EI the key to client relationships

Planners have taken to social media to emphasise the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) in client relationships, with some indicating softer skills can enhance referrals and “uplift” the reputation of financial planning.

Planners risk not performing as well as they could if they don’t relate to their clients’ personal circumstances and instead rely purely on their technical skills, Anne Graham, principal and financial adviser at McPhail HLG Financial Planning, told ifa.

“To me it would be more of a transaction-based arrangement if you don’t get that EI as part of your skill set,” she said.

“If someone’s got an emotional connection with you they’re more inclined to work with you longer and to be an advocate because there’s that link. They know you’re not after them [for fees].”

Graham said that while many planners do leverage their EI, it’s a skill set that could be improved. She also said that, broadly speaking, experienced advisers may be “more comfortable” with using EI.

In addition, women are generally more open about the emotional factors of their relationship with a client, according to Graham, although she stresses many male advisers have EI capabilities too.

Deborah Kent, director and financial planner at Integra Financial Services and chair of the Association of Financial Advisers’ (AFA’s) ‘Inspire’ initiative, emphasised the importance of an empathetic approach to client relationships.

“EI is something that I believe a lot of female advisers have... having these skills certainly enables you to respond to your client and get the best outcomes,” Kent told ifa.

The comments followed a discussion on LinkedIn which began after Graham posted an article written by Daniel Goleman, co-director of Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organisations.

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