Elston CPD Redefining Adviser Value - Page 9

A key quality of advisers that underpins effective interpersonal skills, is emotional intelligence, a concept that has received formal attention since the 1990s.8 Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, understand and regulate emotions. It entails using emotions to promote reasoning and responses. The relation between EI and success has been studied by psychologists and there is evidence of a strong relationship between EI and job performance, especially in the finance advice profession which is driven primarily by social interaction.1 Figure 2 presents a diagram of how EI may affect job performance.9 This suggests that the ability to regulate emotions preserves cognitive resources that can be devoted to the task and therefore is key to improving job performance. The ability to regulate emotions depends on the extent to which one is able to perceive the emotional state of oneself and the other (emotion perception) as well as how accurately one evaluates these emotions and their consequences (emotion understanding). Emotion perception and understanding in turn depend on more primitive constructs that affect job performance, namely cognitive ability and personality traits. While cognitive ability enables better performance due to accrued knowledge and skills, conscientiousness and emotional stability motivate responsibility and accomplishment strivings, thus enhancing job performance. In summary, EI is a bundle of psychological traits that drive job performance. Figure 2: How emotional intelligence affects job performance Source: BirthStar® Research Having outlined the general framework of how EI affects job performance, we now describe the more direct implications of EI for development of interpersonal skills. Figure 3 lists the various constituents of interpersonal skills in order of relative value (as perceived by clients), all of which leverage EI. In a 2013 survey of 512 clients,1 communication skills (voted by 38%) and building a rapport (voted by 24%) were described as being most important qualities of advisers. In a dialogue with advisers, clients want to be able to feel at ease while also being able to comprehend the facts. High levels of EI are necessary to perform successfully on these aspects of client engagement as well as other factors such as genuinely caring about clients and understanding their needs and empathising with client concerns. In summary emotional intelligence is core to building strong, trusted relationships. 9