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Think you manage all of your clients’ assets? You may be surprised.


Ask this simple question to understand different reasons why clients avoid consolidating their assets with one advisor.

Like other financial decisions, how much money clients choose to invest with an advisor isn’t always a rational process. Instead, it’s often the result of underlying beliefs, emotions and fears that clients may not even be consciously aware of. 

Our new behavioral study on the factors that drive wallet share revealed common traits that explain investors’ relationship with money — and, in turn, how they approach relationships with advisors. Using that research, we identified five distinct personas you’ll find among your client base: Protectors, Competitors, Collectors, Verifiers and Simplifiers.


  • Our research shows clients fall into 5 distinct personality types.
  • Ask the right questions to discover their persona.
  • Build trust and wallet share by tailoring to clients' personas.

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Advisors who recognize their clients’ personas and the emotions driving their behaviors have a better chance of understanding what clients need from you to build trust and, in turn, feel comfortable giving you a larger share of their wallet. But it’s not as simple as asking your client which persona they are. 

Clients not only don’t think of themselves in terms of these personas, they also often can’t articulate the “why” behind the level of assets they allocate to their advisors. But advisors can unearth a crucial clue by asking one simple question:

Why do you choose not to consolidate your assets with one financial advisor?

Once you understand the emotions that drive a client's behavior, you can adapt your approach to yield better results.

Listening carefully to their answers

Asking clients why they haven’t consolidated their assets with a single advisor gets at some of the most relevant emotional and behavioral factors that define each persona. For example, your clients’ answers can reveal whether their decision is driven more by issues of trust and control or a desire to avoid risk or reach specific performance goals.

Consider these possible answers to that simple question, and what they reveal about a client’s personas:

  • “I don’t want to risk losing all my money, so I keep the majority of my assets in a money market account.” The client may be a Protector. 
  • “I like to compare how advisors’ portfolios perform against the money I manage on my own.” You’re probably dealing with a Competitor.
  • “I may consolidate someday, but I’m waiting to find the right relationship.” The client is most likely a Verifier.
  • “I don’t like having all my eggs in one basket.” This is a common trait of a Collector.
  • “I only work with one advisor because it’s easier to have everything in one place.” This is the Simplifier’s preferred approach.

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Following the clues

While one question won’t be enough to identify a client’s persona, it can prime you to watch for additional signs that may confirm your initial impression. For example:

  • Protectors might be reluctant to share their full financial information.
  • Competitors tend to avoid conversations about long-term planning.
  • Verifiers are more likely to focus on long-term planning.
  • Collectors may solicit opinions on advice they’ve gotten elsewhere.
  • Simplifiers are generally happy to delegate oversight of their investments.

Using personas to win trust (and wallet)

Understanding the emotions and behaviors that characterize each persona can guide advisors as they build relationships with specific clients. You might look for ways to mitigate a Protector’s fears by reinforcing the rules and concentrating on building trust. Or you may build rapport with a Competitor to make it clear that you’re teammates.

The key lies in identifying the common traits of each persona and using that knowledge to meet investors’ needs and desires. Once you understand the emotions that drive a client’s behavior, you can adapt your approach to yield better results.

Reach out to FlexShares to learn more about how to identify your clients’ personas, and what strategies work best for each one.

Wallet Share

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