Asset management, or financial services in general, are both areas with very high specialized knowledge, financial gains… and egos. Conflicts are frequent, and not being able to persuade or get your message across is possible in many situations. It might even prevent your fund from reaching institutional-quality operations.
There are some key concepts from emotional intelligence that can help you – whether an ascending trader/analyst or a senior fund manager/CIO – to persuade better, understand objections and reticence from the other side, and better connecting with the people you want to. Emotional intelligence is not only a powerful tool, but a powerful part of training for asset management professionals.
First, we’ll review some core concepts from Emotional Intelligence (and some from conflict resolution in asset management as well). Although they have been described in detail in the linked article, we’ll quickly summarize the necessary ones here for convenience. Then, we’ll break down how to use specific ones for each of four specific purposes:
- Emotional intelligence for persuading/influencing;
- Emotional intelligence in managing oneself;
- Emotional intelligence in managing others;
- Emotional intelligence in trading;
When persuading others, concepts like empathy and active listening, tailoring communication for others and understanding reactive and projected emotions are key. A person must have the capacity to not only understand their own triggers and emotions, but also those of the person on the other side, and possibly use them to persuade them. In terms of support tools, eliciting objections can help.
Empathy is, in short, understanding the other person’s point of view. Putting yourself in their shoes. You don’t have to agree with them, but you have to understand them. I group it together with active listening because they are very similar in this context: people want to make sure you are understanding them and listening to every word, versus not really caring about what they are talking about.
You also can tailor the communication to the other side’s point of view for maximum effect. Models like the Four Perceived Personalities split people into a combination of two axes of personality (Detail vs. Vision and Competing vs. Cooperating), which all have different comunication patterns and are persuaded in different ways.
Finally, understanding your reactive and projected emotions (that is, what emotions other cause in you and what emotions you cause in others) are important to pre-empt and prevent roadblocks. Do you get angry when someone disrespects you? Do you cause irritation in others because you sound condescending? Understand what might go wrong and pre-empt it.
2. Managing Oneself
In terms of managing yourself, it’s important to be aware of your internal and reactive emotions, as well as your level of vulnerability/defensiveness. In terms of support tools, analyzing your core values and identity and/or your relationships help shed light on said emotions.
While your internal emotions are your baseline emotional state dictated by things like your physical well-being, usual environments and others, your reactive emotions are the ones caused by others in interactions (for example, becoming angry at someone when they are arrogant). Finally, your level of vulnerability/defensiveness both tells how well you can connect with others by sharing past errors and war stories, but also what triggers you if you are defensive.
3. Managing Others
In order to properly manage others, you will need a combination of all abovementioned dimensions. First, you will need to monitor your internal emotions to guarantee a good baseline state. You will need to be aware of your reactive emotions to know what triggers you, as well as your level of vulnerability/defensiveness to know how deep you go as a role model and some of your emotional triggers as well.
You will need active listening and empathy to make your people feel understood, be it when requesting something or asking them to align with the vision and values of the company.
Trading is a specific cases that requires you to analyze your reactive emotions, but not cause by other people, but by situations in this case. Do you become anxious when an open trade is going the other way? Do you become excessively confident when a trade reaches the target and get greedy, not exiting properly and maybe losing it all later when it reverses?
Developing emotional intelligence for trading is usually not a practice just in itself, but something that can be analyzed as part of an effort of journaling, especially if combined with a trading diary. By drawing patterns on past behavior, both in terms of entries and exits, but also in how you behave in terms of risk, dealing with drawdowns and others, you will realize your unique patterns.
Specific occasions like reversing a bad streak also have their own emotional and performance patterns.
Applying emotional intelligence in asset management, or in other facets of financial services, obeys the same foundations of knowing both your internal and projected emotions, but focuses on empathy and active listening to make sure people are not offended or misunderstood.
Given the bigger egos and defensiveness in financial services, it’s important to respect someone’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it, and you achieve that through techniques like empathy. With a solid foundation of internal emotion awareness and execution, relationships with others become easier, and can be helped with specific techniques to manage the projected emotions in others.