The New Credential That Will Increase Your AUM

December 9, 2014

by Dan Solin

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Investment advisors can obtain a confusing array of credentials: Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Analyst, Wealth Management Specialist, Accredited Asset Management Specialist, Accredited Portfolio Manager Specialist, and the list goes on. These titles are so confusing that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) devotes an entire web page to “understanding professional designations.”

A new designation

Collectively, advisors spend an enormous amount of resources developing their knowledge in various areas of wealth management. Some of these credentials reflect years of study. Currently, no one has the “ME” credential, and for good reason.

I just created it.

“ME” stands for Master of Empathy. Without it, your ability to achieve success as an investment advisor (or in your personal relationships) will be seriously compromised.

Learning from physicians

Physicians, as a professional group, have a reputation for being “empathy challenged.” This can be attributed to their medical education, where they are taught to disassociate emotionally from patients. Yet, physicians have been responding to research that shows a positive correlation between  greater physician empathy, fewer medical mistakes, better outcomes and happier patients.

The encouraging news is that a person can learn to empathize. One study of physicians found that a brief intervention (three 60-minute empathy training modules) significantly improved physician empathy as rated by patients. The authors of the study concluded that quality of care could be improved by integrating the neuroscience of empathy into medical education.

Empathy challenges of advisors

I have found that investment advisors are often just as clueless about empathy as physicians. While they pay lip service to their commitment to focus on the needs of their clients, this commitment is not always perceived by clients. Their interaction with prospects and clients is characterized by the dissemination of technical information, akin to a professor lecturing a class of students.

Such advisors believe they are being empathetic because the information they are conveying is obviously important to the financial well-being of their clients. However, this scenario falls far short of truly empathetic behavior.

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