David MacDonald of macsimize explains why training, and especially a focus on soft skills and individuals’ needs, is integral to help wealth managers stand out and deliver the right service to clients.
Date: Oct 2010
This is because it is incumbent on any wealth manager to get to know their industry, and the markets and products within it, he explained. And also to be able to have credible conversations with their clients about market trends, as well as being able to position client portfolios and allocate assets.
One particular area of training which MacDonald said is often seen as secondary in importance to technical knowledge, however, is in relation to behavioural change and soft skills – from basic communication to building better relationships with clients.
While market and product knowledge are areas where most advisers can get to a set level, he said they are more likely to differentiate what they can offer to clients through the nature of the engagement rather than simply better technical know-how.
For example, it is important to help clients think about old ideas and new ways, or new ideas that they might not have yet considered.
This is all down to soft skills, said MacDonald, to probe the thinking and understanding of clients and help them focus on how they have done things in the past, and how they might do them in the future.
How to make training effective
From experiences that MacDonald has gained working with various wealth management organisations, as well as knowing what training and development happens in more mature markets, he said that there needs to be more of a focus in Asia on organisations taking a more detailed and individual-specific approach to training-needs analysis.
Firms should better understand the existing strengths and development needs of private bankers, he explained.
If an organisation has a clear plan of how it wants to invest its training dollars, MacDonald said this will help it train the right people on the right things to help them develop, rather than adopting a broad approach where teams of bankers are sent on the same skills workshop, regardless of their experience.
A structured and consistent effort
According to MacDonald, a problem arises from the fact that many companies in all sectors often view training as a one-off, or ad-hoc, event.
However, training should be a continuous process, he said, with the objective of getting people to constantly look to raise the standards and learn and apply new skills – as well as refresh old skills.
This can be done through a variety of approaches, said MacDonald, but a key way is through on-the-job coaching and supervision.
In more mature wealth management markets, there is greater emphasis on this, with personal development and action plans a key part of the process, he explained. This can often lead to a more robust set of training solutions being delivered to individuals and across the business, as well as it being more meaningful to those people being trained.