Advisers: Rethink your presence

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Clients’ attitudes are changing, and so are the qualities that they are looking for in an adviser.

A recently released AFA Whitepaper, "The Trusted Adviser", highlights the need for many advisers to rethink their entire presence according to Philip Kewin, Zurich’s general manager of Retail, Life and Investments.

Kewin says that many advisers continue to make their technical skills and qualifications the central focus of their marketing materials, but they should ensure these points reinforce their ‘bedside manner’ or emotional intelligence (EQ).

“A quick scan of adviser websites reveals a distinct cookie cutter approach, with the vast majority of homepages emphasising advisers’ technical skills and suite of services, often using industry jargon”, said Kewin. “The research proves they should instead be focussing on revealing more about themselves; why they do what they do, and what their outside interests are.”

This approach can also improve the efficiency in relationship building, by allowing clients to quickly get a sense of what ‘makes an adviser tick’, he said.

Kewin recommends that advisers use social media and videos on their websites to demonstrate their soft skills.

Kristine Wade, head of retail sales at Zurich, says interpersonal skills can be hard to measure, but advisers should try to look at them the same way as technical skills.

“Regardless of how good you think your soft skills are, you need to ensure you continue to develop them. And you can do this through attending professional development events and participating in education programs – just as you would to continue building your technical skills,” said Wade. 

Here are some tips from the Whitepaper, to help advisers understand their clients’ needs:

  • If you don’t agree with something the client has said, ask yourself the following questions; ‘Why does he believe this?’ ‘Where is he coming from?’ ‘What has happened to cause him to think this?’
  • Ask open-ended questions or questions that require more than a yes or no response. These types of questions stop you from prejudging and force you to hear what the client has to say in their own words
  • Paraphrase what the client has said to make sure you have understood
  • Focus on both personal and financial aspects, including at reviews
  • Take as much time as necessary
  • Focus on defining the problem, not guessing the solution
  • Quote your clients in SoAs

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