By Andy & Hunter Lord
Digital interactions may be on the rise, but prospects and clients are demanding more meaningful human connections than ever before. According to a 2020 MDRT study, 85% of Americans would be more likely to trust recommendations from human advisors who demonstrate emotional intelligence, or EQ.
While clients know financial advisors can give them expert financial advice, they’re also searching for someone to trust. With this in mind, we can leverage EQ to become part of our clients’ major life decisions, leading them more effectively toward financial success.
What Is EQ?
EQ stands for emotional quotient, or the ability to understand feelings and utilize them to communicate effectively. The key to EQ is listening – it’s far more important that clients feel heard and understood than for it is for advisors to squeeze every ounce of potentially relevant information into their meetings.
Our clients should be well-informed about taxes, retirement and other financial needs, but achieving this requires advisors to listen to their needs first. Don’t let your IQ get in the way of your EQ and neglect the opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
Every advisor has heard the fear in a client’s voice as they ask a question, the excitement as they share about their family, or the wandering eye that denotes boredom. Noticing these cues is the first step toward demonstrating EQ. Next, advisors must learn how to effectively navigate these moments so they can become their clients’ effective, trusted advocate.
After meeting with a client, there are two questions we reflect on:
1. What would you repeat if you had the meeting again?
2. What would you change if you were able to do the meeting over?
In our practice, we conduct many of our meetings as a team, which provides the benefit of being able to reflect together on how the meeting went and analyze the client’s body language. We may gently let our colleagues know that they could have spent more time listening to a client’s story and less time describing regulations. Most of the time, the notes we have for each other after focus primarily with the way information was presented, rather than the information itself.
Gaining these EQ skills takes practice and experience – fortunately, there is a wealth of educational material on the topic from organizations like MDRT. Advisors should also trade stories and questions with their professional networks to learn new ideas. Find examples that can guide you to making your clients feel heard and understood beyond their financial assets.
great example of successfully leveraging emotional intelligence is a client who has been with our practice for more than 25 years. At first, this client was difficult to work with – they were disengaged in planning and did not take suggestions well, seemingly lacking trust.
At a meeting in their office, after asking for a copy of a professional photo of the client and their family that was hanging on the wall so our team understood who we were doing all this work for, it became clear that something clicked. The request was met with an embrace from the client, who said, “That’s what I love about you, you know what I’m all about.”
As we continue to grow in this profession, we will only continue to need more emotional intelligence. By implementing this knowledge, your clients will have more productive meetings with you and will be more willing to act on financial advice. Take the time to listen to your client and let your EQ lead the conversation instead of your IQ.
About the Authors
Andrew Lord, CLU, ChFC, is the founding and managing partner of Essential Planning, a registered advisory firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Andrew is a 20-year MDRT member as well as a sought-after speaker for financial conferences around the world.
Hunter Lord has been in financial advising since 2017, starting his career in Brisbane, Australia and has been working at Essential Planning alongside Andrew since 2019.