Letter: Hard technology can never match soft skills

Darren Laverty

With the average age of advisers hovering at around 55, I would argue that the time has come for companies across the sector to look at recruiting new blood.

Our industry has faced real pressures over the last few years, and demand for our services is beginning to outstrip the supply – in part due to the dwindling adviser numbers. The advice gap has grown wider and the main beneficiaries of RDR are generally cash rich or time poor.

Technology is driving information to people at ever-increasing rates of speed and ease through apps and 4G data downloads. This momentum is chipping away at the time-saving element and benefit of engaging with an adviser.

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However, the one thing that cannot be delivered by technology is trust. Advisers today are required to obtain the highest levels of knowledge, and rightly so. But clients rarely check those credentials – they are a given. What clients look for is something that is currently impossible to deliver digitally. Trust is more of an art than a science, and more emotion than logic. The most successful advisers are the ones who will become spectacular at achieving a high level of client trust quickly with the effective use of soft skills.

Our industry is based around building strong relationships – human connections are key. The adviser of the future needs to know his stuff but, ultimately, he needs to focus on building those trusted relationships; helping his clients build for the future and achieve their lifestyle objectives.

I think it is definitely time for the industry to bring in new blood. My advice to anyone who will be graduating in the next few years would be to look at a career in financial advice, but do not over-obsess with learning every technical detail. Learn the soft skills. The sales techniques delivered with integrity, presentation skills, rapport building skills, awareness through reading body language. In the years to come, they will be a rare commodity and will set the adviser who has mastered these skills apart from the rest.

Darren Laverty

Sales and marketing director

Foster Denovo