The Value of Brains

If you are intelligent, this will get you exactly nowhere in financial planning profession.

David R. Evanson

The Career Advisor, Fall, 2004

At least, that seems to be the conclusion from the answers contained in a Spring 2004 survey of the more than 300 LPL advisers who responded to our questionnaire. Surprisingly, or perhaps not depending on your perspective, of all the traits measured, good old intelligence ranked dead last with less than 1%. (See Data Points for more details.)

Ironically, to those more learned, the result was, uh, a no-brainer. According to Michael Horwitz, CFP, a fee-only planner, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, “It is a recognition that technical expertise, which is most often equated with intelligence, is not how you create value and trust and credibility with clients and build long term relationships.”

What’s the practical implication of this? “For the limited professional development training that you undertake,” suggest Horwitz, “Consider interpersonal skills training as seriously as you might consider a seminar on advanced estate planning,” says Horwitz.

In the scheme of things, this would seem to make sense. After all, what’s the point of possessing technical expertise, if you can’t get anyone to like you enough or trust you enough to put it to work on their behalf?

Regarding such training, there’s all sorts of seminars associated with financial planning trade groups that touch on some aspect of interpersonal skills. But if you want the pure stuff, and want it from the ultimate source, consider Dale Carnegie training, which is offered individually or in groups in most major markets. More information at

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