Pain--whether physical, emotional or financial-- is a call to action. Pain is like the warning lights on the car dashboard.
Just as each of us has a style of dressing, so, too, each of us has a style of addressing pain signals. I noticed five patterns which I call the "pain personalities": The Strong Stoic, The Worried Well, The Ostrich, The Victim and The Ideal.
This pain personality usually predicts the response to physical, emotional and financial pain.
I believe that this pain personality is shaped in childhood and is largely unalterable. However, insights about pain personalities can help you respond to your clients in the most effective way.
The lessons I learned about managing physical pain have helped financial advisors respond to their clients’ financial pain, so here they are.
The Strong Stoic A sturdy Scandinavian patient once told me, "You needed to be near death's door before Mother called the doctor. Sure, money was tight. I think the real reason we didn't go to doctor was pride. Although Mother never said it, we knew that being healthy and being tough were sources of pride. Illness and pain were shameful conditions that were hidden."
Strong stoics may try to manage their own finances as a matter of pride.
If your prospect is a strong stoic, expect that you will not hear about pain until the situation is quite serious.
When working with Strong Stoics, emphasize the courage and the strength of character to seek advice and focus on the return to financial health.
If a Strong Stoic client calls you on the phone, pay close attention. Something very serious is happening.
The Worried Well Think of the client who has a solid financial base, but is still haunted by the irrational fear of becoming homeless. Another name for this person is the “financial hypochondriac.”
These are intelligent people who hear about a new financial ill on the news, and recognize that they have several of the symptoms -- and maybe they have this diagnosis! They know just enough to be dangerous.
The Worried Well do best with regularly scheduled visits. It’s easy to tune out the long litany of new concerns. However, just as a broken watch is right twice a day, financial ills can really strike!
The Ostrich We all need a healthy dose of denial to get on with our days. However, denial can go overboard and threaten financial health.
Denial is rampant among doctors.
If your client is an Ostrich, your most effective strategy for serving your Ostrich clients is to understand their reality, then offer an alternative point of view. Support this with the authority of the opinion or story of a doctor colleague.
The Victim Some people experience themselves as victims of external circumstances. Further, they’re powerless to change their reality. Victims often dismiss ideas that could empower them.
If you take on a Victim client, expect challenges. Their words say they want to achieve financial health, but their actions say something quite different.
The Ideal The ideal client gets engaged, makes proactive choices and has a well-calibrated intuition.
Knowing your clients’ pain personality is like knowing their tennis swing. If you observe the swing pulls to the right, you suggest adjustments to get the ball where you want it to go.
Similarly, once you know your pain personality, you can recommend adjustments so the actions are closer to the Ideal.