As banks and financial advisory firms compete for customer mindshare and lifetime loyalty, trusted advisor relationships are vital to differentiating the service of one institution from another.
The most successful advisors possess a comprehensive, technical knowledge of the investment products available, in addition to highly-tuned interpersonal skills that are needed to successfully guide a customer through their investment journey.
It’s their job to become a trusted advisor, translate the value and risk of various investment choices, and ensure their customers understand how those risks align to their individual goals. The role of financial educator is not only required, but also highly regulated, as both domestic and international watchdogs seek to further safeguard clients and the advisor’s role in fostering financial literacy.
The Art & Science of Developing Advisor Skills
There is an art to building and enabling a team of advisors who can provide unparalleled service as customers onboard and move through life’s financial milestones. What if that art could be turned into a science?
A science-based, data-driven approach to onboarding and continual skills development can equip advisors to deliver a customer experience built on the foundation of expert advice delivered from the outset. The importance of effective advisor onboarding should not be underestimated, as studies show that a satisfying onboarding process can speed ramp-up time by as much as 34%, translating into a quicker time to revenue. Leveraging technology and data when onboarding advisors on multiple topics from complex product portfolios and related messaging, to sales techniques, to industry regulations and more, can help managers determine where advisor proficiencies stand on key topics, and where improvement and knowledge reinforcement is needed.
An Evergreen Approach to Advisor Development
Given that advisors serve as a critical interface between a financial institution and their customers, they must be “built to learn.” Meaning that the learning cannot stop once onboarding is completed, particularly in a dynamic market where customers, products and competition are constantly changing. Training, development and coaching should be executed as a continual process – not simply an event.
Even the most experienced advisors need additional support to stay on top of their game. From the introduction of customer-facing technologies, to getting up to speed on new investment products, to conveying updated competitive messaging, there is no shortage of areas where advisors would benefit from ongoing support. The value of committing to a formal coaching program is underscored in recent CSO Insights research that shows 68% of customer-facing reps achieve target where formal coaching programs are in place, versus only 48% in organizations where coaching was conducted on an ad hoc basis. While adopting an ongoing coaching program may seem complicated and time-consuming, taking a data-driven approach can provide clear insight into the capabilities of advisor teams, allowing for the customization of a coaching framework that can be more easily developed and scaled.
A Data-Driven Program is Key to Advisor Onboarding Success
These 5 steps offer a proven approach to implementing an evergreen program that transforms advisor onboarding and continually develops skills to keep advisors informed and agile – at scale.
The most successful programs use data to:
- Hire new talent and identify the baseline skills of your new recruits
- Identify and measure proficiency and improvement over time
- Correlate proficiency with productivity and performance
- Create a sales coaching plan
- Continually onboard and shape an agile advisory team
Technology as a Tool for Supporting Advisor Development
The right advisor performance solution is key to making a data-driven onboarding and development approach a reality. Such a solution will support efforts to develop new skills and make training actionable in an advisor’s daily work life, equipping them to hold complex, and often highly personal, conversations with customers about their investment goals and help them decide what to invest in.
Knowledge reinforcement and coaching technology delivers these results by making it easy for managers to evaluate a new hire’s performance against expectations. These solutions capture critical data that measure an advisor’s level of engagement (a leading indicator of motivation and willingness to grow), proficiency (current knowledge, skill gaps, and the ability to learn over time), and performance.
To learn more, download our latest eBook, “5 Data-Driven Steps to Successfully Onboard Financial Advisors.”