Exact numbers inspire trust among clients

Sep 15, 2013 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Clients may have more confidence in financial advisers who use precise numbers, rather than those who round them up or down, new research from the University of California, Los Angeles suggests.

People who use more-specific numbers — such as citing a 6.4% return instead of a 6% return — are judged to be more reliable sources and are more likely to be tapped by others for advice, according to a recent study co-written by Danny Oppenheimer, associate professor of marketing and psychology at UCLA.

“For advisers, if you give more-precise estimates, people will think you are more confident in your decisions and may be more inclined to trust you,” Mr. Oppenheimer said.

Most previous research on what conveys confidence focused on physical cues, such as eye contact, posture and whether one makes nervous gestures. This research suggests that specificity with numbers as a confidence booster works even when the information is delivered through written forms of communication.


“So much more communication is happening today in ways that people don't have normal cues,” Mr. Oppenheimer said, noting the increased importance of e-mail and social media in business.

In the first part of the study, 187 undergraduates were asked to read 10 questions and estimate the confidence level of the person who had answered each one. The answers all involved numbers, but some offered precise measures, such as “2,611 miles,” while others gave imprecise answers such as “2,600 miles.”

Participants judged those who answered with more-specific digits to be more confident, Mr. Oppenheimer said.


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Featured video


The #MeToo movement and the financial advice industry

Attendees at the Women to Watch luncheon commend the #MeToo movement for raising awareness about the issue of sexual harassment and bringing women together.

Latest news & opinion

SEC forging ahead on fiduciary rule despite DOL rule decision in 5th Circuit

Chairman Jay Clayton says 'the sooner the better' when asked when an SEC fiduciary rule will be ready.

What the next market downturn means for small RIAs

Firms that have enjoyed AUM growth because of the runup in stocks may find it hard to adjust to declining revenues if the market suffers a major correction.

DOL fiduciary rule likely to live on despite appeals court loss

Future developments will hinge on whether the Labor Department continues the fight to remake the regulation its own way.

DOL fiduciary rule: Industry reacts to Fifth Circuit ruling

Groups on both sides of the fiduciary debate had plenty to say.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacates DOL fiduciary rule

In split decision, judges say agency exceeded authority.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print