Dr. Pratik P. SURANA,
EQ I 2.0 Certified Practitioner
Chief Mentor and Founder,
Why Financial Services is reeling under pressure and is not a very happy work place for it’s employees and associates?
Be it deadlines, badly stressed profits, wafer thin margins or tough targets for the sales people in Banking, Stock Markets, Investment houses, Corporate financial services, often the first compromise happens is on Work Life Balance and hence the most taken for granted skill is Emotional Intelligence. Who has time for such sft issues, right? Wrong..
If a tree represented a financial firm, robust internal and external relationships would be its roots. Without good roots, the tree wouldn’t experience optimum growth and produce good fruit (results and profit). And emotional intelligence is essential to robust relationships.
All financial organisations, whether they operate within the actuarial, insurance, retail banking, risk or regulatory arena, are still hugely based on relationships. And long will they be, as this essential and personal aspect can’t be substituted with technology.
Take retail banks and building societies as an example. The main graduate jobs are in branch management or relationship management – both of which involve immense interaction with colleagues or customers every day.
A lot of our business is working with and leading people – if you’re going to be successful with that you need emotional intelligence.
The same applies to roles in insurance – from entry level up to management. As a broker, insurance agent or an under writer, emotional intelligence has an important part to play because if you sense that someone’s reacting positively to a certain theme you continue to go down that route.
One of the most volatile of all the services where very high stakes are involved, the amount of money involved and the global politico-economic-social scenario and it’s impact, the stock markets have become more sensitive to the global developments
Some of the symptoms common across these industries that people have and the causes are :
• Having to work longer hours
• More sedentary, office based work – less time out in the fresh air
• Having constant appraisals, reviews and reappraisals in order to keep up with the company guidelines.
• Having huge amounts of paperwork and bureaucracy
• The instability of jobs nowadays – high proportion of businesses outsourcing work to India and Eastern Europe, and redundancies
• Settling for second best – not doing a job that you love, rather doing the job that peers or society “expect” of you.
• Critical and unsupportive managers
• Critical and negative workers
• Poor working conditions
• Lack of exercise
• Poor diet while at work
• Not taking regular breaks or fresh air
• Not being able to delegate your work to other people
• Not being able to say no to others demands on your time
• Sitting in front of a computer all day can really drain your energy levels (I found a Q Link really gave me an energetic boost when wearing it)
• Doing a boring and repetitive job
more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.
Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
• Memory problems
• Inability to concentrate
• Poor judgement
• Seeing only the negative
• Anxious or racing thoughts
• Constant worrying
• Irritability or short temper
• Agitation, inability to relax
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Sense of loneliness and isolation
• Depression or general unhappiness
• Aches and pains
• Diarrhoea or constipation
• Nausea, dizziness
• Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
• Loss of sex drive
• Frequent colds
• Eating more or less
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Isolating yourself from others
• Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
• Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
• Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.
Senior psychology consultants have commented on how non-verbal cues are as important as verbal cues when understanding others emotions, and how to act upon those emotions, feelings and responses to then modify them accordingly, especially in challenging situations.
The vital need for emotional intelligence to be present within the workplace is becoming more acknowledged as low emotional intelligence has been found to be linked with low productivity levels, high turnover and absenteeism. Business psychologist Jo Maddocks, claims that due to overall level of emotional intelligence across the finance industry, there may be a lack of awareness that is a problem they are being placed with.
The research has also found a gender difference in emotional intelligence levels within the financial sector indicating that women within the finance industry displayed considerably higher levels of self-awareness, awareness of others, emotional expression and the ability to connect with others. Therefore women are better at managing and understanding emotions and how to use their emotions effectively when establishing relationships. This evidence is important as many companies have deterred from employing women in certain senior levels.
Another interesting factor found was the ever changing emotional states of individuals when faced with different situations. Those within the finance industry tend to display defensive and resilient behaviours when faced with stressful situations. When things are going well they display optimism and take risk more easily, sometimes resulting from a poor judgement. On the other hand when things go wrong, individuals avoid risk and play it safe.
An explanation for why the above behaviours are exhibited may be due to the nature of the funds industry being so short-term with managers having to prove and perform and deliver within short time frames to keep their jobs. Individuals go into survival mode and do what they can to protect themselves; decisions made under these circumstances are not always the best.
The ability to increase one’s levels of EQ and SQ is clearly possible, and the means of doing this are likely to be linked to the fact that both EQ and SQ are complex concepts made up of numerous abilities; each of which can be developed in its own right. In order to develop these areas of intelligence, one must first acknowledge their current level of emotional and social intelligence and gauge what they explicitly need to develop.
So what happens if the Financial Services Sector embraces EQ ?
By undertaking self-reflection, questioning, coaching and feedback it is possible to develop and improve EQ and SQ levels. By taking the time to ask individuals and communicate more, motivation levels will increase and individual will want to work efficiently in a team.
In our work with emotional intelligence, we have personally seen individuals improve their leadership capacities and skills in their professional role and enhance their personal lives. We fully subscribe to several of Low and Nelson’s (nd) implications for how we teach learners and manage our emotional intelligence training program. These beliefs include the following.
• Emotional intelligence is the most important factor in achieving success.
• High levels of achievement, success, and happiness are self-defined and directed.
• The effects of negative and unchecked emotional stress, ineffective and poor relationships, and personal stagnation are financially costly.
• A personal and emotional accountability system is essential for positive human development.
• Honest self-assessment is requisite to positive and intentional personal change.
• People develop and change themselves.
• Learners learn best and teachers teach best in environments that are physically and emotionally safe.
• Personal meaning is more relevant and powerful than external meaning.
• Education and learning require the perspective of balance between academic achievement and becoming emotionally intelligent.
• Healthy and effective relationships, personal leadership, self-management, intra personal growth and development, and recognition of potential problems are essential elements for creating a positive and healthy learning climate
Including emotional intelligence training and coaching into our leadership-training repertoire has proven to be a positive step toward improving the lives of Finance professionals
For more, connect with me on Skype: pratiksqicpl or write to me on