Investigating the influence of thinking styles on the sales performance of South African financial advisors
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The financial industry is frequently confronted with the challenge of an unusually high turnover among financial advisers in this industry. The industry has changed drastically since the enactment of various legislation that strictly regulates the industry. This change has an impact on the role of financial advisors. Furthermore, the remuneration of financial advisers is mostly commission-generating. When their productivity declines, this is usually accompanied by a decrease in income. Their production is also usually influenced by the economic conditions in the country. Previous research has shown that one of the main reasons for high turnover among financial advisors is related to their lack of sustainable income. This study, therefore, focuses on assessing whether the thinking styles of financial advisors influence their sales performance. The targeted sample consisted of all financial advisors in the North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, in a selected financial services organisation. The sample contained 252 individuals (n = 252) and a purposive sampling strategy was used to select the research participants. The thinking styles of the financial advisors were assessed using the Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI™). The objective performance data included the following monthly information per financial advisor: number of insurance policies issued, total commission earned and total sales performance achieved measured in score. The general objective of the study was to determine whether thinking styles are a predictor of financial advisors’ sales performance. A quantitative research approach was followed to investigate the influence of financial advisers’ preferred thinking styles on their sales performance. A cross-sectional analysis was done, where all the data was collected at one point in time. The researcher then compiled a descriptive study to accurately describe the relationships between the independent variables (thinking styles) and the dependent variables (sales performance). The data was analysed by means of Bayesian statistics. The researcher found some evidence to support a negative relationship between R2 thinking style preferences and sales performance of financial advisors. Therefore, the results showed an inverse relationship between financial advisors with a preference for thinking styles associated with interaction, sensitivities, as well as those who were more service-minded and have a preference for empathy for others and sales performance. Moreover, results from this study revealed a positive relationship between L2 thinking processes and the sales performance of advisors. The results therefore showed that financial advisors with a stronger preference for the thinking styles associated with discipline, order, following of rules and regulations, planning and systems show a greater predictor of sales performance. These advisors also earned higher commission than their colleagues. Furthermore, evidence was found to support a relationship between advisors’ tenure and sales performance.