According to renowned psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), is characterized by 5 fundamental attributes: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Self-awareness, perhaps one of the key traits of EQ, signals that someone knows their strengths and weakness and demonstrates a sense of authenticity to those around them. For financial advisors, EQ can enhance interactions and instill confidence in your audience.

The World Economic Forum, known for its dedication to moral and intellectual integrity, ranked EQ as being one of the 15 most important workplace skills for success in 2025 in its “Future of Jobs Report”.1 In successful leaders, strong EQ traits manifest themselves in various ways, and particularly as one who is adept at regulating their emotions and retaining their composure, even in challenging situations. These leaders are highly motivated and passionate about what they do, set lofty goals and work toward them diligently. You may notice those with high EQ are empathetic, active listeners with excellent social skills. They are astute observers of body language who are sensitive to what such observations mean to their interactions with others and adjust their communication accordingly. All of these characteristics make such leaders effective communicators and conflict resolvers.

Many well-known leaders in business, sports and politics score very highly in emotional intelligence, including business leaders Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. They are able to read those around them, adapt messaging to their audience appropriately, and passionately drive initiatives forward.

In a now famous email to staff at Tesla, Elon Musk, in responding to worker safety issues, wrote: “No words can express how much I care about your safety and wellbeing. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet every injured person as soon as they are well so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. At Tesla, we lead from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.”2

In discussing the importance of listening, sometimes referred to as the secret weapon of emotional intelligence, Richard Branson has said: “Lead by listening – to be a good leader you have to be a great listener.”3

Musk and Branson clearly think and act in an emotionally intelligent manner, which endears them to their staffers, and one can assume also to their business partners, and ultimately, their customers.

While a relatively recent concept, effective leaders have been cognizant of the importance of emotional intelligence for some time, as articulated by President Theodore Roosevelt: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Robert Kuftinec, financial advisor and strategist from Auour Investments, appreciates the importance of emotional intelligence, particularly during one-on-one client interactions, stating: “I focus much of my attention on the feel of the meeting, what a client is thinking, how they are interpreting what I am saying – all of this is equally important to what I am saying about investments or the financial plan.”

Financial advisors who focus on these important elements of emotional intelligence are apt to earn more business and maintain it for longer periods. These professionals are also likely to connect more authentically with their clients, resulting in greater career satisfaction and fulfillment as a result.

Nick Elward is an adjunct MBA professor at Endicott College and is the Head of Institutional Products and ETFs at Natixis Investment Managers.
1 World Economic Forum. The Future of Jobs Report 2020.

2 https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/29/what-you-can-learn-from-elon-musk-about-emotional-intelligence.html

3 Facebook post by Richard Branson, June 19, 2012.

Natixis Distribution, LLC is a limited purpose broker-dealer and the distributor of various registered investment companies for which advisory services are provided by affiliates of Natixis Investment Managers. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.

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