Skill gap for young gun advisers

Wealth Professional
March 6, 2014 AEST

Young advisers are facing a soft skill knowledge gap which sees many attempt to ‘baffle the client with brilliance’ rather than listen at the first sit-down meeting, says an experienced financial planner.

Hans Egger, the co-creator of financial planning software firm AstuteWheel, noticed a knowledge gap among young advisers who had great technical skills but were badly lacking soft skills.

“We ran focus groups with financial planners of various ages and identified that this was going to be a problem prevalent in the industry,” he told Wealth Professional. “People that came into this industry 20 years ago were people that mostly wanted to enter life insurance and were given lots of training on sales, and how to have conversations with clients. These soft skills were just as important as product knowledge.”

However, nowadays typically people pick up a degree or a diploma in financial planning, and work as a paraplanner as their first job out of university, Egger said.

Because of this, a fledgling adviser may be in their mid to late 20s before they finally sit in front of a client, and nowhere in that journey have they been taught the skills needed to build a valued relationship with the client.

“The lucky ones have had some transition with the financial adviser they’re working with, but others are thrown in the deep end,” Egger said. “Instead of listening to the client they’re too busy thinking about what they’re going to say and end up trying to baffle the client with brilliance.”

The AstuteWheel, which includes a suite of marketing, pre-engagement and education tools, as well as a plethora of strategy modelling calculators, video emails, and health checks; is designed to bridge this knowledge gap and prepare advisers for face-to-face relationships.

Up-and-coming advisers can follow the six-step model to gain the skills and support needed to add value to their clients, from pre-meeting preparation, to payment structure.

A big part of the process is explaining the journey to the clients so the relationship can be ongoing and not just a transaction.

“A client that understands how a strategy works is far more likely to say ‘yes, I agree to proceed’,” Egger said. “The young advisers are the ones embracing this far more quickly, because if you are going out there own your own trying to set up a practice, [without support] it can overwhelming.”

Young advisers have other advantages in that their technical knowledge is outstanding, and they can use modelling software with ease, he said.

By adding soft skills into the mix, the young guns will be giving their older counterparts a run for their money.

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