Whilst many young advisers are now degree-qualified, they are seeking more support in the use of soft skills to develop relationships with clients, according to Hans Egger, co-creator of the AstuteWheel.
“There is a knowledge gap surrounding soft skills in young advisers as they complete their Paraplanning apprenticeship and seek to gain client-facing experience. These soft skills need to be both learned and applied,” Mr Egger said.
“The AstuteWheel helps advisers bridge the gap in this knowledge and educates them on how to demonstrate value to clients in their advice process.”
Mr Egger said whilst the tool was in the development stage he worked with young planners to identify specific needs and uncover gaps in terms of relating their technical knowledge to the needs of the client.
Joe Stephan, CFP and director of Stephan Strategic said the AstuteWheel has helped him make the most of both the client’s time and his own.
“One of the things that has been inherent in the financial planning industry is taking down facts and figures in meetings which does my head in,” he said. “Collecting facts and figures doesn’t help us engage our clients and doesn’t build trust. One of the things AstuteWheel has really helped us with is the collection of data prior to the meeting. When the client comes in, we can learn about them and start to really understand what strategies would work.”
Mr Stephan said this puts Stephan Strategic on the front foot before the client steps into their office. “It steers our thinking and means that in the initial meeting we have more time to speak about things such as life values, goals and objectives and what makes a client tick. These are the things that improve rapport and improve our ability to give good advice.”
Mr Stephan said the results to the bottom line of the business were visible. “It has improved our business and improved our engagement with our clients,” he said.
Matt Leech, financial adviser at Incite Wealth says efficiency is the key in the AstuteWheel. “I cut 25 minutes from my initial meetings with clients and can now spend the time looking at exactly where the client wants to be,” he says. “I am formulating better plans for my clients as now I have their financial health check and fact-find in front of me before the client steps into my office; I am more prepared.”
Mr Leech also said his referral sources can now see exactly what he does before referring clients. “The referral sources can actually look at the AstuteWheel and see how we add value; now they have something to show the client when making their referral and in turn more clients are coming to see me.”
Since launch on 1 June 2012, more than 300 financial advisers across 130 financial advice practices representing over 40 different dealer groups have subscribed to the AstuteWheel.
Mr Egger developed the AstuteWheel to overcome client engagement problems. Launched with the support of industry marketing specialist and business partner, Michael Topper, the AstuteWheel includes a standardised suite of innovative marketing, pre-engagement and education tools, as well as over 20 strategy financial planning modelling calculators, video emails, five-minute financial health checks, online fact finds and a plain English presentation What is financial planning?. Together these tools help advisers explain the value of advice to clients.