Learn From My Experience Writing About Clothes For Advisors

August 9, 2016

by Dan Solin

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

My articles “How Female Advisors Should Dress to Win Clients” and “How Male Advisors Should Dress to Win Clients” summarized the data on the impact of the clothes advisors wear. These widely read articles certainly elicited a passionate response.

Here are two lessons that response highlighted that you might use in your effort to convert prospects into clients.

Changing minds is a zero-sum game

Some readers objected to information in these articles by stating something like, “I’ve done this for many years, and it works for me” or, “My wife looks great in pants.” When I read these types of objections, I know that I am unlikely to change any minds.

How many times have prospects conveyed views to you about investing that you can easily refute with data, yet they stick stubbornly to them? Investing (and, apparently, fashion) are emotionally loaded topics. People hold their opinions very strongly.

The data on the likelihood of changing minds is not encouraging. In an insightful blog post on Psychology Today, Alex Lickerman M.D. observed, “changing another person’s mind is literally one of the hardest things to do in the world.” Dr. Lickerman suggests a number of techniques for overcoming objections. I’m skeptical about their efficacy. These include:

  • Making the other person think your point of view was initially theirs
  • Permitting the other person to save face
  • Exploring the underlying experiences that cause them to hold on to their beliefs
  • Looking for common ground
  • Conceding minor points
  • Becoming a “trusted mentor”

None of these techniques would have helped me overcome the objections some of my readers voiced.

I have a better idea: Don’t make any effort to change your prospect’s mind.

Let’s assume a prospect tells you that he wants to buy great companies because he believes he will earn higher returns. You’re aware of compelling data indicating he might be better off buying an S&P 500 index fund.

Instead of showing him this data and discussing its merit, simply explain your investment approach and then ask him if it makes sense to him. He can agree with you without admitting his approach is not well-founded. If he persists in holding on to his view, tell him he would be better served by using an advisor who will implement his strategy.

Confirmation bias is pervasive

As an advisor, you are familiar with confirmation bias. It’s a tendency to “search or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.”

Less well known is “disconfirmation bias,” the tendency to reject evidence that contradicts our belief.

In my article on clothes for women, I presented the views of three well-known image consultants. All of them had authored books. I also suggested readers consider using image consultants who could tailor a look for them. Anticipating a storm of controversy, I ended with this caveat:

“The views of these consultants are intended to give you information you may – or may not – find useful. It is not my intention to suggest these are the only acceptable ways to dress appropriately in a business setting.”

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Clothes For Financial Advisors
Image source: thephotographymuse – Flickr
Learn From My Experience Writing About Clothes For Advisors