Why advisors need strong right-brain skills in today’s changing worldArticle added by Dave Scranton on June 11, 2012
Dave Scranton

Dave Scranton

Joined: February 23, 2011

My Company

Advisors Academy

Like a lot of of you, I got into this business primarily because I love and have a knack for numbers, and math is undoubtedly the purest of all logical, left-brain skills. But any advisor who ignores or refuses to acknowledge the importance of right-brain skills does so at his or her own peril – and I believe that’s truer today than ever before.

You may be the world’s smartest mathematician and a certified genius when it comes to investing; however, if you don’t know how to instill trust, loyalty and old-fashioned likability in ways that have nothing to do with numbers and money, then you will never achieve your full potential as an advisor

What I’m talking about is the importance of right-brain skills – the part of our business that involves connecting with clients and prospects not just in terms of what we know, but who we are. Empathy, emotion, non-verbal communication, spontaneity: these are skills that probably come far less naturally to many advisors than the kind of rational, concrete, linear processes involved in creating investment strategies. I know that was true of me.

Like a lot of of you, I got into this business primarily because I love and have a knack for numbers, and math is undoubtedly the purest of all logical, left-brain skills. But any advisor who ignores or refuses to acknowledge the importance of right-brain skills does so at his or her own peril – and I believe that’s truer today than ever before.

In his book, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future,” Daniel Pink argues that the era of left-brain dominance and the information age it launched are giving way to a new era in which right-brain qualities such as inventiveness, empathy and holistic thinking are becoming more important. He makes a compelling case, pointing out that a lot of the nuts-and-bolts functions at the heart of many numbers-based jobs are increasingly becoming automated (think TurboTax) or outsourced.

Mr. Pink recently gave an excellent presentation on this very topic to advisors I coach at a four-day workshop focusing mainly on concrete strategies for improving and utilizing right brain skills to grow your business. Joining Mr. Pink were Adele Lynn, a nationally renowned pioneer in the field of emotional intelligence (EQ), and Dr. William D. Horton, founder of the National Federation of Neurolinguistic Psychology and one of the world’s leading experts on subconscious communication.

Thanks to these and other excellent presenters and the enthusiastic participation of the advisors who attended, this was highly successful event, and I’d like to share now my top three takeaways from it:

1. Right-brain doesn’t mean “touchy feely” – In planning this event, I was actually a little worried some of our advisors would find the topic off-putting, and fear that I was planning to subject them to four days of finger painting and writing poetry! The fact is, understanding right brain skills and their importance to your business isn’t the same as “getting in touch with your feelings” or learning to “express yourself” artistically. It’s much more than that, and there are practical ways to hone and develop right brain skills without necessarily delving into touchy-feely discussions or exercises far outside the comfort zones of most left-brainers.

2. Right-brain skills are the foundation of trust – Trust is by far one of the most important elements of our business, but most producers probably spend little time talking about how to cultivate and maintain it. When people agree to entrust you with their life savings, you better believe that’s a level of trust based on much more than what you’re able to show them on a calculator or in a prospectus. Building and maintaining trust – the thing that allows you to convert prospects, retain clients long-term and get those clients to send you referrals – is maybe 20 percent about the numbers and your left-brain mastery. The other 80 percent is all right-brain: empathy, humor, likeability, design, depth, meaning and a lot of other so-called intangibles that can actually be strengthened and developed in very tangible ways once they’re identified.

3. Right brain skills are teachable – Though these skills aren’t concrete, linear or logical in the same way that left-brain functions are, there are concrete, linear and logical ways to teach and learn them. All of the presenters who spoke at our workshop came prepared with proven, step-by-step processes to help advisors better develop their right-brain skills and apply them toward boosting business and better serving customers. And whether you consider yourself a left-brainer or right-brainer by nature, that’s ultimately what it’s all about.
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