Last week at a Financial Planner conference, I was sharing with one of the delegates, details around the imminent launch of Be-IQ’s Behaviour Coaching training course; 10 live webinar events where we cover the aspects needed for financial planners to deliver behavioural coaching within their business.
The conversation was a real moment of confirmation bias for me! She confirmed exactly what I suspected all along – that behaviour coaching is fast becoming a crucial part of the advice and planning process. I am of course jesting… we’ve researched the necessity and importance of behaviour coaching for a long time, and always rely on what the evidence tells us.
So what exactly is the evidence telling us? Well, we can answer this in two ways. What the research tells us, and what real life experience tells us.
PART 1: WHAT THE RESEARCH TELLS US
No article on behaviour coaching would be complete if it didn’t reference the work that Vanguard have undertaken around the benefits of behaviour coaching in relation to financial advice. Their research shows that applied behaviour coaching can add 150bps in extra return… or an extra £1,125 on a £75,000 investment. That’s a significant amount of extra return. Now imagine that in the cumulative sense, across all clients.
However, delivering behavioural coaching requires a well-informed foundational understanding of investor behaviour and how to apply what you know to the customer’s financial plan. This is where we come in, and more on that further down!
But research also shows that there continues to be a significant change in the role of the financial planner, from that of planning to one of counselling. The academic literature is peppered with research papers on the rise of money coaches and financial counsellors. In their 2018 research paper titled “The Financial Counseling Profession”, authors Durband, Carlson & Stueve state that financial counselling is about ‘assisting clients through prevention and intervention services to help them meet their goals’.
At the very heart of this approach, there needs to be a cast-iron understanding of people’s behaviours and their propensity, in crucial situations, to either behave in a way aligned to their financial plans, or mis-behave in a way that is likely to do harm to their long-term financial wellbeing.
PART 2: WHAT REAL LIFE TELLS US
We can split this into two sections. What the market demand for behaviour coaching is, and how real customers benefit from it.
Let’s deal with the latter first.
We have been working with Ovation Finance, a Bristol-based financial planning firm, for over 6-months. They have been trialling our Beta version of a new service we are launching in Q4 of this year.
The overwhelming feedback from them is both positive and insightful. Armed with behaviour insights, they can deliver behavioural coaching, and get on the front-foot… be completely pro-active in the delivery of their service to customers. In one particular incident, they called a client off the back of the behaviour insight they had gleaned from the Be-IQ service, only to find that the client was indeed exhibiting the very behaviour we said they would. This is powerful stuff, and only strengthens the bond between planner and client, but more importantly, allows the financial plan to remain on-track.
In relation to the market demand, we only need look as far as the recent purchase of Wealth Management firm United Capital in the USA, bought recently by Goldman Sachs for $750m. United Capital have never hidden away from the fact that the core of their FinLife platform is based on behavioural principles, with a series of game-like questions to tease out clients’ goals, fears and aspirations. According to industry analysts, this was a very attractive part of the business for Goldman Sachs, who themselves have a laser-like focus on understanding consumer behaviour.
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
Let’s jump back to my conversation I mentioned at the start of this blog.
During my conversation with the financial planner, she said the most wonderful thing to me in relation to behavioural coaching.
“Combine top-notch financial planning with behavioural coaching, this is where the gold dust is… this is where the magic happens!”
I love this quote, and believe it to be absolutely true. The two services, financial planning and behavioural coaching, go hand-in-hand… they are truly symbiotic. Do one without the other, and you only have a part of the story.
But behavioural coaching requires the right foundation, an understanding of behaviour that runs deeper and is more applicable to the behaviours investors exhibit.
This is why, starting on 9th July, we are running a 10-episode webinar series focussed on delivering behaviour coaching. There are more details about this on our website.
I have a deep-rooted belief that understanding people’s behaviours, especially in relation to money, and having the necessary tools and insight to manage them in relation to financial planning, is much needed. Looking around, it’s clear to see that there is a triangulation of demand for this type of service. Demand from people who are ever more keen to learn about themselves, demand from financial planners who are wanting to deepen their understanding of their clients, and demand from our regulators who are focussing in on behaviour as a core-component in the know your client journey. Combing financial planning with a behavioural coaching solution satisfies all three of these demands.
At Be-IQ, we believe that factoring in behaviour is central, not an add-on, to modern services and relationships. That behaviour is the crucial element to the success or failure of a goal. And that greater self-awareness provides a clear route to better financial decision making and with it, a greater chance of financial wellbeing. Why would you not factor it in?
To register for the upcoming behavioural coaching webinars, please click here.