IFA  

Guide to adviser soft skills

  • Learn what soft skills are, why it is important for advisers to have them and how to use them in client interactions.
  • Consider whether there is enough available training on soft skills for new and experienced advisers.
  • Understand how to use social media in financial planning to engage with existing and potential clients.
CPD
Approx.60min
Guide to adviser soft skills

Introduction

The skills advisers need to possess in order to be most effective at their job range from financial qualifications and technical knowledge through to softer skills which enable them to relate to their clients.

These soft skills are often the most important, many in the industry argue, yet they are so commonly overlooked by advisers themselves.

One of the reasons for this is the profession tends to attract those with competent interpersonal skills anyway but complacency can also kick in.

Tom Hegarty, managing director at New Model Business Academy explains: “A lot of advisers think they don’t need to improve because they’re good with people and their clients come back to them so they don’t need to do a great deal more.

“It’s really about the industry and organisations like ourselves making advisers understand you can improve those skills and you should.”

Jason Butler, financial wellbeing expert and speaker, believes any firm which only focuses on its advisers’ technical abilities and qualifications will be at a serious disadvantage.

This applies to advisers of all ages – not just those starting out for the first time as an adviser but also those who have been in their job for many years.

As Mr Butler puts it: “Younger people often lack the important interpersonal skills so important in delivering personal advice, whether by phone, video or in person, and older people often have bad habits and have never had any formal training.

"Therefore, improving communication and empathy skills is an essential investment that every firm must make.”

There is training available which focuses solely on interpersonal skills, but is there enough and is it getting to the right people?

This guide considers why soft skills are so important for advisers to have as part of their skillset, and how they can put these to practical use in meetings with clients.

It also looks at how advisers can use social media to humanise the financial adviser and what pitfalls to avoid in doing so.

This guide is worth an indicative 60 minutes of CPD.

Contributors to this guide: Philip Hanley, director and independent financial adviser at Philip James Financial Services; Tom Hegarty, managing director at New Model Business Academy; Darren Smith, head of the Financial Adviser School; Steve Martin, director of The Financial Planning Training Academy; Claire Walsh, chartered financial planner at Aspect 8 Financial Planning; Marie Calvin, national academy manager at 1825; Bill McManus, director of strategic markets at Hartford Funds; Jason Butler, financial wellbeing speaker; Samuel Leach, director of Samuel and Co Trading; Putnam Investments' Advisers are social report; and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Ellie Duncan is deputy content plus editor at FTAdviser

In this guide

CPD
Approx.60min

Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

  1. Mr Hegarty says soft skills are only one of the many talents advisers need, listing three others. Which is the odd one out?

  2. Mr Smith says money is an emotive subject and people need to be certain their financial future is what?

  3. Mr Hegarty notes of the advisers who attend meetings/training about soft skills run by the NMBA, what percentage see them as being positive?

  4. Is the following statement from Ms Walsh true or false? "I think qualifications and technical aptitude should be a given, but I think the softer skills are what mark you out."

  5. According to research from Putnam Investments, which of the social media sites is the "primary network" among advisers?

  6. Mr Smith says social media can be a useful tool for advisers as it allows them the opportunity to do four things but which of these is the odd one out?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • Learn what soft skills are, why it is important for advisers to have them and how to use them in client interactions.
  • Consider whether there is enough available training on soft skills for new and experienced advisers.
  • Understand how to use social media in financial planning to engage with existing and potential clients.

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