Simon Goldthorpe, joint executive chairman at Beaufort Group outlines six key facets of a good adviser in today’s ever-evolving market. How many can you tick off the list?
What was the first thing you bought from Amazon? If like me, you remember the days when it was one of the few online bookshops, the chances are it was the latest bestseller that introduced you to Jeff Bezos’s business.
Now think about the last thing you bought. These days it could be almost anything, from tomato ketchup to the latest games console – and you may not have even opened the app since a talking piece of tech in your kitchen can place the order for you.
In many ways, financial advice has seen the same evolution. A decade ago, a client would call into the office to undertake a transaction – perhaps taking out a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or another investment – you would make the arrangements and take the fee, and the client would go home happy with the outcome.
These days, however, advisers must be much more than transactional sellers if they are to be successful. By offering a significantly wider range of services, most have developed much deeper relationships, often acting like their clients’ own Alexa when it comes to answering questions around financial planning.
There are a handful of key traits that make a successful modern financial adviser.
A good collaborator
Professional advice is now more interconnected than ever. Most clients are likely to be working closely with their financial adviser as well as a couple of other professionals, such as an accountant and solicitor.
In today’s market, it’s hard to be successful in your own bubble. Clients are increasingly looking for a one-stop shop, and so it’s worth building a network of trusted connections you can work with to offer a full spectrum of services.
A good listener
When a client starts talking, it’s easy to make immediate judgements about how you can help them.
Those who can genuinely sit back and listen, develop much more meaningful relationships with clients. It’s vital to be able to listen to someone’s problems, goals and aspirations, using the right mix of emotional intelligence and financial knowledge to give the recommendations that best suit their individual circumstances.
As more and more automated services come to market, and robo-advice becomes more common, this ability to listen is going to prove an ever more crucial way for financial advisers to differentiate themselves and add measurable value.
Creative in communication
In uncertain times like these, maintaining clients’ trust and staying in regular contact becomes even more important.
Regular meetings are essential, but it’s worth thinking about other ways to engage and provide insight on the issues affecting their finances, such as penning regular updates and blogs on topical issues.
While most advisers have been connecting with clients through video conferencing over the past few months, it’s an ideal time to look at other ways to enhance their experience, such as using a system that enables them to schedule meetings online.
Social media savvy
Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. Done well, it can be a powerful tool for your business, helping you raise your profile online and stay connected with existing clients and connections.
In addition, sites like LinkedIn provide a great means to ‘research’ prospects before a meeting. It’s a good example of how social media can be used to enhance your sales technique.
Transparency and honesty
For many, the key issue when engaging with a financial adviser is transparency, particularly when it comes to fees.
In today’s market, it’s essential to be seen as transparent and honest, with a service that justifies the fees being charged. For some, this will mean making an effort to communicate the value of financial advice. Others may decide to add a fees page to their website so it’s clear that there are no hidden charges.
Therapy and counselling
An increasingly important part of the adviser’s role is to be a sounding board for clients, listening to their concerns and tackling any unconscious biases head-on. Sometimes you will find that the right option is to do nothing, but it’s your job to explain this and advise clients against making knee-jerk reactions that could damage their financial future.
Those advisers who hone and harness these skills will put themselves in the best possible position to thrive in an ever-changing market.
Simon Goldthorpe is joint executive chairman at Beaufort Group
This article was previously published on Professionaladviser.com