Published Articles

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

SuperUser Account posted on July 15, 2011

By Lee Conrad

July 1, 2011


I've been a fan of behavioral finance for a long time and I've often argued that it offers important lessons for Corporate America. I've had mixed success in those discussions, partly because it sounds to some like just an academic pursuit. The very phrase behavioral finance does little to warm the heart. (And for you advocates, behavioral economics is no better in that regard.)

But the ideas behind that phrase resonate. People make decisions continually and many of them aren't sound. The notion that an advisor needs to understand people and motivations as much as numbers and investments is an idea whose time has come.

That's the one unifying theme in our stories this month at Bank Investment Consultant. In our cover story, Inherit the Windfall, writer Joanmarie Kalter talks to a number of advisors about how to handle clients who suddenly come into a lot of money. And guess what? The problem is not a spirited debate of developed versus emerging markets. No one mentions an overbearing fear of deflation. The problems are more psychological, such as feeling emotionally connected to a parent's favorite stock holding. Robin Arnold, one of several advisors you'll hear from in the article, says it best: "The easy part is financial." Some of the ways other advisors connect to their clients in that situation include sharing personal stories about their own family losses, or sharing their own bank statements.

You'll also get a full dose of psychology from the Careers column, Go Mental to Close More Business. Rick Rummage delves into personality types. As much as we all like to think we're unique, Rummage says we are each in one of nine personality categories. And the real fun begins when those types begin interacting. Some mix well, others do not. The lesson: know your clients' personalities and know how to interact with them. Don't just take "your game" to someone else's field. Change your approach to fit their personality.

And for a good example of an advisor connecting with her clients on their terms, just look at our Producer Profile this month, Planting The Seeds To Become A Star. Advisor Starlette Vance lives and works in Ripley, Mississippi. She doesn't focus on the high-net-worth segment, but she has carved out a nice business for herself and a loyal client base by genuinely connecting with her clients. She even asked us to include one of them in her photograph. (We did.)

And last but certainly not least, we have an Outlook piece from Vanguard's Fran Kinniry, Advisor's Alpha: A New Proposition. With market returns in general much lower over the past decade, along with an explosion in market information, advisors today are under the microscope. Kinniry details how you can add value for your client in such an atmosphere.

So whether you call it behavioral finance, investor psychology or just psychology, a deep understanding of human nature is more important than ever in this business.