This article first appeared in Investment Week, 27th June, 2019
Hands up if you remember taking an IQ test? Filling in those little multiple-choice boxes, then waiting for a number to emerge and tell you how smart you were?Even the BBC got in on it with the hugely popular Test the Nation quiz.
If the number was sufficiently high, you were officially clever and more likely to enjoy success in later life. But if the number was a bit low - disaster. Your professional future at the very least suddenly did not look so bright.
Those of us working in asset and investment management are firmly in the business of numbers and data, so it comes as little surprise that the use of IQ tests was, for many years, within our comfort zone.
Think about it - it is a proven, widely understood, relatively easy to administer method to determine our intelligence, and by extension how likely we were to be successful within the industry.
What wasn't there to love? Well, times, and our industry, are both changing.
While there will never be a time when we stop loving numbers and data, research is increasingly pointing to a somewhat related but far more important factor to determine our success in the industry - EQ or EI, otherwise known as emotional quotient or emotional intelligence.
For anyone not familiar with the term, there are several ways to explain EQ. In a nutshell, it is the ability to understand and recognise your own emotions and those of others around you.
It is the ability to distinguish different emotions, and use this comprehension to influence, guide and adapt your thinking, behaviour and interactions accordingly to achieve your goals.
According to the Harvard Business Review, it is a high EQ rather than a high IQ that distinguishes outstanding performers in the workplace.
Even in instances where two employees performing the same role share a similar IQ, the worker with the higher EQ tends to put in the better performance.
Surely this indicates it is high time we made room for EQ in the working world?
For an industry such as ours, which prides itself on being about the tried-and-tested facts and data, this sounds like out-of-the-box thinking.
But despite the industry's fixation on numbers, investment decisions are more likely to be based on emotion.
Clients will not only rely on intelligence when picking advisers, they will select someone whom they connect with and trust.
In fact, some experts argue the most successful investors are those with a high EQ.
Those of us in asset and investment management love numbers and data. However, in the midst of this love of numbers, it is important to remember that we are not charts. We are not numbers, studies, reports or data - we are humans.
Our individualism, thought processes, interpersonal skills, interactions and the way we think are just as important as our intelligence and should play a big part in decision making.
From CEOs to interns, EQ matters, and the sooner we start to truly acknowledge this, the sooner we will reap the benefits.
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