Here are a couple of headlines pulled from the news just this week:
Hot Shot traders used to make millions. Now they’re being replaced by computers.
Artificial intelligence is reshaping Wealth Management
It’s a perfect storm.
New transparency regulations are revealing to clients what they’ve been paying for their financial services. They are looking for cheaper solutions. They expect more for their money.
AI is proving its ability to outperform humans in test after test, and the dominos keep falling. Blockchain is providing the possibility to by-pass big banks altogether.
Financial firms, looking to remain an essential part of the fabric of society, have begun to leverage AI and blockchain themselves. They are aggressively cutting costs. Several reputable studies have projected the job loss in the financial industry from 30 – 50% in the next ten years.
Here’s the good news:
It’ll be a long while before machines and algorithms can come anywhere close to our innately human ability to connect. And our (your clients’) need to connect, will never disappear.
This is where you can stay relevant.
Your certifications and planning ability are no longer sufficient. It’s time to take seriously the need to boost your Emotional Intelligence.
Here’s an encouraging fact:
Although the IQ you were born with never changes, and can’t be increased, your Emotional Intelligence (EI), is elastic. You can continually improve it every day of your life.
Wealth clients expect your expertise, of course. But more than that, they are looking for your ability to deeply understand them. To connect on an emotional level. This is not just a matter of fact-finding questions or being able to make eye contact while you listen.
What’s your reaction to this?
Are you thinking ‘that’s ridiculous!’? ‘This is business. Most of my clients want decent returns and some good tax advice. Business is not the place for touch-feely crap.’
If so, ask yourself:
Can Artificial Intelligence use algorithms to provide decent returns and some good tax advice? In fact, could algorithms provide better returns at a lower cost than you can?
(Yes.) If not now, then very soon.
The game has changed, and so must you.
One of the key ingredients to Emotional Intelligence is Empathy. This means going beyond just understanding with your brain, and actually step into your client’s shoes, to feel what they’re feeling.
If we’re not in the habit of doing this, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are three tips to get you started:
Step out of your comfort zone
Do something, anything, that is way out of your zone of comfort, then observe your feelings. Experience the vulnerability of that. Notice it. Name it for yourself. This will help you develop empathy and compassion.
Put yourself in the minority
If you don’t live the experience of being a minority on a regular basis, it can be almost impossible to be aware of inherent biases you hold. We all have a world view based on our experiences. Unless we examine that lens, we have very little capacity to fully empathize with those who hold a different world view.
Here are some ideas of how to get started:
- Attend an event where everyone speaks a language different from yours
- Go and see movies or plays about a different culture
Talk with people outside your social, gender and economic group
Experiment with this intentionally. Make an overture to talk with people who have more power and affluence than you do. How do you feel? Excited? Aspirational? Embarrassed or small? Notice and name those feelings for yourself.
Talk with people who have less power and money than you. Ask questions and work hard to listen 90% of the time. How do you feel? Powerful? Condescending or pitying? Judgmental? Truly compassionate? Observe yourself and your own biases.
Perhaps reading this, you think ‘why would I bother talking with people who have less money – I am a Wealth Advisor!’.
The purpose of exploring both ends of the spectrum is that we all feel powerless now and then in life. We all feel arrogant and judgmental at certain times or in certain company.
Interacting with people outside our normal circles shines a light on our own biases. Stepping outside our zone of comfort forces us to experience emotions we spend most of our lives avoiding.
Your clients are people, first. No matter how much power or money they have, like you, they all need to feel safe, loved and respected. They want a life of meaning, and to feel truly valued and that they belong.
These are powerful tools to develop empathy, which you can leverage to make a deeper connection with your clients.
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Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.