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Soft skills key to client relationships: MetLife

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Clients still prioritise advisers’ soft skills even as the industry is focusing on education and technical competency, MetLife says.

The top three attributes clients want in an adviser all relate to soft skills, according to the life insurer’s latest report on adviser-client relationships.

They are: “genuinely cares about me”, “speaks in an easy-to-understand language” and “is honest and trustworthy”.

About 60% of respondents rate their adviser as “very good” or “excellent”, driven by a high rating on soft skills.

MetLife says advisers must change their choice of communication for the younger generation: 84% of consumers aged 18-39 prefer email or texting (18%), while those over 60 prefer face-to-face communication (52%) or phone calls (47%). However, 53% of young small business owners prefer phone calls, while 80% of older clients prefer email.

The insurer says clients won’t hesitate to change advisers if soft skills are lacking, particularly small business owners.

“[New education] standards will raise the level of formal education across the industry, but we mustn’t lose sight of how much consumers and small businesses value advisers’ interpersonal skills,” Head of Retail Sales Matt Lippiatt said. Consumer expectations are rising and it’s no longer enough to be technically competent, he says.