The Growing Importance of Behavioral Finance—and How Advisors Can Increase Wallet Share

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Behavioral finance is growing in popularity, offering new insights for financial advisors. The market swings of the past few years have been one of the key reasons behind this shift, with many advisors turning to behavioral strategies as a way to guide clients through periods of uncertainty. A behavioral approach also has significant benefits. Research shows that it can help to alleviate investor anxieties and increase trust between advisors and their clients.

If you’re considering incorporating a behavioral approach into your practice, it can be helpful to know what to expect. Below, we share insights on behavioral strategies and explain how you can leverage them to grow your client relationships. 

A Behavioral Approach Can Help You Better Understand Your Clients

One of the best ways to build trust with your clients is by having a clear understanding of the way they approach their finances. A recent study by FlexShares, “The Key to Gaining Wallet Share: Understanding How Clients Think,” found that investors generally fall into one of five different personas—and these personas shape how they engage with their advisors.

  • Protectors: With a careful approach, Protectors tend to avoid risk whenever possible and are wary of giving up financial control to their advisors. Making up around 10% of investors, Protectors tend to keep less than half of their assets with advisors and are more likely to manage their investments despite having little expertise. As a result, they often keep their savings in cash or conservative investment vehicles.
  • Competitors: Encompassing around 7% of investors, Competitors are primarily focused on outcomes and are likely to test out multiple advisors in the hope of finding the best fit. Competitors are also less likely to focus on long-term planning, preferring instead to focus on performance and current rates of return.
  • Collectors: With a strong desire for varied expertise, Collectors tend to seek out multiple opinions. Making up 22% of investors, they are highly in tune with their financial needs and don’t like having all of their eggs in one basket. As a result, they generally don’t consolidate their assets with a single advisor, though advisors who take a holistic approach are more likely to gain access to a larger share of those assets. They are also open to thinking about the future and talking about long-term planning.
  • Simplifiers: With a preference for simplicity, Simplifiers are largely okay with an advisor taking the lead on managing their finances. Making up 28% of investors, they tend to be more hands-off and are interested in finding advisors who can make straightforward recommendations.
  • Verifiers: As the largest percentage of investors (40%), Verifiers often have more experience managing their investments and tend to look for advisors who can offer them a personalized approach. While they want to build a long-standing relationship with a single advisor, they also want to ensure that the advisor they work with can offer them the client experience they’re looking for. 

As you consider your client base, knowing the nuances of these personas can help guide the way you interact with your clients. It’s also worth noting that while Protectors, Competitors, and Collectors are less likely to let primary advisors know about all of their assets, they can be just as “high value” as Verifiers or Simplifiers. The right approach can often make a difference in their willingness to share this information.

Addressing Concerns Can Build Stronger Advisor-Client Relationships

In addition to giving you a better sense of your clients’ approaches to their finances, identifying client personas can help you connect with clients more effectively. For example, it can simplify the way you determine which of your clients are more risk-averse or outcome-oriented.

This can be especially helpful during tough economic times since investors are more likely to seek out advice during these times. The ongoing volatility we’ve experienced this year is a prime example. Our recent investor sentiment survey found that 57% of respondents are worried or very worried about recent market events, concerns that can be somewhat alleviated by working with a financial advisor.

Demonstrating a deep understanding of your clients’ goals and anxieties is a great starting point for building a long-term relationship. This can help your clients feel validated and allow them to be more open about their needs.

Increasing Trust Can Help Increase Wallet Share 

Another benefit of strong advisor-client relationships is that they can have a positive impact on your practice by increasing wallet share with your current clients. According to the FlexShares study, a behavioral approach is one of the most effective ways to gain wallet share since it not only strengthens the bond between clients and advisors but also gets to investors’ core emotions about their finances.

If you’re ready to implement or refine a behavioral approach, FlexShares can help. With deep-seated expertise, they can guide you through identifying client personas and help you determine which behavioral strategies are most effective with each type of client. 

As behavioral finance continues to gain traction, it’s likely to shape the evolution of financial advice. With a strong sense of your clients’ needs and motivations, you can make this strategy work for you as you continue growing your client base and your practice.

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  1. FlexShares, “The Key to Gaining Wallet Share: Understanding How Clients Think.”

  2. Investopedia, “Investor Anxiety is High, but not Leading to Much Action, https://www.investopedia.com/investor-anxiety-is-high-but-not-leading-to-much-adjustment-5341385.”