Does EQ really matter? And what IS EQ? Is it simply about having good "people skills"? Or is it more than that? And is it worth working on and perfecting these skills?
Our firm recently concluded our first Forum, collaborating with 16 advisors from various firms across the industry to help them further develop and refine their practice and enhance their productivity. This was a year-long Forum in which the group came together once per month to focus on specific skills and tactics in 4 key areas that, when mastered, would make a significant impact on their practice.
- Technical Knowledge (IQ)
- Sales and Relationship Management Skills (EQ)
- Financial Planning (DQ)
- Practice Management (PQ)
At the conclusion of the program, we asked each advisor to share with the group what they most got out of the program, how they've seen these outcomes impact their practice and productivity, what they wanted to continue working on to further enhance their practice, and what they want in terms of coaching and support to continue their development journey.
So, what did they tell us?
While so many advisors in the industry focus on being increasingly intelligent in wealth planning and investment strategies (the IQ of our business), this group resoundingly concluded that the EQ skills were the most important and that the development of these skills is having the most significant impact on their productivity and the value they deliver to their clients and prospects.
What exactly is EQ for a wealth professional?
To best answer this question, consider the following quotes and perspectives they shared about EQ, what it is and the impact it's having on their practice, and how they approach prospects and clients.
- "The most important aspect of EQ I took from this is how I communicate my value. I've always been told to develop a great value proposition about who I am, my firm, and our capabilities and strengths. It seems this topic comes up very early in almost every sales training. But this shift to instead developing a "Client Promise," focusing on the impact we deliver to clients and why we are in business, has been a game-changer for me," further claiming …
- "Developing Discovery skills with better questions has helped me to more deeply understand my clients, which leads to better solutions truly aligned to what the client needs."
- "Developing my ability to ask great questions to motivate the client to think more deeply about the key issues they must address and why it's important to address them has made a huge difference for me."
- "This whole thing about engaging clients with a purity of intent, e.g., focused on serving the client rather than on selling something, and becoming a better listener in my client meetings, has increased my value and credibility with my clients."
The EQ Impact
This group of advisors conveyed that their work on these EQ skills is helping to drive tangible outcomes in their practice, including:
- Deepening trust and loyalty with current clients leads to expanding relationships with additional assets.
- Increased sales and revenue, primarily because "I'm able to better connect with prospects and clients and have them see I am sincerely interested in them and most importantly understanding them."
- An increase in referrals both from clients as well as internal partners and COIs "due to enhanced credibility and their confidence in the value I deliver."
- Increased efficiency – and therefore productivity – in their practice. Specifically with prospects and their ability to deliver immediate value in the sales process and decrease the number of calls to close.
As the wealth management industry has continued to grow and mature, IQ – the specialized acumen around wealth planning strategies and investments – has increasingly become commoditized. Now that's not to say IQ is not important; it is. But no longer can it truly differentiate an advisor, a team, or a firm on its own. Clients have a baseline expectation that they will be working with intelligent people. What grabs their attention is intelligent people who dig deeper to understand them and their unique situation (beyond the standard "what are your goals" or "what keeps you up at night" conversation), do so purely with the client's interests in mind, and then apply their expertise in a clear and intentional way to help them achieve their unique goals and priorities. This is EQ. And it's increasingly a key point of differentiation.
Which begs the question…
How are you (or your firm) supporting and honing the EQ skills vital to differentiating with prospects and clients?
Based on our first-hand experience with these advisors, we suggest it's a question worth answering!
If you would like more information on how Greene Consulting is helping firms and advisors develop EQ skills or about our next Forum, which will be starting in the coming months, click here for a link to the Advisor Forum Overview.
If you would like to speak with someone please contact Rick Swygman at firstname.lastname@example.org.