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5 must-have soft skills for intermediaries in 2022

30 November 2021 SanlamConnect
Thuthuka Gumede, Regional General Manager: Gauteng South at SanlamConnect

Thuthuka Gumede, Regional General Manager: Gauteng South at SanlamConnect

Within the next four years, 50% of employees worldwide will need reskilling. With the fourth industrial revolution already changing how we work, South African advisers and brokers are going to have to be savvy to stay afloat.

As the year draws to a close, there is some light at the end of the pandemic-induced tunnel. When the world closed 18 months ago, Zoom was something we associated with a camera, and relationship-building meant meeting face to face. The post-pandemic world that we are edging towards will require the adoption and honing of a new set of soft skills. According to Thuthuka Gumede, Regional General Manager: Gauteng South, SanlamConnect, these are the five key skills that intermediaries will need to hone going into 2022.

“In this climate, a strong arsenal of soft skills is essential. Emotional intelligence is more important than ever before, as we navigate the new and steer our way through relationship-building in a world of digital ubiquity. Intermediaries’ businesses are built on forging lasting connections with clients. We need to ask ourselves: how do we reach people at the right time, in the right way,” says Gumede.

Here are some of the most important soft skills for 2022:

Genuine engagements aimed at building relationships

A handshake, body language and eye contact. In the time before the pandemic, all those things were crucial items in an adviser’s relationship building toolkit. In the age of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, being good at those is simply not enough.

“From the way we prospect, to the way we engage with clients and vice versa, the pandemic has necessitated that we operate in a very different manner. This means that the way we build relationships must change, if intermediaries want to continue to provide top-tier service to our clients and in turn grow their businesses,” explains Gumede.

Technological Skills:

While it may not be necessary to be able to code like the owner of a tech start-up in Silicon Valley, being the person who cannot mute or unmute themselves on a call won’t cut it. Intermediaries need to learn to be open and flexible enough to use various communication applications that their clients may want to use. “Having technological skills is critical and adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy won’t work. You have a multitude of clients who want to engage with you in whatever way feels best to them. Some use Zoom and others use Microsoft Teams. Some may use both or other platforms altogether. So, the key is to gear one’s business in a way that is beneficial to all parties,” says Gumede.

Business Development:

Learning how to build your business in this day and age is a significantly more complex task than it was in the past. For many years, the way an adviser or a broker prospected clients was quite different to what it is today. Combine that with legislation like POPIA, which changes the way you contact clients, and you find yourself having to answer too many questions that you wouldn’t have had to in the past.

“You will need to ask yourself how to develop your business in innovative ways that would address the needs of clients and build your brokerage. Segmenting your client-base and working on your value proposition,” says Gumede.

Continuous Active Learning:

The world is constantly evolving and those who do not evolve with it fade away. In order to keep up, advisers need to make sure that they are continuously plugged into what is happening in the industry and augmenting their existing skill set.

Coaching:

Being a financial planner is about a lot more than being able to crunch numbers. With financial literacy being a sensitive topic for many South Africans, advisers must be able to communicate deftly and empathetically with their clients. More and more, intermediaries will play the role of empathetic coach, as well as providing a holistic financial plan.

Job losses and retrenchments have left many South Africans feeling helpless and not knowing if they have any advantageous options left. As an intermediary, having the ability to help coach clients and give them favourable options is a powerful trust building tool.

“Many people are not just anxious about the future, but also about how they will make it through the present moment. This therefore calls on intermediaries to be able to communicate with and coach their clients, without causing feelings of fear or shame,” says Gumede.

Gumede concludes: “This skill, above almost all of the others, will be the one that helps to develop trust. A client that trusts you is one that will be more likely to benefit from your advice and be more open to future sales opportunities.”

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