Van Kampen American Capital is touting a new marketing system that it says will help investment advisers increase their business by better understanding their clients' personalities.
The system, dubbed "Nine Lives of the Affluent," is built around the idea that clients with at least $250,000 to invest come in nine personality types. They include "family stewards," the largest group, "investment phobics," "moguls," and "gamblers."
Knowing which personality type they are dealing with helps brokers tailor their approach, according to Van Kampen, which is training brokers at about a dozen distributors, including banks such as Chase Manhattan Corp.
Van Kampen suggests different approaches to connect with different personality types. For instance, with "anonymous" investors-who are ultra- private about their financial dealings-brokers are advised to spend time describing their company's security procedures.
For "moguls," brokers should "show that you think their accomplishments are significant," and "set up choices for the client; don't question their decisions," according to a sales manual.
Van Kampen is looking at "past or potential sales" in choosing which distributors should be teach the approach, said Jack Zimmerman, president of Van Kampen American Capital Distributors.
That way the company is assured of getting a good return on its training investment, Mr. Zimmerman said.
Executives of the Chicago-based company who recently held a media briefing on the marketing system were accompanied by Lisa L. Kirschenbaum, a financial consultant with Chase Investment Services Corp., who said the approach has made her better at her job.
She recounted that she was recently talking with a client when she realized he fit the "anonymous" category. With that, she adjusted her approach.
"He saw me finally relating to him on his level," she said.
Van Kampen's new marketing system, which is one of many from a company with a strong heritage in the sales training arena, appears to be one of the most sophisticated of its kind, said James Overholt, a consultant with Milliman & Robertson Inc., Chicago, and the former head of Great Western Financial Corp.'s brokerage unit.
But he cautioned that the art of persuasion must be accompanied by a careful assessment of clients' financial needs.
"This is a sales technique aimed at the emotional side of investors," Mr. Overholt said. "That's okay, provided it's balanced with a real assessment of their needs."