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Is there enough training on soft skills?

This article is part of
Guide to adviser soft skills

But he admits that the sector more generally does tend to avoid these interpersonal skills and probably focuses “too much” on the technical side. In fact, a lack of training devoted to enhancing adviser soft skills might be down to industry attitudes.

Mixed response

Mr Hegarty acknowledges when the New Model Business Academy runs sessions on these types of skills, he does get some negative feedback.

“On the whole, I’d say 80 per cent of the advisers that attend those meetings see them as being very positive, they’re very open minded and very flexible about the opportunities to improve themselves in terms of interpersonal skills. 

“But I’d say there are still a number of advisers that attend those meetings and they don’t really understand the benefits of focusing and improving on those soft skills. They think they either can’t improve those skills or they don’t need to improve those skills.”

He points out: “Actually, it’s those who accept they are not the finished article – they’re not perfect, that there is still room for improvement – that are the ones who get the most out of those sorts of sessions.”

In recognition of the growing importance of and emphasis on advisers’ interpersonal skills, the Financial Adviser School launched a standalone soft skills only course for qualified advisers in October 2017.

In the press release, it confirmed the course was for those advisers who “wish to supplement their existing skillset with training in non-technical competencies including customer service, behavioural finance, and building trust with clients”.

Mr Hegarty believes there is a gap though when it comes to training, particularly for those who are just starting out as financial advisers.

He harks back to the days when there were more large financial advice businesses which could afford to send their advisers on training away days.

“There are a few larger advice firms and organisations that remain, but most of those have disappeared and now we see a lot of smaller businesses that have a small number of people within them,” he admits. 

“What they could do is hire a trainer and get someone to come in and run a session for the day. But I think that could be very expensive for a small firm and I don’t know if they see the importance of it.