Why the Best Financial Advisers Are Also Good Listeners

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Good Listeners

Being good listeners is an important quality for a financial adviser to have, and it’s, therefore, a quality you should look for when finding financial advisers. 

Listening is a difficult skill to acquire, particularly for individuals who are extraverted, confident, and used to providing advice as part of their job. If you think about the recruitment requirements for financial advisers, this list of characteristics almost reads like a list of useful traits for the job that any employer would value. 

You’ll find that financial advisers have these traits because they are recruited in this way, and also because they may have a natural inclination to share wisdom and ‘convince’ their client that they have the expertise and knowledge to take care of their investments. 

It sounds insecure to say, but many advisers will feel this need to ‘prove themselves’ in the initial meeting and in subsequent meetings with each client, for fear of the client decided that they would be better off taking their money elsewhere. 

Somewhat paradoxically, the solution to this is building a great rapport, and building a great rapport requires a two-way conversation with meaningful information flowing both ways. 

If a client doesn’t feel like they are being listened to, they could jump to a few different conclusions. Here are some thoughts or feelings that a client could consider if their salesperson is not a Good Listeners

  1. My adviser is just a salesperson who wants to sell me a product. It feels like they are ‘forcing’ their views upon me by not allowing me to get a word in edgeways. The hard sell vibe is giving me the impression that the product does not stand on its own merits and requires a barrage of sales techniques to sell it. 
  2. My adviser is not listening to my concerns, and therefore the investment plan they create may not respond to my fears and worries about investing. These worries are the primary reason why I sought financial advice in the first place, therefore if I feel like they are not being addressed, I will not have the confidence to approve the final investment plan. 
  3. My adviser is not interested in me as a person, nor do they see this as a long term relationship. Therefore they must be driven by sales commissions or internal business targets. This means that their advice might not be true in my best interests and could be designed to increase their salary or income. My financial well being is not my adviser’s number one priority. 

Each of these different conclusions is absolutely damning and it would be the worst nightmare of any financial adviser for their clients to develop these types of beliefs. 

And yet – you will recognize how naturally they follow a one-sided conversation involving little more than the financial adviser ‘talking at’ the client. 

The benefits of being a Good Listeners

As well as avoiding the relationship getting off to bad start, there are plenty of positive benefits to being Good Listeners when giving advice. 

  • Active listening will lead to a more detailed understanding of the client’s needs and present situation. This will ultimately lead to a better and more tailored investment plan which suits their needs and foresees any likely hiccups that might otherwise derail a well-intentioned plan. 
  • Active listening could lead to a warmer, more natural rapport, and a stronger relationship. The stronger the relationship, and the more a client enjoys the company of the adviser, the happier they will be to seek advice in the future. This could lead to more meetings, more advice, and happier working life. After all, if you could choose between holding meetings with people you like, and meetings with a tense or cold tone, which would you choose?

Overall, it is clear that listening well carries many benefits, and active listening could be the best tool to ensure that a new client relationship (particularly a first-time advice receiver) gets off to a healthy start. 

How to improve your active listening skills

Being Good Listeners is about focusing your senses fully on the other person, particularly your senses of sight and sound. 

  1. Sight: Are you picking up on body language, expressions, and other visual cues?
  2. Sound: Are you focusing on their words and their tone of voice?

Using each of these senses allows us to build a much deeper understanding of the other person’s intention, attitude, and mood. These factors allow us to filter out the actual words being spoken, and understand the underlying truth of what they mean. 

In many cultures, we do not always say what we mean. A bad listener, who is merely waiting impatiently for the next opportunity to speak, may fail to pick up on several cues which indicate that the ‘surface level’ meaning of what is being said is not congruent with the underlying meaning. 

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This means that in their desire to say something that they feel is important, they may miss a crucial piece of information, which in turn could lead to the financial adviser providing poor quality advice. 

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