Collecting information from your client to establish a trusted contact person (TCP) may be easier if you use behavioural techniques, new research finds.
On Monday, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) published OSC Staff Notice 11-790, Protecting Aging Investors through Behavioural Insights. The research report was prepared by BEworks, a Toronto-based behavioural economics consultancy, and it reflects the OSC’s seniors strategy to protect older and vulnerable investors.
The research found that a TCP form designed using behavioural techniques resulted in a 23% increase in the likelihood that a client would appoint a TCP.
“If this finding occurs in the real world, nearly one out of every five investors may appoint a trusted contact person because of the behavioural elements of this form,” the report said.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Securities Administrators proposed amendments that included requiring firms and advisors to take reasonable steps to obtain from clients the name and contact information of a TCP, as well as the client’s written consent to contact the TCP in certain circumstances, such as when concerns arise about financial exploitation or mental capacity.
The research found that the most successful TCP form contained three elements from behavioural science: a de-biasing statement informing the client of the likelihood of being a victim of financial exploitation, a statement saying most people support the concept of a TCP, and an active choice to appoint a TCP (i.e., requiring the client to check a box indicating their decision to appoint a TCP or not).
Together, the three elements overcame potential biases against appointing a TCP and promoted positive behaviour toward doing so.
For example, regarding active choice, the report said the element encouraged clients to take action while still preserving autonomy. The tactic has been used to increase organ donation rates and enrolment in retirement savings plans.
The report also noted active choice can trigger regret aversion, prompting the client to comply to avoid the negative feeling of regret.
In addition to the behavioural techniques, the research found that information about the TCP role should be provided to clients in a clear, simple way.
The commission encouraged registrants to review the findings of the report and consider them when designing their policies and procedures.
The findings may also help address concerns in comment letters about how best to present the concept of TCPs to clients.