Top of their list: Empathy
In July 2020, we asked our clients to complete a survey to help us understand what they valued most about working with Jane Smith Financial Planning. Whilst we could have guessed at what these might be, we were thrilled that what we thought and what our clients said were in fact very closely aligned. We’re clearly on the same page, understanding what our clients want and appreciate from working with the team at Jane Smith Financial Planning.
Looking back to those survey results, over the next few months, we’re going to dig a little deeper into each of the top results and explain why each one is so important when working with a financial planner.
We’re pleased to say it’s not only our knowledge and expertise that our clients value, or the peace of mind they get from what we do. It’s also the way we take time to understand their own situation – in fact, the stand-out quality our clients told us mattered most to them was empathy.
When I tell people what I do, they often assume I crunch numbers all day. Of course, numbers are essential to financial planning. But the skill I use most as a financial planner can’t be found in a spreadsheet. It’s in client meetings, asking questions and listening. If you don’t listen, you don’t know your clients, their dreams, their concerns, and you can’t create a successful financial plan for them. Yes, the job involves technical issues, tax and investment performance. However, more often than not, the decisions a client makes are based on their lifestyle and personality.
Former US President Barack Obama said “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world”. While we’re not trying to change the world, we’re trying to help you change YOUR world for the better. Financial planning is about translating what you want from life into a tangible way to achieve it. A key part of that is for you to open up about what you want, what makes you happy and what worries you – and for your financial planner to understand all of that before they plan anything.
In a world where people increasingly talk about AI, data and robo-advice, I truly believe that there will always be a place for individual, bespoke and personalised advice. Yes, we might use technology to help facilitate this, but no machine or tool can replicate empathy. There’s no real replacement for a human being able to listen, empathise and provide reassurance.
Interestingly, in the survey we completed ourselves, empathy was number two on our list. That’s honestly not as bad as it sounds – the only thing we put above empathy was peace of mind, which was your second most popular choice. It makes sense – if being heard is what matters to you, then giving you the peace of mind that you’re heard and understood should sit at the top of our list. More on peace of mind next month…
Lastly, in the words of one of our clients:
“Nicola has exhibited great empathy, excellent knowledge and above all put our requirements first, whilst acting in an extremely professional and trustworthy manner.” Tim, Olney