The current debate about training and standards for improving a financial planner’s professionalism seems dominated by what could be termed as technical skills. Sure it’s vital to comply, know your stuff and be abreast of everything from legislation to taxation and markets but there are also softer skills.
The term vulnerability is not one normally associated as a plus for planners although given recent inquiries and headlines some might well feel it. However being ‘exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed either physically or emotionally’ as per the dictionary definition is a quality planners might chose to practice.
The call is contained in some US research and discussed in this current TIME Money story (here) which lists four qualities of the strong leadership a planner should seek to possess.
They are expertise, skill as a guide, deep understanding and vulnerability.
Expertise is described as a wisdom which goes beyond mere knowledge. One might suggest that judgement is another part of the mix.
Skill as a guide means to use that expertise to take the consumer together on the journey to the destination, as they have agreed on, by the route they can accomplish.
Deep understanding relates to listening which is sometimes described as the most important of all leadership skills. It includes the art of asking powerful questions of oneself and the customer and a heart-felt concern for their well-being.
Vulnerability. This might be the least predictable, potentially painful and most useful paradox of leadership qualities. In goes against the grain of many corporate cultures but it’s demonstrable that those who can accept they don’t always get it right actually inspire more trust and confidence from others. Renowned researcher Brene Brown goes into depth on vulnerability in this Ted Talk.
Being comfortable with feeling more vulnerable requires time spent working on your own growth and self-reflection. There are no shortcuts.
So expertise may be taught but the other three qualities depend on experience and insight.
To quote the conclusion to the story: “Anyone who completes the course of study to obtain a financial planning degree has gained only 25% of the necessary skills to become what their clients are looking for in a planner. Someone who adds a degree in counselling conceivably has 50% of the skills.”
This is not to say everyone wants or needs a touchy feely planner but merely to suggest it helps. Formal training and standards only begin the process but they don’t end it.
by Christopher Zinn, Communications & Campaigns Director