Emotional Intelligence: A Game-Changing Quality for Advisors

Published April 7, 2022 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Written by: The Zoe Team

Emotional Intelligence: A Game-Changing Quality for Advisors

Published April 7, 2022 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Written by: The Zoe Team

Emotional intelligence is a key quality for wealth advisors to have. If you have it, you should strengthen it. If you don’t, you should definitely start developing it.

If you Google “EQ wealth advisor”, you get at least 24 million results! That’s the same number of people in the entire country of Australia! Isn’t that mind-blowing? That is an unbelievable amount of information for just one topic. 

As a wealth advisor, it is particularly important for you to develop your EQ (emotional intelligence). Why? Just like financial expert Ramit Sethi says, money is an emotional topic, as is any other important thing in our lives.  

The emotions rooted behind money come from the (false) idea that a person’s worth is defined by how wealthy they are. The more money you have, the more resources you can provide for your loved ones, and the more valuable you are as a person. That said, it is only human for wealth to be directly correlated to emotions. After all, the more wealth you have the greater fear you have of losing it.  

I’m sure you don’t need us to tell you that money goes way beyond math operations, but there are a few areas to highlight to clarify the deeper issue:

  • In math problems, there is only one way to go and one right answer. With money decisions, that is not the case: you can get to the same outcome through many different paths, and external factors constantly affect how things go. 
  • Once you get to the answer to the equation, you are done. With money, things are far from being this linear. As life changes, wealth also changes. This means your financial goal checklist is always growing and evolving. 
  • Math is not triggered by emotions, while wealth is. Throughout the whole process of wealth management, people are dealing with a lot of emotions. It is very likely that the trigger to start thinking about this topic in the first place was fear. Fear of not making the right decisions and losing what defines “their worth.” 

HOW A WEALTH ADVISOR’S ROLE IS CRUCIAL

As a wealth advisor, emotions cannot catch you off guard. If you don’t manage your clients’ (and your own) emotions, they will manage you. Here are some tips for you to prepare for dealing with these situations in an assertive manner.

1. Identify your clients’ money mindset

The way people relate to wealth is highly correlated to the interactions they have had with it. How their families and culture approach money, what privileges or shortcomings they have faced, and how openly they have spoken about it will have a lot to do with how they execute on their emotions when it comes to money. 

As a wealth advisor, a great starting point is knowing what you can expect and uncovering the unexpected. To do so, the best approach is to ask thought-provoking questions. 

This will lead you to uncover some behavior drivers. Think about it this way: if you don’t know what your clients’ biggest fears in regards to money are, you are not there yet. Here are a few questions to ask to start creating an idea of how they relate to money on an emotional level. 

  • What is the first money memory you have with your family?
  • How did your family or community address (or avoid) money conversations?
  • What has been the hardest money decision you have had to make? 
  • As a child, were you aware of your family’s financial situation? 
  • How involved have you been in your family’s money decisions? 
  • What money decision are you most proud of? 

2. Talk WITH them, not TO them

Emotions + lack of knowledge + lack of support = a dangerous combination! 

While we have already established how fear and anxiety are some of the most common emotions awakened by wealth, it’s not all negative. There are also a few positive emotions that may be tied to money. 

Understanding wealth and how each money decision can impact your long-term goals can be joyous. It will make people feel confident and accomplished. As a wealth advisor, that is your goal: to help your clients increase the positive and decrease the negative emotions about their money. 

Take the time to explain to them what is happening in plain English. Allow them to ask questions and make sure they are understanding where they stand today. Prompt an open dialogue in regards to where they want to go and how to make it happen with very clear, achievable next steps. 

You cannot remove the emotions from the equation, but you can certainly mitigate the lack of knowledge and lack of support.

3. Balance your hard and soft skills 

Let’s say you have a client who is concerned about the Ukraine-Russia tensions and how this may (or may not) affect their investments. It is normal for them to feel anxious about it. However, you’re the expert in the room. You know it’s not ideal for them to make decisions out of fear, uncertainty, or pressure.

How can you deal with this situation? Here is where your EQ will shine! Find the right balance between your hard and soft skills to calm your clients and help them stay the course. 

Share facts and historical insights that will help them understand the full picture and neutralize their emotions for a moment. Having great content to share with your clients has proven to be a great value add for advisors in the Zoe Network. 

There is a social misconception that if you have all the factual information, you will have all the tools to make the right decision. While data is very important, people should not solely rely on it to choose what to do (or not). 

Factoring in emotions is also an important part of being able to address this situation properly. So… do it! Remind your clients about their goals and the why behind the whole plan you have been working on. Also, emphasize how they are not alone and how you are on top of the matters to get things accomplished. 

4. Reading matters 

An important part of emotional intelligence depends on social and communication skills. While there are several ways to develop these, neuroscience studies have shown that reading can lead to an increase in emotional intelligence. 

The main reason for this is that reading the right type of content (literary fiction, according to social psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York City) will expand your brainpower by activating areas and neural connections that relate to social interactions and critical thinking. 

Knowing this, putting it into practice, and encouraging your clients to do it as well, will raise “empathy and social perception – skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read somebody’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking,” just like reported by The New York Times.

How EQ Can Help You Stand Out

Not only is EQ (Emotional Intelligence for Advisors) a part of the interpersonal cluster of the CFP® Board’s Financial Planning Competency Framework, but in practice, it will be key to building trust and empathy with your clients. Studies show that the most important contributor to clients getting an additional return when they have an advisor is behavioral coaching. 

After all, as an advisor, you are not only the wealth management subject expert. You’re also meant to protect your clients from themselves and their emotions. It’s unlikely you will make as much progress with your clients focusing solely on the numbers or exclusively on the emotions. Lean into this skill and work to improve it yourself through conversations, questions, and reading. Helping your clients embrace the emotions they have around their money will improve your effectiveness, increasing the stickiness of the relationship overall. 

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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