Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 11

Behavior Gap

Our Job: Building Better Investors
By Carl Richards
A while back, I started a blog called Behavior Gap. It sprang from a statistic in the annual Dalbar report: The average investor’s return is dramatically lower than the average mutual fund’s return. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this piece of information changed the way I do business—and it certainly changed what I think about the nature of a financial planner’s job. If it’s true that real people pretty dramatically underperform the average investment, then maybe my job as a financial advisor is not so much about finding the best investment. Maybe it’s about helping people become better investors. Placing investors over investments would be a dramatic shift for our industry. As advisors, we seem to be totally consumed with the idea that our job is to find the best investments. But what if the importance of finding the best investments pales in comparison with helping investors behave correctly? If that’s the case—and I think it is—then the most important thing we can do is improve the way clients act. So maybe we’re no longer in an arms race over who has the biggest computers and the best analysts who find the best investments. Maybe it’s indeed true that if our clients owned a mediocre investment and behaved correctly, they would outperform most of their neighbors. Think about this: The debates that so many advisors obsess over—say, whether to use actively or passively managed funds—only matter to the degree that they influence our clients’ behavior. So maybe we shouldn’t be asking whether we believe in passive or active management. Instead, what if we viewed this question, and others like it, through the lens of behavior? It would mean that there’s no right answer. There’s no wrong answer. Instead, the “right” choice would be the one that you and your clients believe will positively influence their behavior. A big part of that means staying true to our own philosophies. If I’m an advisor who believes in passive management, for example, I better be darn sure that I really believe it. Only when I really believe it will I be able to inspire the trust clients need in order to avoid the classic behavioral mistakes. That may mean that not every client is going to fit into my belief system. And if a potential client falls outside of it, I’d be doing myself and that client a disservice to take him on: I’m not going to be able to provide the advice he needs at just the moment he needs it. But the ones who do fit into my belief system will trust me. And that means that when they’re required to behave correctly—even when it’s hard—I’ll have developed the trust to help them do it. So many of our industry’s tools and communication pieces aim to present a logical set of facts to try to convince people that they should act one way or another. But behaving correctly is, at the core, an emotional issue: Real people in the real world often behave in what might seem an irrational way. And you can’t solve an emotional issue by throwing facts and figures at it. Instead, you’ve got to figure out what tools will make the greatest impact on behavior. And they’re not always the ones that show up on a spreadsheet. For example, in many cases it’s empirically true that adding alternative investments to a portfolio will reduce risk and increase returns. But if it also adds complexity and headline risk with which your client isn’t comfortable, it’s going to be difficult to inspire the client to stay the course when times are tough. Here’s why: We are genetically wired to get away from things that cause us pain. We’re wired to want more things that create pleasure, safety, or security. Everyone knows on a theoretical level that selling low and buying high is a bad idea, right? But when tough times come, we just want to get away from the pain. And throwing facts and figures at an emotional problem like that is like trying to put out a grease fire with water: It just makes it worse. So we can educate clients until we’re blue in the face. But in the end, all that matters is that they trust us. And the depth of that trust is a function of the quality of the time we spend together. If this is the case, does it change how you do business? It did for me. K
Carl Richards believes that the world is a better place when people make smarter decisions about their money. That’s just one of the big ideas he promotes at BehaviorGap.com, where Richards asks tough questions about financial planning and investor behavior. Richards puts his ideas to work in the real world through his firm, Prasada Capital Management.

MorningstarAdvisor.com 11


http://www.BehaviorGap.com http://www.MorningstarAdvisor.com

Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010

Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010
Contents
New On MorningstarAdvisor.com
Contributors
Letter from the Editor
Our Job: Building Better Investors
What’s Your Biggest Long-term Concern for the Economy?
An Early Start
Women’s Work
Investment Briefs
Markowitz 2.0
Asset Allocation Is King
A Decade of Riskier Assets ...
... but with plenty of Silver Linings
Be Prepared
Facing up to the Economy’s Problems
Levelheaded
Surviving on Conviction
Four Picks for the Present
Pharmaceutical Firms Get the Urge to Merge
Funds That Look Cheaper Than the Market
Finding Dividend Leaders
Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
50 Most Popular ETFs
Undervalued Stocks with Wide Moats
VAs: Assets Rise as New Sales Slip
New at Morningstar
When You Wish Upon a Star
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Cover2
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 1
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 2
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Contents
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 4
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 5
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - New On MorningstarAdvisor.com
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 7
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Contributors
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Letter from the Editor
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 10
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Our Job: Building Better Investors
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 12
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 13
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - What’s Your Biggest Long-term Concern for the Economy?
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 15
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - An Early Start
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 17
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Women’s Work
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 19
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Investment Briefs
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 21
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Markowitz 2.0
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 23
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 24
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 25
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 26
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 27
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Asset Allocation Is King
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 29
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 30
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 31
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 32
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 33
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - A Decade of Riskier Assets ...
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - ... but with plenty of Silver Linings
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 36
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Be Prepared
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 38
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 39
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 40
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 41
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 42
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 43
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Facing up to the Economy’s Problems
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 45
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 46
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 47
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 48
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 49
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Levelheaded
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 51
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 52
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 53
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Surviving on Conviction
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 55
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 56
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 57
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Four Picks for the Present
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 59
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 60
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Pharmaceutical Firms Get the Urge to Merge
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 62
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 63
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Funds That Look Cheaper Than the Market
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 65
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Finding Dividend Leaders
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 67
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Mutual Fund Analyst Picks
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 69
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 70
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 71
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 50 Most Popular ETFs
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 73
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Undervalued Stocks with Wide Moats
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 75
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - VAs: Assets Rise as New Sales Slip
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 77
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - 78
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - New at Morningstar
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - When You Wish Upon a Star
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Cover3
Morningstar Advisor - April/May 2010 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q3
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2020q1
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_2019spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20191201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20180203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20181201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20170203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20171201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20160203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20161201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20150203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20151201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20141011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/magazine_20140203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20141201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20130203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20131201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/investorconference2012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20120203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20121201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20110203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20111201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405_lincoln
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20100203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20101201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20091011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_20090203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2007summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008catalog
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/morningstar/advisor_2008winter
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com