Personality Essentials for Financial Advisors – Hugh Murphy
Did you know that 41% of investors who plan to drop their financial advisor rate “Friendly” as the advisor’s top personality trait? 75% of those who adore their advisors rate “Professional” highest. What personality traits do Canadian investors tent to ascribe to their financial advisors? Professional, Knowledgeable and Friendly, Trustworthy and Honest. And in that order; it’s an intriguing order given the nature of their business.
Why is this important, rather than merely interesting? Financial advisors must understand that there is a real and significant relationship between client loyalty and the personality investors see in their advisors. To acquire and keep clients for the long term, and to minimize client defection, top advisors work hard to understand and build their brand personality profile. They take care to deliver carefully crafted experiences that establish and support a profile that is intentionally aligned with their efforts to build their business, knowing that their personality is integral to loyalty.
The generalized results discussed above are from our ongoing study of Canadian investors. That particular sample includes more than 8,000 investors who have less than $1M in investable assets. For investors who have more than $1M in investable assets, the top five traits are the same… but the ascription levels range from 55% to 67% rather than from 48% to 59%. (The ordering of Trustworthy and Honest are reversed… but we wouldn’t hang too much on that.) Effectively, we find that higher net worth investors find greater levels of personality in their advisors than other investors. Personality is a key element of loyalty.
Loyalty and Personality
Consider the profile of the advisor whose clients are real Advocates — investors who would recommend their advisor to others. What does that profile look like?
With these Advocates as investors, the advisor’s personality comes shining through. Professional, Knowledgeable and Trustworthy lead the pack with 75%, 74% and 73%, respectively. Absolutely none of these investors indicate that their advisor has no personality. And, certainly, none find their advisor overbearing.
On the other side of the street we see a very different story. The other side of the street we call The Switch Zone. It’s where investors are looking for a new, different advisor. Here a full 10% of investors find that their advisor has no personality at all. Though 41% of these investors recognize their advisor as friendly… that and $1 doesn’t get the investor a cup of coffee in 2017. Having Friendly as the advisor’s leading personality trait clearly doesn’t deliver the value investors expect from a financial advisor. That’s mere table stakes; investors who will be loyal clients demand more.
Advisor personality is washed out for investors who are in the Switch Zone. Where an Advocate ascribes Friendly to their advisor 69% of the time, only 41% of a Switch Zone investor’s advisors are seen as Friendly. The Switch Zone investor’s advisor is seen as professional by only 39% of their clients. For the Advocate, the comparable stat is 75%. This washing out of personality — the fact that Switch Zone advisors have less personality ascribed to them — is a clear indicator of investor disengagement. It’s the fast-track to client defection.
So. What’s the ideal personality? Well, there’s no right answer to that question. We will say, however, that the nature of the clients an advisor attracts will reflect their personality in some respect.
And how do you build an individualized brand personality? (This is, after all, a branding exercise.) Simple: client experiences are the answer. Develop your relationship with investors by way of the telephone only, and see where that gets you. Develop your relationship through twice-yearly meetings at the client’s location of choice and see where that gets you. Send them a quarterly newsletter and see what that does for you. Every touch-point the advisor has with the investor is an opportunity to deliver an experience that will contribute to (or compromise) their designed personalty. Here are the absolute basics:
Pick a maximum of four personality traits that you want your clients to ascribe to you when someone asks about their financial advisor. Then, create an inventory of the touch-points you have with your clients. Ask: “When do my clients see me or any (yes, ANY) representation of me that will conjure me in their minds?” Then for each and every touch-point ask: “Can I affect or manage the way they experience me, in any way at all?” If you answer is no… move along to the next item in your inventory. If the answer is yes, then consider that touch-point through the lens of each of the personality traits you want to own. How might you adjust what you currently deliver as an experience, however slightly, to be more reflective of the personality trait you want to impart.
As you work through your client touch-points and consider them through the personality trait lens, you’ll find creative ways to impart your unique personality to the experience you deliver to clients. Over time these will affect your brand and create your unique brand personality.
Good luck with it! If you’re interested in discussing this or other Credo research, feel welcome to call us.
NB: Credo has been conducting this research in cooperation with Investment Executive, Canada’s leading trade publication for executives who are part of the personal investment industry. The ongoing study itself is called The Financial Comfort Zone Study. We survey 1,000 investors each month and ask them an extensive battery of questions about their personal financial situation.