A phenomenal amount of information is pouring out of research labs about how the brain works, how its processes change as time goes on, and how to stimulate learning at any age. Some of the key implications for advisors:
o Take advantage of the differences in men’s and women’s learning styles. (See “Gender Matters,” September 2005 Investment Advisor.) A planner I know makes sure she has charts and numbers to show male clients. She rarely takes this approach with women, who are more likely to feel stressed when information is presented this way.
Women tend to learn better in a slightly warmer, quieter environment, sitting across from you with good eye contact. Men generally learn better at somewhat cooler temperatures, either on the move (walking and talking) or sitting beside you with information in front of them. Find out your clients’ most comfortable learning style, and cultivate that way of informing and educating them.
o Minimize distractions. To help older clients be as fully present and focused as possible, meet in a quiet room without phones ringing or keyboards chattering. Ask them to turn off cell phones so they can give you their full attention.
o Repeat key information. To reinforce connections in the brain, be sure to summarize the key decisions and conclusions at the end of a client meeting. You might also ask clients to tell you what they got out of the discussion, to help them mentally record what they learned as well as to show you what they may have missed.