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  • “There’s something I like about you…”
    We tend to get along with people who are akin to ourselves: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Ant and Dec; Batman and Robin — you get the picture. Discovering that we share some of the same needs, biases or opinions, or simply when we act, speak or even move in a similar way to someone else, are signs that we get along. Those who purport to know about such things tell us that when two people develop an affinity, it has little to do with the heart and a lot to do with the head.

    Empathy, affinity and trust
    The brain’s motor and sensory neurons send and receive the information we need to move or experience feelings. A more recent idea suggests that some of those neurons — known as mirror neurons — come to life when we see someone performing an action or experiencing a sensation. If the person (or animal) is enduring difficulties, we feel sorry for them — that’s sympathy; empathy, on the other hand, is quite different. We empathise when we see things from the other person's point of view, not just our own. In other words, we ‘feel’ for them. Out of empathy emerges affinity which begets trust. For those reasons, mirror neurons loom large in wealth management!

    What really makes a client tick?
    Conversations enable advisers to engage with their clients. But is what you glean from the client with regard to their views on investment all there is to know? How often, for example, have you wondered if he or she is genuinely interested in what you’re saying? Which of your clients look over their portfolio as often as they should? And of those that do, what aspects are they most interested in? Value and performance, costs and charges or the ESG X-ray for example? Mirror neurons may oil the wheels of the relationship, but they’re of no use to you in those respects.

    Making the best possible use of your time
    Unlike a penchant for fishing, cooking or philandering, it’s not always easy in a wide-ranging conversation to nail down what clients truly seek or value. That’s where digital and data comes in — analytics can pinpoint what piques a client’s interests. Information can be presented in such a way that clients either engage with it, or they don’t. You can then tell who cares, what they care about and who doesn’t give a jot (how you utilise those ‘deep dive’ analytical insights — i.e. covertly or overtly — is up to you.) Once the wheat has been sorted from the chaff, the adviser is able to concentrate on that which matters most to each client.

    Digital—more than a cheap distribution channel
    What an adviser and a client see in each other is what makes them ‘click’. But given that advisers want to provide the best service and outcomes to clients, the question is: how much more is there to see, or that you should know? The trends, patterns and touch points that data uncovers answers those questions. By combining the ‘under the surface’ knowledge that analysis reveals, with the intangible but undeniable magic of mirror neurons, client and adviser can enjoy a more fulfilling relationship.

    Andrew Watson – Head of Regulatory Change, JHC