January 4, 2023

Becoming a Knowledge-Driven Financial Advisor

The Key to Building Long-Term Relationships with Clients

Germaine Phua
Associate Director @ Great Eastern Financial Advisors
Germaine Phua

Have you ever engaged in a discussion with a financial advisor or salesperson who seemed to care solely about promoting their service or product, paying little attention to your needs or interests? It can be annoying, I imagine.

Knowledge driven financial advisors

Consider the following scenario:

You seek advice from a financial advisor on your retirement.

While using jargon and technical terminologies that you don't understand, the advisor goes into a speech promoting their newest investment product instead of asking about your objectives and wants.

You attempt to ask a few questions, but they appear more focused on closing the deal than assisting you in reaching an informed choice. Eventually, you feel upset and frustrated and question if the advisor was paying any attention to you.

This type of sales pitch might be successful in the short term, but likely ineffective in the long run. Financial advisors and salespeople risk offending and annoying their clients when they are entirely concerned with promoting their goods or services.

There's no real value to the client since the main aim is simply to make a quick sale and move on to the next. They commit the mistake of focusing on their own goals rather than that of the client.

How Being Knowledge-Driven Can Become Your Advantage

Knowledge-driven financial advisors, on the other hand, adopt a different strategy. They are aware that educating their clients is the key to establishing lasting connections. They take the time to understand their client’s requirements by asking relevant questions, listening, and taking notes. They may then give customised recommendations that significantly improve their clients' financial positions. In the end, this contributes to the development of client trust and confidence and distinguishes them from counterparts who could be more concerned with making a quick sale.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett (source: Investopedia)

Being knowledge-driven has advantages for professionals across many industries, not just those in the financial advisory business. One of the greatest investors of all time, Warren Buffet, is renowned for his comprehensive understanding of the financial markets and his capacity to make wise long-term investment choices. He is a voracious reader too, and it is well-known that he reads and researches for many hours every day. The success of Buffet as an investor may be attributed in large part to his extensive knowledge and understanding.

Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo (source: Michael Buckner for Variety)

Another successful, knowledge-driven professional, is Dr Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising consultant and author. She is known for her deep knowledge and understanding of how to create functional, organised spaces. She has encouraged many individuals to live a more minimalist and orderly lifestyle and has assisted countless in rearranging and decluttering their homes and workplaces. Her story serves as an example of how being knowledge-driven can have a positive impact on the world. Continuous learning, regardless of industry, can help make the world better because we can better comprehend situations.

Tips to Start Being Knowledge-Driven

So, how can we become knowledge-driven financial advisors? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Attend courses and workshops regularly

These can be in-person or online and can cover a wide range of topics relevant to our field. This is a great way to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with industry developments.

Read widely

Consider expanding and reading books and articles on relevant areas like psychology, economics, and business in addition to financial magazines and industry news. This can help us improve our ability to understand the needs of our clients.

Keep up with technology

As technology continues to evolve, it's important to stay on top of new tools and platforms that can help us to be more efficient and effective in our work. Spend time to learn and experiment.

Network and seek mentorship

Building relationships with other professionals in our field can be a great way to learn and stay up-to-date. Consider joining professional associations or seeking out your mentor who can provide guidance and support as we continue to grow and develop as financial advisors.

As a director leading a team of associates in the financial advisory industry, I strongly believe in being knowledge-driven. In my experience, this is the best way to avoid the stigma that often surrounds financial advisors who are seen as pushy or only interested in making a sale.

Giving a speech (Germaine Phua - Great Eastern Financial Advisor )
Germaine's team make it a point to learn together regularly!

In my team, we focus on having genuine conversations with our clients with the hopes to improve their financial lives. To do this, we prioritise staying up-to-date with the latest knowledge and skills in our field. We frequently come together as a team to attend workshops and seminars and make an effort to learn about topics that may not be directly related to the financial industry.

Team building - Germaine Phua - Great Eastern Financial Advisors
Recent team bonding event took Germaine and her team on a trip down Singapore's history

For example, recently we had a team bonding event that brought us to the museum to learn about the history of Singapore. It may have been outside our work as financial advisors, but it was an excellent opportunity to learn and bond as a team. And to be honest, we all enjoyed it!

On my own, reading and watching informative videos have been a great way to acquire more knowledge. I recently read the book "To Sell Is Human" by Daniel H. Pink and I have to say, it was an eye-opening read for me as a financial advisor. One thing that stood out to me was the importance of empathy and likability in selling. The book emphasises the need to connect with customers on a human level and build trust through genuine interest and concern for their needs.

It is easy for financial advisors to get sucked into hard selling without taking the time to understand clients’ objectives. Reading this book brought to mind once again how important it is for me to have solid relationships. My goal is to assist clients, through open and honest communication, to make sound financial decisions that are appropriate for themselves.

As Confucius once said, "Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous." This quote captures the importance of combining learning with critical thinking to truly understand and apply new knowledge.

So, to all my fellow financial advisors and aspiring financial advisors to be out there, I encourage you to make a commitment to lifelong learning and strive to be knowledge-driven in all that you do.

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