This advisory firm is tapping into the instinctual behavior of clients to help them reach financial goals using the Kolbe Index.

Kolbe offers tests tied to their indexes, which assess behavior and provide insight into an individual’s communication and information processing preferences. Kristen LeClair, who co-founded the advisory firm 994 Group with her husband, Ted, in Austin, Tex., uses the results to tailor their approach when engaging clients.

They both are certified Kolbe consultants. Kolbe indexes have been around for decades and have had their share of supporters and critics. Some employers use them to determine if individuals are good fits for jobs.

Some advisors have used Kolbe indexes, but many have no experience with them, LeClair explained.

“It's helpful not only for us, but clients with spouses or partners who have different communications styles.  For example, if one spouse is a ‘bottom line’ kind of person, we can bullet point out the details,” she said.  “For the other spouse who needs the telephone-book version of information, we can send information in advance so they have time to process.  In this scenario, the spouse who needs all of the information might feel like the other spouse doesn't care or isn't engaged.  Understanding these preferences helps us also bridge the communication gap between the spouses.”

The Kolbe A index is a 36-question assessment that clients can complete quickly. The assessment asks that participants choose their most and least likely behaviors in given scenarios. The index then tabulates the results and identifies the participant’s instinctive method of operation and offers tips to maximize those strengths.

“One thing we know about money for sure is that it is a very emotionally charged subject. For example, about 50 percent of marriages that end in divorce, end because of money issues. The Kolbe index helps us better understand people, how they work, and the communication they will be most receptive to,” she added.

The husband-and-wife advisor team has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. For years, the two spoke about launching an independent firm. Their prior roles were travel-intensive and both agreed that quality time and flexibility were priorities for them, so last fall they decided to finally “pull the trigger,” LeClair said.

The firm charges clients an asset-based fee, which is the same regardless of whether or not a third party is being used. The firm offers investment management services through Dimensional funds, mainly because of its academic approach to broad market investments and low costs, she added.

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