The softer side of wealth management: Why soft skills matter so much to clients

August 5, 2019

By John P. Napolitano at Accounting Today on August 1, 2019

Being a student and a business owner in the wealth management profession, it became clear to me years ago that the most successful firms or practitioners were not necessarily owned by the smartest people in the profession.

In the wealth management profession, the best of the best have the entrepreneurial thing figured out. They have competent staff, powerful outside resources, capital, and a business plan to generate growth.

The owner likely started as a practitioner in one of the more common starting places for wealth managers, such as investments or insurance, but then became a business owner and focused on what they do best and began to surround themselves with competent staff to do everything else.

What these most successful wealth management owners have also determined is that the deepest mastery of the technical matter isn’t what sets them apart.

Their services are distinct from others in that they understand their clients and their lives extremely well. They’ve mastered the soft side of personal financial planning in a very bonding way. Don’t take this as a slam to the technical nerds out there, but realize this: What you think is most important in a wealth management relationship may be drastically different from what your clients and prospects think is most important in a wealth management relationship. I’ll have more on that later.

When pondering an offering in the wealth management space, many CPAs immediately get wrapped up in the specialized knowledge that is needed to deliver that service as well as they do their CPA services. Because the CPA world contains so much specialized knowledge, where mastery is considered game stakes for practitioners, I can understand the thinking. But in the wealth management world, the knowledge base required is so vast that it is nearly impossible to master all of the specialized technical subject matters that may need addressing in the course of a typical wealth management engagement.

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