How Our Clients Will Really Make Financial Decisions in 2022
- How we make decisions
- How do we speak to our clients’ subconscious minds?
- Why is this difficult?
- How can we help?
When our clients think about the word money, it’s not really money they are thinking about. It’s the feeling it creates for them. The freedom, security, safety, love, joy, opportunities and choices.
In fact, we all make decisions about money based on our emotional response to the meaning and purpose we choose to give it. This makes me incredibly curious to the fact that financial services advice is very left brain, very factual and very linear and therefore to help our clients make better decisions around money, we need to help them uncover their emotional responses and understand the feelings they are seeking beyond the desire to plan for their financial future.
Evidence shows that over 90% of our life decisions come from our unconscious beliefs. These are the deep-rooted beliefs that we have created during our life based upon the stories we, or others, have told us about money. Alex Pouget, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, has shown that people do indeed make optimal decisions—but only when their unconscious brain makes the choice.
So how do we speak to our clients unconscious mind?
The first step is awareness. Understanding their narratives, what they are saying about money, and the meaning they give to these stories can help them to remove any negative beliefs keeping them stuck in unhealthy cycles and habits. Creating habits is harder than creating new beliefs.
When there is fear present around financial decisions, our brains detect pain and threat and the fight or flight reaction is triggered. Avoiding risks, avoiding making decisions, avoiding even talking about it. I bet you have noticed this in client meetings with an absent partner, a client hoarding cash or indecisions about investing where risk is perceived as dangerous.
But why is this so difficult?
Many clients think backwards. They try and make decisions based on the logic. They’ll try and rationalise their heat steps based on a set of pre-existing beliefs. But what happens when those beliefs aren’t true? They make unhealthy decisions based on other peoples’ judgements, society expectations, or worse, make no decisions at all. They self-sabotage. They don’t follow the plan. They have a resistance to the plan. They don’t take enough risks. Their decisions are being driven by high powered emotions such as fear, judgement, guilt, shame and regret. If our clients’ feel they are not good enough, they fear they won’t have enough. This state of ‘enoughness’ will then inform their behaviours both in their actions and inactions.
So how can we help?
Seek out this awareness and be curious to their language. Invite them to share their money stories. Listen out for the limting beliefs. The words and phrases that come after the words “but” or “because”. These are the stories unconsciously that limit their choices. Start with helping them identify what these beliefs may be by exploring their early relationship with money growing up.
Then sit back and listen to the breadcrumbs of language. Ask them, ‘What are the three beliefs about money that you want to change? What would be possible if you let these go.”
Identify their financial values. Ironically, clients come to us because they want to create change. They want to feel better. But then they resist our advice or may refuse to follow through because part of them wants to change and part of them doesn’t. They have likely never thought about if their spending is congruent with their values. Use their bank statements to explore what they value with their money. What they spend is what they value and what they save is what they seek. Aligning clients spending habits with their values can assist with redirecting the power they are choosing unconsciously to give money.
Seeking this awareness and curiosity of language with our clients will open up a garden of opportunity for the client to feel heard, understood and valued. It focuses your value proposition on the person, not just the numbers. I would argue that this human connection is what is most valued this year more than ever before and will be incredibly powerful to help our clients make better decisions for 2022 and beyond.
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