“Soft” SkillsGrowing in Importance for Wealth Managers
Before the economic collapse of 2008, many people relied on wealth managers and financial advisors to maximize their investments and effectively leverage their money to ensure lasting financial stability. Because the average person may not fully understand all of the factors that go into successfully managing a portfolio, the primary concern when choosing a financial professional was technical proficiency. The more an advisor knew, and the greater his or her success rate in making clients money, the more likely a prospective investor would engage his or her services.
But after the collapse, the issue of trust moved to the forefront. While understanding the technical aspects of markets, investments and the foundations of finance are still vital for a practicing portfolio manager, most professionals are discovering they need to work harder to gain the trust of their clients. It’s no longer enough to simply know what you’re doing – your clients have to feel confident that you’ll do what’s best for them.
Many wealth managers are revising their approach to working with clients and seeking new skills to help them more effectively meet the requirements of the new financial landscape. These so-called “soft skills” are proving vital to gaining clients’ trust and building long-lasting relationships, which can lead to higher profits for all.
Listen to Your Clients
There’s a saying that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” That’s not to say that wealth managers are uncaring or not compassionate, but there has been a trend toward decision making geared for maximizing results rather than truly meeting a client’s best interests.
However, successful managers and advisors note that much of their success is built upon relationships and that listening is a key piece of the relationship puzzle. By listening to your client and their goals, concerns and questions, you’ll be better able to solve their problems and develop a strategy that everyone can be comfortable with. For example, you might think that you have the ideal solution for a couple nearing retirement, but by engaging them in conversation, you might learn that one of them was recently diagnosed with a particular disease, and thus your ideas might need some tweaking. Taking time to talk with your clients and listening carefully to what they say – and what they really mean – can help you gain their trust and build a more effective relationship.
Understand Who Influences Your Clients
The “typical” investor profile is changing, and successful advisors need to be more nimble in understanding who their clients are and what they expect – as well as who is influencing those investors. In the past, younger investors, for instance, might simply work with the same wealth manager as their parents. However, it’s not uncommon for millennialsto express frustration with those relationships as they make millennials feel misunderstood. Women, also, are wealthier and savvier than ever before, but often find that wealth managers do not understand or cater to their unique needs and concerns.
Today’s successful financial professional needs to develop an understanding of every client’s unique demographic characteristics, and work to create plans and strategies to meet their needs. Understand that each group is influenced by different factors – younger investors are less likely to be influenced by older generations, for example – and that your plans need to fall in line with these new expectations.
Know What Your Clients Value
Another aspect of relating to your clients is understanding what they value and what they are willing to pay for. Most investors today value communication and transparency, given the major losses of a few years ago, and want to know that they can access their manager and their data at any time. This means developing new reporting mechanisms, improving mobile or digital access to data and being available to offer general advice and assistance when needed. Your clients want to know what is happening with their money, and it’s your job to determine exactly how to share that information with them in a way that makes them feel more confident and comfortable with you on their team.
The financial services industry is in a state of great change, brought on by economic recovery, technological advancements, regulatory changes and a shift in the public’s perception of wealth managers. Technical proficiency is still important, but wealth managers who want to rise to the top of their profession would be well-served to put more emphasis on developing and enhancing their client relationship skills.
About the Author: Maddie Rockwell is a professional blogger on many topics and niches. She has been featured on many different publications, both on and off line. Maddieworks for GuestBloggingNetwork and receives compensation for posting quality articles.
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