Consulting means listening

I was recently asked to participate in CIRI’s Mentorship Program, specifically as a mentor to a new consultant.

This got me to thinking: what makes a good IR consultant? Knowledge of business generally and the accumulation of hard skills specifically are good starting points. But it’s not enough just to understand behavioural finance, corporate disclosure best practices or even how to conduct an investor perception survey.

Soft skills are equally important. I have met many consultants over the years who possessed the requisite hard skills but failed miserably to master even the most basic soft skill: listening. Too many consultants are in love with the sound of their own voice to stop and truly listen to what a client is saying. You know the type: they offer advice before hearing the whole story and they name drop incessantly. It’s easy to do this because consultants find perceived similarities in work they do across different client accounts, they always want to look like they have all the answers and they bask in the glory of past successes. The problem is the quick-draw consultant often provides misaligned IR strategies and cookie-cutter advice.

So in my CIRI mentorship role, and as the owner of Fundamental, I put a premium on soft skills not the least of which is listening intently before acting.