'Normal'​ Has Changed, And So Have Your Clients

Written by: Leon Morales

Over the past couple of months, as people emerge from home isolation, with some physically getting back into the world of work, I’ve sensed a shift. Perhaps it’s because I work in behavioral science; nonetheless, it’s there.

Something has shifted in the psyche of many people. I wondered if it was because of the lockdown or because of greater use of technology (both?), or perhaps due to frustration that service and decisions they needed to make now take longer.

I decided to catch up with some industry leaders and find out why things had changed – if they had – and how and whether others felt the same.

New paths, new goals, new methods

The single most significant response I received was surprising, yet also completely understandable: People themselves have changed. They’d had longer to reflect on themselves, their life, their expectation of how they now wanted to be treated by others, and most interestingly of all, their absolute insistence that service providers get to know them better and at a deeper level.

One observation was this…the world is moving so much faster, and I’m concerned I and our business won’t be able to keep up….

When I dug a bit deeper into this, financial advisor Jackson (a pseudonym) explained that customers were changing their investment plans. They were demanding new ways of looking at wealth creation. Some were making radical changes to life goals and expecting the advisor to have corresponding solutions infused with a real understanding of the client.

Jackson noted that the time needed with each client has increased exponentially as they share what the next season of their life should look like, wanting to also recalibrate financial management to match the reimagined life and life goals.

Not only were customers demanding a new take on their investment portfolios, but they were also bringing forward conversations about succession planning – even those clients years away from retirement. They now seem more keenly aware that no one knows what the future holds. They must make the “someday” changes NOW.

Behavior tech is here

One of the solutions I suggested to Jackson: Take a deep dive into the latest thoughts and practical solutions that form behavioral science. Investor expectations have changed. They are much more aware of behavioral science – in concept, if not by name – and its role in decision-making (and the delivery of the self-knowledge critical to decision-making). They know some providers and industries are tailoring services and products and delivery specifically to them.

Never before has an industry seen such behavioral chaos as individuals look for transformative ways to live their lives. Many financial advisors are responding by stepping up performance. Looking for an edge. And, yes, leveraging behavioral science is one of the solutions.

As I finally said to a concerned Jackson: Those in financial services – and beyond – who want to remain competitive and relevant are embracing the hyper customization available through behavioral tools. After all, savvy advisors have systems for accounting, marketing, payroll and more. A tool for understanding people – clients and yourself – is overdue, and not as tough to implement as you might expect.

Behavior tech is the future. It must be the customer service priority to understand people before numbers. Then you can help deliver the numbers you and your clients both want.

Related: Can Behavioral Diversity Strengthen Financial Advice?