Financial advisors who are struggling to woo clients may want to practice their spiels in front of a video camera, according to a report from Financial Advisor IQ
The article reports that according to studies, speech should be accounted to account for a mere 7%-10% of clients’ impressions of an advisor’s message. That leaves an overwhelming proportion of influence exerted by nonverbal cues – either consciously or unconsciously.
“Advisors tend to be good with numbers,” said Lynn Torgove of Gabriel Communications, “but they often forget that their clients are taking in more than just words.”
Torgove’s firm has been consulted by financial advisors and other finance professionals for more than 15 years, giving her a great appreciation for how important nonverbal components of message delivery can be in the industry. “[How] coordinated and well-thought-out you are in adjusting how you sit and you make hand gestures can go a long way in making sure people are getting physical signals which are consistent with your words,” she said.
The sentiment is not lost on advisor Karen Leech of Wetherby Asset Management, who understands the difference that a positive attitude can make, along with the right facial expressions. “When you’re in listening mode, your expressions are as important as the words you choose,” she said. “Understanding when to show emotion can go a long way towards expressing empathy.”
Even speech patterns can affect client impressions. Millenial-age advisor Bethany Griffith, who works at Abacus Planning Group, learned this when she recognized quirks of her voice inflection when talking with older clients. “I have a tendency to speak too quickly… at such a fast pace that it can be difficult for some people to understand,” she said.
Griffith is also learning to avoid “up-speak” – a vocal habit where one’s voice level goes up at the end of a sentence, which can make statements sound like questions. “I didn’t even realize it – it was just a habit,” she said.
Of course, the only way to overcome habit is through practice, which Torgove emphasizes to her FA students.
“One of our biggest concerns is that we tend to see even the best communicators let their skills decay,” Torgove said. “We tell them to look at mastering nonverbal communications much like becoming an athlete – you’ve got to keep growing and sharpening your skills.”
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