Appealing to the right brain: 4 ways to rethink your wealth management branding


Nick de Sherbinin

In my last post, I explored the ways in which prospective wealth management clients evaluate firms and make decisions using both sides of their brain — the left, or rational, side, and the right, or emotional, side. In this post, I’d like to focus on the right side of the equation.Recent research into the science of decision-making reveals that the right brain plays a significant role in the process, even in areas that might be considered primarily the domain of rational deliberation.

Choosing a wealth advisor is an obvious example.

With this in mind, I think now may be a good time for wealth management companies to reevaluate their messaging. By understanding the implications of these findings and learning how to leverage them in your communications, you can open up new avenues to engage with, educate and on-board new clients. 

Appealing to the right brain

Reaching out to the right brain has some interesting implications for your brand, your messaging and your creative strategy.

1) Communicate from the inside out

At the center of your brand is the emotional core of your business. Call it ‘purpose’. It’s always there, even when it’s obscured by the day-to-day demands of your business.

To define your firm’s purpose, start with answering the simple question, “Why?” Why are you in business? Why do you and your colleagues get out of bed every morning? Why do your clients trust you to manage their money rather than a competitor? The answers to these questions are powerful because they’re personal, and because they’re personal, they’re differentiating.

2) Tell your story 

Storytelling has a strong appeal to the right brain which engages your prospects more readily. Indeed, prospects are far more likely to pay attention to you – and far more likely to remember what you had to say – when the stories you tell relate to their own personal experience. Find narratives that address their wants and needs, and you’ll find a receptive audience.

And make sure your stories relate to prospects’ needs in a human way. Talking to a millennial who is starting to accumulate wealth? Show your understanding of their mindset through a story about how your services have changed with the times or how your firm gives back to the community. Is multigenerational wealth transfer top of mind for a prospect? Weave in ways in which you’ve helped others in similar situations in your messaging. In all cases, strive to demonstrate sensitivity, experience and personal commitment.

3) Communicate in a human way 

Think of the conversations you have with friends and family. They’re not formal or data-focused – they’re personal. Similarly, find ways in your communications to integrate metaphors, imagery and everyday language. The right brain listens harder when you do.

I’ll give you an example. Which of these two statements do you think is more approachable?

  • “We construct sophisticated asset allocation strategies designed to withstand market volatility.”
  • “We can’t predict how fast your money will grow, but we can invest it wisely in a variety of ways with the goal of protecting you from losses.”

Now ask yourself, which statement more closely reflects they way I talk to my clients, and which is more easily understood? If it’s the second statement, it may be time to look at your current communications and see if a new firm marketing voice is required.

4) Appeal to how your prospects REALLY make decisions

There’s a lot of evidence that human beings make decisions with strong emotional input, and then we use our rational minds to justify our decisions. Although the balance between the two may shift depending on whether you’re buying a circular saw or selecting a wealth manager, the two decision drivers are always in play.

When you present your prospects terms like ‘fiduciary responsibility’, ‘alternative strategies’ and ‘rebalanced portfolios,’ you’re appealing to their left brain/rational thought process. But you’re also missing an opportunity to talk to them about the same issues in a more human way.

Think of why clients engage with your firm in human terms. Emotional benefits like reassurance, encouragement, confidence, and relief may come to mind. These are emotion-laden words that are the counterparts to the uncertain state of mind you may encounter in prospects. Weave them into your brand story, and you’ll be making connections with prospects that simply aren’t possible with the language of wealth management, which can often come off as clinical and unapproachable.

A final thought

For a variety of reasons, transitioning the way you communicate the benefits of working with your firm is challenging for wealth managers, who are often more comfortable when they’re dealing with numbers, analytics and hard and facts. It requires a commitment to rethink not only your firm’s purpose, the services you provide and how you deliver them, but how you communicate all of this in a human way.

Here at 360 we believe that while it may be challenging, it’s also how your wealth management firm can differentiate itself, engage with prospects and stand out in a crowded marketplace.