is to support financial advisors in effectively serving their clients. Said another way, we seek to help top financial advisors focus their time on the activities that add the most value to their business.
Firms like ours can support advisors with day-to-day operations – portfolio management, market research, and operational support – to free up an advisor to focus on enhancing their practice to address items like the findings in this survey.
Helping advisors be aware of this information, and then supporting them as they execute on it, is the driving force behind Blueprint Investment Partners.
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