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How to Use the Neuroscience of Trust to Increase AUM

How often do you trust a complete stranger? If you’re like me, you might want to think you’re smart enough for this. But the reality is that we’ve all done it. Many of us are social creatures and derive pleasure from connecting with others. According to Paul Zuck, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and professor at Claremont Graduate University, our brains have “two neurological idiosyncrasies. Which allows us to trust and collaborate with people outside of our immediate social group.”

The first nature is to be able to put oneself in another person’s place. Jack Tells Us That It Contains Our Hypertrophied Cortex on the outer surface of the brain. This part of our brain enables us to better understand what the other person is thinking and adjust accordingly to connect. For example, when you meet a prospect who has had a bad experience with mentors, you can slow down your process to make sure that person is comfortable.

second nature is empathy, Our ability to connect with another person’s feelings. It has long been known as a key attribute in the Building Report. For some people, this requires typing the “A” personality. Talking too much or being too coercive is the reverse when it comes to developing trust.

Let’s act on this. The following is a simple 3 step guide that will help you build trust. In your customer, COI and potential relationships:

  1. Make yourself a game by putting yourself in the place of others. Whether it is your spouse, children, co-workers, friends or neighbors – it will be good practice and open your eyes to the effect these relationships can have. This will help you develop it as a habit, leaving you all set to incorporate this skill into your professional life. Incidentally, you can’t fake it. Either you are trying to see reality as the other person or you are not. Its all about them. And people love it when it’s about them.
  2. Take empathy to the next level. When people know that you understand how they feel and genuinely care about them, they will do almost anything for you. Plus, when you understand how they feel, you’re in a natural position to share how you feel. It is a key element in emotional attachment.
  3. Get involved in activities that activate oxytocin. Whenever you make someone feel good on the inside, you activate oxytocin and instinctively make them feel good about you. You can do this by making a personal phone call to check in, sending a small personalized gift, taking a client or COI to a social lunch or dinner, or simply engaging in any act of kindness directed toward them.

It has been my experience in my over 40 years of coaching financial advisors that there is a tendency to overlook soft skills, not fully understand their importance and thus not to prioritize them. That’s why I continue to frame this type of message around neuroscience as providing complete validation of its power—the science behind it. Forty years ago the message was there, but not the science.

Now the science is there for everyone to see that, aptly, it builds trust, improves relationships—and for financial advisors—will raise AUM.

Matt Ochsley is the author of Building a successful 21st century financial practice: Attracting, serving and retaining affluent clients,

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