Is there enough training on soft skills?

This article is part of
Guide to adviser soft skills

Is there enough training on soft skills?

If soft skills are so vital to being an effective financial adviser then it makes sense for the industry to offer sufficient training.

This could be training for those just starting out as advisers who want to know how to develop and start using these interpersonal skills, or it could be courses which help those who have been financial advisers for years but who are keen to brush up on their skills.

Marie Calvin, 1825 national academy manager, explains 1825 has “several layers of support” available to its financial planners:

  • A regional supervision team who provide our team with coaching and feedback.
  • People development support via the 1825 Academy, which offers structured support exclusively for the 1825 financial planning firms on a range of subjects.
  • We also offer additional skills and knowledge courses and provide access to online resources through our preferred learning partners and these are in addition to those who access regular CPD via external examination bodies.

There are also some organisations and individuals who are well-known in the industry for providing training courses.

The Kinder approach

The Kinder Institute is one of these, offering workshops, intensive training and consulting services to financial advisers with a focus on what founder George Kinder calls “the human side of financial planning”.

Mr Kinder says: “Our signature training is a five-day training of a five-phase process. Its acronym is Evoke – each letter standing for a stage of the process.  

“For a sizable client, each letter stands for a meeting with a particular purpose, delivery and consequence. The phases are E for exploration, V for vision, O for obstacles, K for knowledge and E for execution.

“During the training, each adviser partners with another throughout. They life plan each other. So each adviser leaves with the exhilaration of their own life plan, as well as the skills and implementable process of a business. There are typically three to four trainers and 12 participants.”

He lists a series of benefits he believes his approach, Life Planning, delivers for advisers who take the course, including:

  • Far more referrals.
  • Clients for life.
  • Closing clients in the first meeting.
  • Much greater happiness, vitality and excitement for both the client and adviser.
  • Much more trust and ease during times of market collapse.

Not all advisers will have the available time or money to spend on a five-day course, however. Samuel Leach, director of Samuel and Co Trading, argues team events are "considerably more valuable than rigid training courses" when it comes to soft skills.

He explains: "They enable team members to share their strengths and apply them to their colleagues, creating a level of job and workplace specific personalisation that an external party would be incapable of achieving. This comes with the additional benefit of building bonds between employees."

Industry recognition

In which case, there are plenty of wider industry events which run individual sessions covering soft skills, which may be easier to incorporate into a working week.

Claire Walsh, chartered financial planner at Aspect 8 Financial Planning, observes there is much more training related to soft skills at conferences now than there used to be and that these are sessions she tends to gravitate towards.

“At New Model Business Academy we’ve always seen the importance of soft skills for advisers,” claims Tom Hegarty, managing director at the Academy.

“What we’ve done is incorporated soft skills and developing interpersonal skills into our events and communications programme for our members. 

“So, for example, at the Business Evolution Forums, which is a round of events that we do throughout the year, we always include at least one soft skills session which is run by a training organisation which enables advisers to brush up on their interpersonal skills. And we link that in with the technical knowledge that’s needed, and the regulatory bits and the business skills.”