Have you ever found yourself scratching your head once a client leaves your office, thinking, “I’m pretty sure they didn’t understand a word of what I was saying”? Most of us have had one or more clients where the communications are always difficult, where when you say “blue,” they see “red.”
In such cases, you were undoubtedly trying to communicate with a client whose high-net-worth personality (“HNWP”) conflicted with your own. Every client has a dominant HNWP, and there are nine distinct types.
The most common HNWP is the Family Steward, and they are easy to identify. When you ask them about what’s most important, they’ll inevitably say something like “taking care of the kids” or “leaving a legacy for my family.” Family Stewards tend to be conservative in their personal and professional lives, and are typically not highly knowledgeable about investment matters, since they prefer to spend time and energy on other things.
When working with Family Stewards, emphasize how your services are helping them reach the all-important goal of taking care of their families. When Family Stewards come into your office, make sure you and your staff members address them by name and ask questions like, “How is Sophie doing in ballet?”
Next are the Independents. They see investing as a means to an end, which is to have enough money to do whatever they dream of doing. Independents seek the personal freedom that money makes possible. They may want to sail around the world, retire and do pro bono work or have the best garden in town.
You can be sure Independents are not interested in working a 9-5 job any longer than they have to. Since it’s simply a means to an end, they’re not highly interested in the details or process of investing. Keep your conversations with Independents very focused on their goals, and keep technical jargon and information to a minimum.
Then there are the Investment Phobics. Burdened by the responsibility of wealth, they dislike detailed conversations about finances, and technical information irritates and confuses them. When you do meet to discuss their finances, they’ll want to talk about anything and everything else, so you’ll need to keep them on track. Investment Phobics are challenging to work with, but they tend to be both highly loyal and enjoyable clients.
The Anonymous have not just confidentiality — a huge concern for many — but anonymity as their primary concern. Your employee handbook (which you should show these clients) should explicitly state to staffers that talking about clients outside the office is grounds for immediate termination.
For the Mogul, the primary concern is control, and investing is just another way to extend personal power. With a Mogul you’re not the co-pilot or navigator, you’re just someone who enables them to move forward while they stay in control. The good news is that such individuals are very decisive and take responsibility for whatever happens. The bad news is their egos and personalities can be quite difficult.
VIPs have status and prestige as their dominant concern. They like to affiliate with brand name high-visibility institutions and advisors, and look at investing as a way to purchase superior social status. They are very likely to spend above their means. In their pursuit of status they tend to be highly leveraged, and have fewer investable assets than one might think by looking at their status.