What’s Your Client’s Thinking Style?

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FPA recently partnered with Bunnell Idea Group to provide Bunnell’s signature GrowBIG® two-day training to FPA members at a significant discount. The first preview of that training appeared in the FPA Virtual Learning Center’s webinar “The Impact of Thinking Styles on Client Communication,” and provided some great insights into how to connect more effectively with clients.

Speaker Debra Partridge led participants through an interactive overview of a tool called the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument that categorizes people according to dominant tendencies in their thinking.

The top two quadrants represent more abstract thought processes while the lower two quadrants represent more limbic or visceral thought processes. The two quadrants on the left represent the more left-brained thought processes, while the two quadrants on the right represent more right-brained thought processes.

Roughly speaking, that means that people who have dominance in the upper left quadrant tend to be very analytical—they want to talk about what things are going to get done and value conversations that emphasize return on investment, accuracy of data and thorough analysis.

People who have dominance in the lower left corner tend to be tactical thinkers—they want to talk about how things are going to get done and value conversations that emphasize due diligence, experience and minimized risk.

Moving to the lower right corner, thinkers with dominance in this area tend to be emotional in their thinking. They think about who will be affected by what gets done and their predominant focus is on personal connection.

Finally, thinkers with dominance in the upper right quadrant tend to be strategic in their thinking. They think about why things get done and they value conversations that emphasize philosophy, the big-picture view and innovation.

Speak Your Client’s Language
Partridge explained that only about 3 percent of people are balanced, with equal strength in all four areas, and that if you approach your clients speaking solely out of your area of dominance, you could be failing to really reach about 75 percent of them.

The general descriptions, above, can give you an idea for how to apply the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument to help you understand your own areas of dominance and those of your clients. Obviously, more detailed use of the instrument and qualified interpretation of the results can increase that understanding. But Partridge suggested one tool that struck me as particularly helpful called a “Walk Around the Brain,” that can be used if you’re not sure about your clients’ areas of dominance or if you’d like a unified approach that is likely to reach your clients.

Here’s how it works: Begin in the upper right quadrant and explain why. Partridge used the example of new legislation that prompted a change in the financial plan. Then, she moved to the upper left quadrant, and explained what, using the example that the legislation would have a 15-percent impact to a given financial goal. Then, she went to the lower left quadrant and addressed how. In her example, the tactic was to review the portfolio and projections for the goal and adjust accordingly. Finally, she brought it home by addressing who wins. In this case, the tactics were being pursued so that the clients and their family would be more comfortable in achieving the goals they had set.

Learn More
You can find the webinar OnDemand through FPA’s Virtual Learnng Center. The two-day training (of which the information in this webinar was a tiny part) will be held Aug. 27–28 in Atlanta at the most significant member discount of $950. The two-day training will also be offered as a pre-conference workshop to FPA Experience 2012 and at FPA chapters for a per-member price of $950. Nonmembers can attend the training for the regular price of $2,500. Visit http://www.bunnellideagroup.com/ and contact training@bunnellideagroup.com for more information or to register for training.

Mary K. Corbin
Director of Learning and Development
Finanical Planning Association

One thought on “What’s Your Client’s Thinking Style?

  1. Excellent focus Mary. It is such an important part of team building and a well functioning organization as well. CEO dominance on style and prevalence within firm limits is ability to Grow and remain Stable.

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