The D2D Fund, a nonprofit that works with financial institutions to improve opportunities for low-income consumers, has found that people save more money if they can win a prize for doing so. In fact, thanks to the fund’s lobbying efforts, banks in 10 states can now hold raffles and lotteries to encourage savings. But advisors aren’t sure free gifts would encourage their clients to put more aside for retirement or other long-term goals, InvestmentNews reports.
Psychologist and wealth manager Brad Klontz, managing director at Occidental Asset Management in Burlingame, Calif., tells the newspaper a “mountain of evidence” shows human beings respond to positive reinforcement — the equivalent of rewarding an obedient puppy with a treat. So, much as advisors would like to think they can motivate clients without resorting to crude rewards, the fact is rewards work. According to InvestmentNews, Occidental urges clients to save for a short-term pleasure, like a trip, alongside their long-term goals.
Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz/Foldes Financial Wealth Management thinks such carrots can be useful, but in general he gets good results by showing clients the impact of making the wrong financial decisions, he tells InvestmentNews. Similarly, Nick Murray, who has written several books for advisors, thinks fear is a better motivator than greed. “Do you know what would happen to your family financially if you didn’t wake up tomorrow?” is his suggested question for clients who don’t save enough.
Perhaps the most visceral approach comes from Julie Littlechild, head of consulting and research firm Advisor Impact. Littlechild recommends using age-progression software to show clients what they’ll look like after retirement. Visualizing their future selves can help them imagine what they will want and need at that stage of life, she tells the newspaper.