Test How Angry That Retirement Planning Client Really Is

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What You Need to Know

  • Some researchers believe that anger helps consumers optimize the process of making decisions.
  • Angry consumers might buy more quickly and be happier with their purchases.
  • Rising costs and political turmoil give clients plenty of reasons to be angry.

COVID-19, geopolitical turmoil and the gloom hanging over Washington have all contributed to a sour mood in the United States.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate was just 3.6% in March. Prices might be rising, but so are wages.

In spite of those cheerful economic facts, 75% of the U.S. adults who participated in the latest Gallup satisfaction tracking poll, in early March, said they were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States.

Joshua Gritter, a pastor, recently wrote an opinion article for The Presbyterian Outlook with the headline “What to Do With All the Mad That You Feel?”

For insurance and retirement professionals, the response might be: Help clients plan better, faster.

The Fury Factor

Typical financial professionals and their compliance advisors may be wary of consumer anger. But, in some cases, client anger could be helpful.

Michal Maimaran, a researcher at Northwestern University’s business school, and colleagues, looked at the role of anger in consumer decision-making in a paper published by the Journal of Association on Consumer Research in 2019.

Studies have shown that overall, “anger results in both less susceptibility to contextual choice biases and greater post-choice satisfaction,” the researchers contend.

The studies covered address situations such as the effects of seeing pictures of sad, angry or neutral faces on choosing a laptop, and the effects of emotional manipulation of University of Miami students who were asked to choose between two laptops, two flashlights and two restaurants.

The results of those studies and others summarized in the paper imply that “emotional inputs can lead consumers to form their decision criteria in a more goal-driven, top-down fashion rather than in a bottom-up product- or attribute-driven fashion,” Maimaran and her colleagues write.

Anger Benchmarking

Here are questions that could be used to come up with a rough assessment of how angry clients and prospects might be, when compared to the participants in seven recent U.S. consumer, worker and retirement saver surveys.

1. In the past three months, has the client’s level of credit card debt increased?

  • No: 0.
  • Yes: 1.

Organizers of the Primerica Middle-Income Financial Security Monitor survey found that 25% of the 980 online survey participants said their credit card debt had been increasing. The participants were ages 18 and older, with annual household incomes of $30,000 to $100,000.