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Top Communication Skills for Investment Professionals

Written by: Viktoria Girdenyte; Nick Bartlett, CFA, ASIP
Published on: Sep 15, 2018

What does it take to be a successful investment professional? CFA UK recently undertook research to find out what skills and competencies employers look for when they recruit investment professionals. This involved interviews with front office investment and learning & development professionals from firms such as Schroders, Willis Towers Watson, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, PIMCO and more.

Here are the five most valued communication skills that will  help you land a job and succeed in the investment industry. Want to know more? Download the full report.

Communication skills

Communication skills include leaders as communicators, peer-to-peer communication, sales communications to clients and among others, cross cultural communication for globally positioned companies. The five most valued communication skills by employers include:

1. Summarising complex issues clearly and succinctly

From verbal communication such as an analyst conveying to a fund manager a compelling investment opportunity, to the ability to write a concise attention-grabbing email, the delivery of the message in a clear and succinct manner and identification of the appropriate delivery channel is critical. The importance of grammar is seen to be underplayed, but remains a basic requirement.

2. Tailoring communication to the technical level of the audience

Investment professionals communicate with a wide range of retail and institutional clients as well as IT, research teams and peers. The ability to appropriately adapt the level of communication to the audience is key.

3. ‘Reading’ people to empathise and establish a strong rapport

 Essential for client-facing roles and increasingly across internal networks.

4. Resilience to sustain a logical argument under pressure

This skill is essential when influencing an internal investment debate and when making portfolio recommendations. All analysts will experience periods in which some of their best ideas detract from fund performance. It is therefore important to listen to others and admit to mistakes.

5. The ability to identify and ask insightful questions

A core requirement for investment analysts seeking company insights.

Communication is seen to be a competency that can be developed in staff. Some aspects of communication such as reading body language, identifying the right communication channels and interpreting cues in conversations with clients are perceived as common sense and therefore more innate than trainable. Attitude to development varies. Experienced individuals with established client bases do not always see the need to improve. Newer entrants are generally keen to learn. Advice and training on how to improve communication skills are generally available through tailored in-house courses and third-party workshops.