In times of market uncertainty, like now, the role of the advisor becomes more important than ever. There’s a lot speculation flying around about the possible impacts of Donald Trump’s victory on the Canadian economy and most investors find it difficult to channel out the noise of the frenzied mass media. It’s important for advisors to understand how volatile conditions impact their clients and how uncertain markets lead different investors to behave in different ways. Managing difficult situations well is a great way for advisors to differentiate themselves from the crowd and build their businesses.
“It’s important for advisors to hear what exactly a client is uncertain about; what’s at stake in their mind?” says Susan Bradley, CFP professional of 20 years and founder of the Sudden Money Institute. “An advisor can’t make the assumption that they understand their clients’ stress. One client might feel like their child’s wellbeing is at stake, others may feel that their tax bill is at stake, another might feel like their religion is at stake. You have to be able to really understand your clients, and you can’t do that unless you ask questions and know how to listen.”
Although all advisors should be fully educated on the technical side of investing, many are not exceling on the other equally important factor: the interpersonal side. “We all know the technical side is important but people do not make decisions based on facts and numbers, they make decisions based on their emotions,” Bradley says. “Decision making implementation, buying investments, being happy about what you have – that all happens on the personal side. The stuff of life all happens on the personal side, not the technical.”
When Bradley was making her way in the industry in the 80s, everything about financial advice was focused on technical knowhow. A personable advisor who possessed all of the adequate market knowledge would have a good chance of building a successful practice. “Someday it will seem ludicrous that we ever thought we could do a good job by just knowing the technical side,” Bradley says. “There is a lot of complexity that twirls around and it’s not as simple as being a good person and having the knowledge."
Bradley’s Sudden Money Institute
provides training that aims to equip advisors with the tools needed to manage the human dynamics of financial change and market complexity. But in which areas does she think advisors need most guidance? “Listening and being comfortable with uncertainty,” Bradley says. “We teach advisors processes and tools to help them stay present when nobody knows the answer. We teach with the aim of supporting advisors to become more confident in their human interactions, instead of copping out and just being the deliverer of facts and technology.”
Bradley also thinks it’s imperative for advisors to discuss with their clients the most efficient and suitable way in which to communicate. “What is it going to take for the client to have a comfortable, productive meeting experience: is it face-time? Do they like talking about the bottom line first? Or, do they like visual overviews?” Bradley says. “There are lots of different things to consider. Advisors should also find out how clients like to make decisions. Some people want to make decisions on the spot and others want to go home with the information and think about it.”
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