Long ReadJan 3 2023

Advisers should not underestimate the value of soft skills

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Advisers should not underestimate the value of soft skills
Photo: Christina Morillo/Pexels

Good advisers that have been in the profession for 30 years have that skill set. They have always been able to have that empathy; it enabled them to retain their clients and be successful. Everyone needs that skill set now.Adviser quote from NextWealth/FundsNetwork report.

Around the time we were working on the report for Fidelity Adviser Solutions, PortfolioMetrix was exploring the importance of defining the value of advice. In a survey it released from its report, which 194 advisers completed, soft skills scored the highest and ranked in the top three:

  • ‘Empathy’ was top, with 76 per cent of respondents including it in their top five.
  • ‘Understanding a client’s life goals’ was second, with 49 per cent of the votes.
  • ‘Simplify’ and ‘Peace of mind’ were joint third, with 47 per cent of the votes.

Other elements that scored highly included:

  • Building a personalised plan (41 per cent)
  • Consistency and continuity (39 per cent) 
  • Behavioural coaching (36 per cent) 

The best advisers aren’t the most technical. They don’t know the textbook inside out. They are able to sit down and have a basic conversation without overcomplicating issues.Adviser quote from NextWealth/Fidelity Adviser Solutions report.

Defining value to clients

With increasing pressure from direct digital routes to investment solutions and ‘advice’, plus the new consumer duty regulation, financial advice professionals would benefit from communicating with clients that they offer far more than technical solutions.

The human element should never be taken for granted – something that is often lacking when automation takes centre stage.

Anyone who has ever tried to call major corporations such as utility or telecommunications companies will know how frustrating it is to have to hang on the telephone for what seems like an age to be able to speak to a real person – if that option is even available (artificial intelligence is making online ‘bots’ increasingly common).

A good suggestion was made by PortfolioMetrix in its report: "It’s worth considering surveying clients to assess what they perceive as value from the relationship".

This can be very useful for flagging areas that could be strengthened and can act as a timely reminder that clients have a personal service with their needs at its heart available for when they require it.


Finally, our report for Fidelity Adviser Solutions highlighted that thought needs to be given to the qualifications required when searching for new recruits to a firm.

There are the obvious ones, relating to numeracy and business management, but it is interesting that psychology is also listed.