The Five Soft Skills Financial Advisors Must Have to Succeed
The development of excellent soft skills is crucial to your success as a financial advisor.
You can find technical knowledge in any book, but practical knowledge involves ‘being’ rather than ‘knowing’, ‘practicing’ rather than ‘being taught’. Soft skills are absorbed through years of experience.
To develop great soft skills, practice them every day, hone them and never give up the quest for perfection.
Here are five essential soft skills Financial Advisors must master in order to succeed in the industry.
1. Simplify your message
Keeping it simple isn’t as easy as it sounds and many advisors find this difficult at first but it’s an important skill to have. Investors gravitate to people who can communicate in a language they can understand. Use too much jargon and you will lose your clients’ interest and they will drift away from you. And, remember, talking numbers puts people to sleep.
Don’t try to impress people by illustrating your greater knowledge. Brilliant ideas alone won’t get you anywhere. Lucidity instead, is the holy grail of financial advisors.
Clients are not looking for in-depth information. They don’t want to hear about stocks and numbers. They are looking for someone they like and trust. Tell them so they understand. Make the light go on for them, make them feel smart and they will warm to you.
2. Be likeable and enthusiastic
People do business with people they find attractive and interesting – people who can motivate them to take action, people they want to hang out with. Charismatic people exude confidence – they have what Jane Austen would term ‘easy manners’.
Your success as an advisor will be down to whether you become memorable for your potential clients because of your charisma.
If you don’t yet feel you have ‘it’, don’t worry. There are techniques you can practice. Have a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact. Never talk down to people. Always convey a modest demeanor. Be sincere and confident. If you practice these skills, you too can enjoy that special ‘je ne sais quoi’ that will make people want to do business with you.
3. Reveal your character
When you sit down with clients it’s a job interview. So what will get you the job? Put simply it’s down to whether clients like you, trust you and feel you’re offering them a great solution.
If you can articulate who you are, and what you do you will win clients.
Learn to tell stories – especially your own story. Potential clients are weighing up whether they want to do business with you – and what it says on your business card won’t help them make up their mind.
A great ‘who I am’ story will make people connect with you emotionally. You will no longer be a stranger to them, but someone they can empathize with and trust. They are interested in where you grew up, if you have kids, and whether they perceive you to be on their side. Trigger their emotions and get them to act.
4. Make yourself understood through analogies
Analogies help to paint powerful images that leave a lasting impression. They are a great way to connect with clients. You don’t need to be a gifted storyteller to develop this communication skill, you simply need to put in some preparation and plenty of practice.
Analogies enable you to get across the importance of acquiring sound financial advice: Impress upon clients that your services are akin to those of a “family doctor”. Analogies can also illustrate why clients need to stick to the plan – “changing lanes never pays off”, or to get them to understand the importance of investing as soon as possible.
Spend time every week improving how you tell stories and analogies. If you hear a great story or analogy write it down. Take notice of the stories that appear to resonate the most with clients and stick with them.
5. Listen to your clients
By listening intently to your clients you are sending out a strong message: That you find them interesting. And when people think you find them interesting they will like you.
Listening is an often underrated skill, but an essential one for financial advisors. It’s your job to give someone potentially life-changing financial advice. So how can you do this without understanding everything there is to know about that person? This information can only come your way if you listen to them.
No one ever learnt a thing about life by talking. Talk when you need to – otherwise, ask questions and listen. Let clients feel safe to ask you questions and allow enough time for clients to digest information – only then can you focus on what your clients’ needs and goals are.
The job of a financial advisor requires a high degree of technical knowledge, as well as top caliber ‘people’ skills. In order to succeed in this competitive industry, you must practice your soft skills until they become second nature. Work hard, persevere and you will achieve success.