Is “Cognitive Dissonance” Harming Your Business Development Plans and Quality of Services?

The mental and emotional tension of knowing what you should do and yet not doing it is a simple explanation of Cognitive Dissonance.

If we look, we can find its negative effects in many areas of our lives. If you are an investment advisor looking to grow your business and better serve your clients, it can be particularly harmful . . . even more so if you are unaware of its existence and its negative effects. Of all of the many things that you ideally should be doing, in this post we’ll focus on just one.

If you are reading this, you are likely aware of the ProRRT , the Professional RapidReview Tool℠.

Are you using it to recruit clients away from your competition?

That’s what it was specifically designed to help you do.

Are you using it to improve your investment recommendations and the investment results and satisfaction of your clients?

It was specifically designed to do that as well. Would you really not wish to have a compelling competitive advantage in new client recruitment and would you also not wish to improve your investment recommendations to, and investment performance of, your clients?

Yet even though this newly available tool was designed to directly assist in doing both, very few investment advisors have made any effort to try it.

Have you? If not, why not?

Your answer, or inability to logically answer, may reveal how and to what extent Cognitive Dissonance is negatively impacting your business development goals and the quality of the services you’re providing, perhaps dramatically.

Cognitive Dissonance is almost always objectively illogical and becoming aware of it is the first step in ending its negative effects.

But there is yet another aspect of Cognitive Dissonance that is more general, less visible, and industry specific that may be affecting you. And because it may similarly affect such large numbers of investment advisors (and industry leaders), the resulting illusion of a “strength in numbers” validation can make it difficult to recognize and even more difficult to remedy.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, describes it in this way:

“Cognitive dissonance, the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves.”

What beliefs or assumptions could be at stake here, in the financial services marketplace? How about starting with these:

  • There’s nothing truly new within the financial services world,
  • There’s no way to determine which mutual funds or ETFs may be best for any client (there are just too many and too much information about them),
  • The process I’m using to select mutual funds and ETFs to recommend to my clients is as good as anyone’s, and
  • My clients like and trust me, I downplay and don’t focus on returns, and I have no real fear of competitors.

Is there any new information that could contradict these beliefs or assumptions?

The answer is YES, absolutely.

The introduction of the ProRRT℠ and knowledge of its capabilities is the new information that contradicts every one of these, including the last one listed. If you’re not fearful of those using the ProRRT℠, you should be. Advisors using the ProRRT℠ will be recruiting clients away from investment advisors who are not using it.

But what’s coming is more of a threat than most investment advisor might imagine. The recent release of a simplified, individual investor version of the ProRRT℠, the Retail Investment Tracking Application℠ (aka “Rita”) will soon provide individual investors with more knowledge about the relative performance of their mutual funds and ETFs than the advisors who (without the benefit of the ProRRT℠) recommended them. The Rita Effect℠ is something virtually no one yet sees coming and for which advisors (other than those using the ProRRT℠) will be woefully unprepared.

The defensive maneuvers that the Encyclopedia Britannica then describes as being employed for the purpose of “preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves,” include: “they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means . . . .”

If you recognize any of these in your behavior, it’s a safe bet that Cognitive Dissonance is negatively affecting you and your future.

How much of this is intentionally being done, or is simply an uncritical, “go with the flow” acceptance of the status quo, is largely irrelevant. The negative effect is still the same.

So what’s the remedy?

Well, the first step in remedying any problem is to be aware that the problem exists. We hope that the discussion above has helped you to recognize the signs of Cognitive Dissonance and how they may be manifesting in your conscious and subconscious behaviors.

Having that awareness, the next step is NOT to indulge it but to directly act against it. In the present context, that action would be to simply try the ProRRT – to put it and its claims (the truth of the “new information”) to the test.

Cognitive Dissonance and its negative effects fade in those who are willing to do so and are prepared to accept and act on the results that they experience for themselves.

So, what do you want to do?

Do you want to stay trapped in Cognitive Dissonance, where nothing new is possible . . . where you continue to do the same things, in largely the same ways, as everyone else?

Or do you want to try something new and open yourself to the opportunity of better results for yourself and your clients and, in doing so, also help to beneficially change the financial services world?

The choice is yours. We hope you make it a good one. We’ll be happy to help.

eric_smith

Eric S. Smith, J.D.

Eric S. Smith, J.D. is CEO of Decision Technologies Corporation, and President and Investment Advisor Representative of Trustee Empowerment & Protection, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor

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