What ‘soft skills’ do you need to become a successful financial advisor?
When it comes to financial advisor recruitment, an emphasis is often placed on a candidate’s qualifications and work experience, and understandably so. However, becoming a successful financial advisor requires a lot more than academic achievement and a solid work history.
In actual fact, it is a job role which requires numerous ‘soft skills’ as well; some of which you may already possess, and some of which you may need to work on. Here, we take a look at five of them.
As with any communications-based role, financial advisor jobs require the ability to listen carefully. When dealing with clients, you will need to hear their views and insights, and remember important details. Customers want to feel valued and your listening skills may go a long way towards deciding whether or not they do.
Yet, while good listening means the ability to take in information as you hear it, it can also sometimes require a level of perception, allowing you to interpret hidden meanings, or understand the subtext of what is said.
In addition to listening and taking in information, a level of emotional empathy is an excellent soft skill to possess. Having empathy allows you to understand your clients better – after all, the relationship between advisor and client is a two-way street and you cannot operate as a dictator, telling them what to think or feel.
“A lot of it is about increased awareness,” says Roseanne Roberts, learning and development director at CUSO. “You need to put yourself in the shoes of the client – even if you know the client is wrong – but it needs to be real.”
Verbal skills are important in most customer-facing roles, but when it comes to giving financial advice, your non-verbal communication is also key. This includes adopting an open posture, which helps to establish trust, but also means making eye contact, using hand gestures effectively and even adopting the right facial expressions.
Of course, non-verbal communication is not one-sided and it is also essential to be able to pick up on non-verbal cues from clients as well. Recognising how a client is feeling beyond what they say out loud can help you to determine whether they need further convincing, or whether you need to take a completely different approach.
Another soft skill, which is essential for any successful financial advisor, is the ability to persuade. When providing financial advice, you will often need to introduce new information and it is important to get clients to react positively to it. Moreover, there may be times when you need to change a client’s thinking or behavior, for their benefit.
“Being persuasive involves being a salesperson, as well as a coach, as well as a great facilitator” explains Tony Vidler from Strictly Business Ltd. “Only then can a professional be completely equipped to create the necessary positive changes that clients need.”
Finally, a good financial advisor should be adaptable. Over the course of a working day, you may have to deal with a number of customers from completely different backgrounds, with dramatically different views, aims and capabilities. What works with one customer may not work with others, so you need to be able to tailor your approach.
However, the need for adaptability goes further than that. The financial services industry is tightly regulated and ever-changing. As a result, you may need to adapt to new professional standards, follow new rules, make use of new technology, learn from new research and be open to completely new ways of thinking.