It makes sense that what we see can impact our decisions and ultimately our health. A 2015 study1 was conducted to see if the types of foods on a person’s kitchen counter are associated with their body mass index (BMI). The results showed that families who kept cereal or soda out on the counter typically weigh about 20-30 pounds more than families who have only a bowl of fruit on the counter.

It makes me wonder how this might relate to advisors and investors. It’s well documented that investor behavior plays a key role in the success of long-term investing, possibly even a greater role than the investment returns. Have you ever thought about what message the items in your office could be sending to investors?

For example, I would presume that advisors who have stock market news stations on the TV, pictures of Wall Street, books on investing, busts of a bull and bear, etc., may be suggesting that investing means excitement, security selection and market timing — behavioral temptations that often lead to poor long-term results.

On the other hand, an office with pictures of family, travel stations on the TV, lifestyle books, and pictures of a LifeMap might help investors focus on the things they can control and resist the urge to trade and play the stock market “game.”

Look around at what you have out on your “kitchen counter” and whether it is likely to encourage healthy investor behavior and possibly better long-term results.


1“Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity,” Brian Wansink, PhD, Andrew S. Hanks, PhD, and Kirsikka Kaipainen, PhD