What’s In A Name?

Tropical Storm Fred hit Florida on Monday bringing rain, flooding and even tornadoes across the Southeast.

I don’t know about you, but “Fred” seems like a rather weak name for a storm. But I suppose it’s more menacing than “Hurricane Barney.”

Scientists have long studied human tendencies to name things.  For example, knights often named their swords, and sailors have given names to ships for over a thousand years. As Macquarie University linguistics professor Ingrid Piller explains. “You name the vessel because it becomes your most important companion. You want to believe it has a vested interest in keeping you safe—even though it truly has no interests at all.”

The tradition of naming transportation vehicles continues into the 21st century. A nationwide poll from a few years back found that 25% of car owners gave their vehicle a name.

Another reason for ascribing names to objects is to make them more explainable or predictable.  As David Allen shared in a recent podcast, “When things we’ve allowed into our inner and outer world are appropriately and accurately identified and labeled, we feel curiously freed from them and simultaneously more in control of them.”

Financial advisors and planners can bring a similar feeling of control and confidence to their clients by naming their meetings, processes and more.

For example, an “Introductory Conversation” sounds much more purposeful than, “Let’s get together for some coffee.” Similarly, a client has a clearer understanding of what’s likely to happen at a “Discovery meeting” as opposed to “our first appointment.” And when you ask your team to set up a New Client Welcome call, they should know exactly what that covers.

If you develop and manage discretionary portfolios for your clients, consider how you can add a sense of style and purpose by referring to your models as “Core Value,” “Dividend Growth,” or “Rising Stars.”

You’ll find that by naming your process, the steps you follow, and the portfolios you manage, you communicate that you have created something with a defined framework that stands on its own merit. You’ll have more confidence, and your clients will too!

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