A consultant well known for producing large-scale advisor coaching programs for wirehouse firms once confided to me that his clients were generally all too willing to pay for “hard skills” training for their advisors.
But it was the “soft skills,” for which they were unwilling to pay, which he said often made the biggest difference in an advisor’s success.
I have often thought of this, and wondered why it is that relatively few consciously seek to marry hard skills to soft ones.
I believe the reason is that we live in a fast-paced business world, where performance is measured in quarterly—often shorter—intervals. Under these circumstances executives are not apt to make decisions that might have long-term benefits but whose immediate payoff is uncertain.
This seems especially true in the financial advisory universe, where brokerage firms focus heavily on sales ideas, product pitches and productivity enhancements. Few would pause to offer training in, say, how to relate to a client like a human being.
Yet this month’s cover story (“How to Become an Advisor of Influence”) essentially boils down to just that. For example, one of the principles that persuasion expert Robert Cialdini invokes in the article is that of authority—that mustering even your strongest arguments will fall flat if you have not first established your trustworthiness.