On the final day of FPA Retreat 2015, attendees gathered to hear author and behavioral finance expert Daniel Crosby, Ph.D., talk about influence. His message: the biggest problem your clients have is managing their own bad decisions around money. So how do you get people to do what you want?
Crosby said he sees many financial professionals focusing on things that are out of their control. Instead, focus on things that are in your control; focus on how to manage behavior.
He shared six weapons of influence, taken from two books—Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, and Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny and co-authors.
A great truth of human kind is that we keep mental debits and credits of who owes us one and who we own one to, according to Crosby. “The best and most powerful thing you can do, is to always be doing for [clients]; be putting ‘good’ out into the universe, to be a little corny,” he said.
Once something is scarce, suddenly we want it, and Crosby said we need to take advantage of this scarcity. “People want to get exclusive advice,” he said. “If it’s hard to get, it must be worth having.” He offered a word of caution, though: people want things that are scare, but not too scarce. “Think about this when marketing your business,” he said.
Humans are deeply wired to accept authority and to follow orders. Clients want authority, but they want it in a very specific way, according to Crosby. He shared stats indicating that the No. 1 way clients look for authority is through a CFP or advanced degree, like an MBA. But it can be hard to talk about your own authority, so Crosby suggested planners build up the authority of the other people on their team or in their firm, and they will return the favor.
Commitment feeds itself, Crosby said, and our need to be right is deeply ingrained. With that in mind, Crosby said, “Just like investment policy statements, we need to have behavior policy statements. We need to get clients to commit to ways of acting.”
Social proof is a powerful way to influence human behavior, according to Crosby. “We think in stories,” he said. “When we’re trying to get someone to do something, we need to tell them how this type of advice has worked for other people like them.”
We are most influenced by people who are like us, and we often look at small, insignificant things when determining who we like—things like where we went to school and what sports team we like. So how do you become “likable”? Crosby explained how the research consistently shows that we like attractive people (read: well-groomed), complimentary people (those who compliment us, even if it seems unauthentic), and funny people, as humor creates an immediate bond. We also like people with whom we share a struggle.
Crosby closed with these words: “The work that you do [as financial planners] is enormously impactful. The average person who received financial advice does 1.86 percent better, per annum, than those who do it themselves, and this was more pronounced during the great recession. But it’s all for not if your clients can’t learn to leverage you for who you are.”
Journal of Financial Planning