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The Price You Pay For Being Self-Unaware

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The Price You Pay For Being Self-Unaware

November 17, 2015

by Dan Solin

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

Because I limit my coaching practice to working with evidence-based advisors, all of my clients appreciate the value of sound, peer-reviewed academic data. I often start my presentations by asking two questions:

  1. How many of you believe in evidence-based investing?
  1. How many of you believe in evidence-based methods for converting prospects into clients?

All hands go up in response to the first question. But I get blank stares in response to the second.

I struggled to find a reason for this anomaly. It finally came to me during a discussion with a client about the data on the impact of clothes.

The issue is a lack of self-awareness.

The data on clothes

It is beyond dispute that what we wear has a huge impact on how we are perceived by others. There are many studies on this subject. They all come to the same conclusion.

The studies demonstrate that well-dressed men are judged to be more confident, successful, flexible and higher earners than their less-well-dressed counterparts.

Similar findings apply to both genders. Women who dressed in what was considered more provocative clothing were judged less favorably than those dressed more conservatively, even though the differences in their clothing were relatively minor.

Other studies (summarized here) demonstrate that clothes not only affect the way others perceive us, but may dramatically impact our behavior. For example, one study found that male football players and male ice-hockey players who wore black uniforms played more aggressively (and were penalized more often) than players who wore white uniforms.

The clothes you should be wearing

There is also little doubt about appropriate dress for financial advisors of both genders.

In a related example from several years ago, UBS issued a dress code that instructed members of its retail banking staff in Switzerland to wear dark gray, black or navy blue suits, which “symbolize competence, formalism and sobriety.”

There are many websites that provide excellent advice for women on what “is generally worn in Wall Street circles.”

The advice for both genders is not complicated to understand or difficult to implement. Why, then, is it so frequently ignored, at least in my experience?

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