Home Financial consultant Chris Budd: What customers really want…is it you?

Chris Budd: What customers really want…is it you?

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My daughter has just started her career in financial planning. His training journey to become a paraplanner, or perhaps a counselor, is one that will be familiar to most if not all of you reading this.

But is it a path that will produce the kind of advice the public wants?

The Initiative for Financial Wellness (IFW) conducts research with Aegon on what customers want. This makes for extremely interesting reading.

Personal financial advice?

The survey was completed by approximately 900 people who currently have counsellors. They were asked a number of questions about what they appreciate about their adviser and what they would expect to be asked about.

Eight out of 10 chose the option “Helps me discover what my future self might want and need”

One question asked what was important in the advice they receive from their IFA. A whopping 92% of respondents chose: “Helps me avoid typical investor mistakes (like buying and selling at the wrong time)”.

Eight out of 10 chose the option “Helps me discover what my future self might want and need” to this same question.

And 62% said they would prefer an advisor who focuses on their broader financial well-being over one who focuses on portfolio and wealth maximization.

The best financial advisors?

What do clients really get from financial advisors?

The exams you need to become a licensed adviser, which most advisers obtain through the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), are almost exclusively technical.

But the key skills needed to give clients what they want, such as effective listening and questioning (what we might call “soft skills”), are barely addressed by the ICN curriculum.

What do clients really get from financial advisors?

Organizations such as NextGen are trying to fill the void, with their excellent training contract. At the IFW, we also have the Financial Well-Being Certificate. And Quiver Management has been managing skills coaching for advisors for many years now.

Financial Advice Rules

So it covers what customers want, what is mandatory and what training is available. What about that other behavioral factor – compliance?

Recently, I was shown a training needs analysis form template provided to a company by a compliance consultant. It was very long, covering every aspect of technical and compliance issues I could imagine.

There were, however, two omissions.

First, there was no single entry for what we might call interpersonal skills. Nothing to do with what customers say they want, as our survey revealed.

Training courses and conferences are voluntary. It’s crazy, it’s up to you if you learn to offer what customers want

Second, there was no space for the individual to make their own suggestions. So, even if someone wanted to improve their interpersonal skills, there would be no way to tell, according to this compliance-oriented approach.

The irony is that listening to a customer and truly understanding their wants and needs can only produce better results for the customer.

Train yourself!

Training courses and conferences are voluntary. It’s crazy, it’s up to you if you learn to offer what customers want.

This I urge you to do. The technical training you need to get is, of course, essential (well, most of it is!). This, however, is far from being the whole story.

Make sure you get training on what customers want, not just the technical part.

Chris Budd is President of the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing (IFW) whose annual conference is in May