How to Become a Better Financial Communicator?
For long, it was thought that finance professionals only needed to be good with numbers. But this idea is now changing. The financial side of any business does not just need good finance professionals but also good marketers, managers, and communicators.
With the growing popularity of platforms like YouTube and financial blogs, almost everyone is becoming a financial advisor today. They may not have any qualifications or in-depth knowledge of finance, accounting, or investment strategies, but they do their research and put information out there. The audience has access to an ocean of information on finance and investments on these self-publishing platforms. But quality advice can only be offered by those who are qualified and experienced in this sector.
To emerge over this plethora of free information that people can find online, even the best financial services need people who can communicate well. They need their prospective clientele to see and hear what they can offer, and only a skilled financial communicator can ensure this.
So, how can you become a better financial communicator? Here are a few things to start with:
Consider formal and practical training
To be able to best serve the financial service you work for as well as your clients, it is extremely important that you give priority to education and training. Both formal training and practical experience in effective communication play a key role in building your oration skills.
There are several online and offline certification courses on communication skills designed especially for financial advisors.
An internship or training at a reputed financial firm, where you need to communicate with clients on a regular basis, can be an added advantage as you gain some first-hand, on-the-job experience.
For improving your communication skills and gaining more confidence, public speaking can be useful as well. Apart from your day job as a financial communicator, joining forums or seeking opportunities to deliver talks on topics related to your field can be a good way to start. Certain platforms, like Toastmasters, allow people to practice public speaking through their network of clubs spread over 149 countries.
Understand the audience
So you’ve got your certificates and recommendations sorted. Now whether you join a financial firm or work as an independent financial advisor, you will need to know who you are catering to. This is the first rule in communication of any kind – know your audience.
As a financial communicator, you may be creating content for a variety of clients- from business tycoons to self-employed artists to homemakers and more. Each of these audience personas will have a different level of understanding of financial matters and industry jargon.
Even if you are communicating within the organization, you may have to interact with various people at various levels. From the CFO to executive members of sales or IT departments to marketing teams, you may have to deal with them all, and not everyone will be adept in finance or accounting concepts.
When you know who your audience is, you can figure out how to communicate best with them. With some clients or stakeholders, discussing complex financial problems and topics may require no effort. For some others, you may have to break down and simplify concepts so that communication is effective.
Be an active listener
There are two sides to effective communication - speaking/ writing and listening. To be an effective financial communicator, you also need to be a good listener. Finance can be a complicated area, and unless you understand what your client or any other stakeholder is looking for, offering the right solutions can be difficult.
This is where active listening skills help. Always pay attention to what the other party is saying. To build trust in your clients or stakeholders, it is also important to show them that you are paying attention. Eye contact when they’re speaking or a slight nod of the head reinforces this feeling. You may also ask questions or add a comment where necessary to demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation.
When the speaker is done speaking, it is a good idea to restate what they said according to your understanding. This not only confirms you have been listening well but also eliminates any misunderstanding or misinterpretations that may have crept in.
Avoid using financial jargon
Some finance professionals may feel that using industry jargon helps them come across as knowledgeable or scholarly. But as a good communicator, the less jargon you use, the easier it is to put across your point. Speak in a language that your client or stakeholder understands. The aim is to solve their problems and explain matters in a way they can apprehend.
Making it easier for them helps build their trust in your services.
Be a skilled storyteller
Finance can be a dull and tedious topic for most people. Holding on to people’s attention in topics of finance is often a real challenge. This is where your storytelling skills will help you. Share stories about the topic you are discussing. Stories of other people that they can find relatable or success stories of companies told in an engaging way can help create interest and intrigue.
This will need some research and study on your part. Go through case studies and client accounts that can help you gather some stories and learn how to present them well in between interactions.
Mind your pace
Again, remember that your audience does not consist of finance experts. So what you think is a good enough pace when you speak may be too fast for them to be able to grasp anything you are saying. Pace is critical in any kind of communication, more so in complex topics like finance.
Speak slowly and give your audience the time to process what you say. Encourage questions and take your time to answer them. If you think something is important, repeat it a few times so they can register it well. Once your audience gets in sync with you, it will automatically become comfortable for both of you.
Your communication skills are just as important as your aptitude in finance for your services to yield results. Be it within an organization or in your interactions with clients, effective communication can make a big difference. Try these tips and keep practicing. If you persevere, it is only a matter of time before you become an excellent financial communicator.