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How Covid has made soft skills essential

This article is part of
Guide to intergenerational wealth tools

“This risk is that money being lost later when it passes down. This can be through non-verbal as much as verbal communication.”

Getting past the screen

But showing off these soft skills can be tricky when communicating through a screen or on a phone, which we have seen the rise of during the pandemic.

The PFS’s Lord says meeting for the first time virtually makes it harder to build a rapport early on, and Morris says he finds it hard to connect.

“I tend to gesture more to get my point across. This is to make up for more subtle body language being easily missed compared to when you meet in person. And while eye contact is still important, it’s more difficult to connect in the same way on a video call,” Morris admits.

But Pashley argues the soft skills required for online meetings are not more difficult but are just simply different.

He explains: “Looking at the camera gives your client the illusion of eye-contact, which can be particularly impactful when presenting, while actually looking at the client on the screen gives the illusion that the adviser is looking away from the client. 

“Looking at the camera can feel very unnatural at first, and a careful balance needs to be struck between the two to enable an effective presentation while being able to read the client’s body language and facial expressions.”

Dominic James Murray, chief executive and independent financial advisor at Cameron James, found remote calls can make the advice process easier as clients feel more relaxed in their own settings, something which helps with intergenerational planning.

“We actually find many clients feel very relaxed on a Zoom call as they are sitting in the comfort of the home or the kitchen in a space which they are familiar with,” he says.

“We encourage our clients to involve their children in their financial and pension planning. Perhaps not every meeting but maybe once a year or once every few years. 

“Unfortunately, many clients are still unwilling or feel uncomfortable sharing their net worth or assets with their children. This is understandable, but when they are placing those children often as 100 per cent beneficiaries it is surprising that it is not more of an open conversation.”

Post-pandemic the profession must strive to bolster their soft skills, particularly those new advisers who may now have more experience of conducting meetings virtually, Lord warns.

“Particularly in relation to intergenerational wealth it is important that planners are cognisant of the different needs of their different client demographics and can apply their soft skills to best effect when doing so,” Lord adds.