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FAs Must Rein in Their Implicit Biases

August 30, 2017

Financial advisors should get rid of biases that prevent them from adequately serving their clients, Adrienne Penta writes in the Wall Street Journal.

Wealth management clients are becoming more diverse and advisors are increasingly faced with people who come from different backgrounds, according to Penta, a senior vice president and executive director of the Brown Brothers Harriman Center for Women & Wealth.

Anecdotal data on female clients suggest they’re often frustrated with their advisors because of unconscious behavior quirks, she writes. To address them, advisors must first pinpoint examples of such behavior, for which Penta suggests taking an implicit association test designed to identify attitudes and beliefs people are sometimes unaware of. These include assumptions about gender, for example, and while they’re not necessarily negative, it’s still important to be cognizant of them, she writes.

The next step is to identify ways in which biases lead to neglect of certain clients and then modify behaviors to address them, Penta says. She suggests advisors talk with other team members and peers about client services to zero in on such biases.

Adrienne Penta

Advisors should systemize best practices by creating guides for client contact, for example, according to Penta. Instituting this approach may take months or even years, she writes — but as a result, advice practices will be better served to deal with the changing demographics of wealth management clients.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wall Street Journal article cited in this story, click here.