One of the fundamental aspects of being a successful advisor is dealing with a wide array of people, but it can be challenging. In an attempt to demystify the differing client psyches and help advisors enhance their value proposition, author, senior investment counselor and chartered financial analyst, Chris White, has identified the three types of client personality that show up in high stakes situations: the ‘Fixer’, the ‘Survivor’, and the ‘Protector’.
“Each personality type has differing strengths and weaknesses and will react differently to market volatility,” White explains. “That’s why it’s so important for advisors to understand which category their clients fall in to.”
White identifies ‘fixers’ as leaders who do not shy away from taking risks. “Oftentimes, when the market falls off, a fixer’s greatest desire is to get even,” White says. “They feel like they have to make money. They can be identified as ‘risk seeking’ in these market environments.” Fixers are known to ignore the guidance of the advisors, regardless of how it’s delivered. White suggests that advisors develop methods to team up with this sort of client and work with them, not against them. “With the fixer, the advisor may have to be more of a governor and calmly talk the client through their desire to take unnecessary risks,” White says.
A ‘protector’ is, by nature, more defensive and less inclined to take anything that could be considered a risk. In times of market volatility, a protector is likely to be very anxious, feel powerless and sell everything. “Protectors feel unable to handle loss, so their reaction is to flee the markets.” White says. “When dealing with a protector, an advisor may have to say something along the lines of ‘let’s not sell everything - the market is much cheaper today than it was yesterday and maybe there could be an opportunity to put some cash to work.’”
White sees ‘survivors’ as being risk neutral, even when the markets are really struggling. As well as being prepared to stick to a defined strategy, a survivor may be inclined to remain invested in a certain stock for longer than they should be. “The survivor is simply not going to do anything, so the advisor needs to step in and encourage them to act when a stock is falling and likely to go down even further,” White says. “Survivors soldiers on with an attitude of ‘I can take this pain’”.
In order to deliver the best advice and service to each type of client, advisors need first to be aware of their own personality, weaknesses and strengths. “With that knowledge, the advisor can begin to better understand their clients and what might be making them tick,” White says.
“There are different ways of building bridges with a client depending on their type of personality. Some advisors are ready to be students of that and others resist. After losing clients because of a lack of chemistry or understanding, maybe advisors will try to look at themselves more closely.”
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