Be seen as a trusted advisor: Insights from SOPAC Sydney

by | Apr 9, 2019 | Brand Expression, Personal Brand

Insights from #SOPAC Sydney for auditors, accountants and financial planners

In March, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Institute of Internal Auditors’ annual Asia-Pacific conference, #SOPAC2019 in Sydney. Before my presentation, I was fortunate to sit in on the address by U.S.-based President and CEO of IIA, Richard F.Chambers, entitled ‘Auditor of the Future’, where he highlighted the findings in his book, Trusted Advisors: Key attributes of outstanding internal auditors.

I found that many of the vital attributes described would be recognised as important for other advisors, such as different types of accountants, as well as financial advisors.

The top attributes found in the study of successful auditors were broken into three key areas that build trust, and it is easy to see how these apply to all kinds of professional people in advisory roles, for example:

  • Professional: Going beyond solid technical expertise to think critically about problems
  • Relational: The importance of powerful communication to build relationships and to lead others
  • Personal: Maintaining ethics while focusing on results

 Indeed, these ideas were echoed in one of the highlights of the conference, a panel discussion on governance post-Royal Commission, between Australian Bankers Association CEO Anna Bligh AC, ASX Corporate Governance Council Chair Elizabeth Johnstone, and ASIC Commissioner John Price.

In my own presentation on personal brand I discussed the considerations for internal auditors with regards to building trust within the organisations they work for. While some points were particular to this type of role, the underlying principles of how advisors build trust were the same, and included:

  • Paying attention to how you are perceived in person and online (which all make up your personal brand) can help you achieve mutually beneficial outcomes with the people you work with.
  • It is necessary to understand what shapes the way people see you, so that you can be aware of what is and isn’t working for you and make improvements – whether that be to your communication style, body language, appearance or online profile.
  • Reflecting on what you want to be known for and what you are exceptional at can help you shape how others perceive you and boost your own confidence, with the deep understanding of the value you bring to stakeholders.
  • When you are confident as a professional, others trust you much more readily.
  • When you take time to think about the point of view and ‘agenda’ of the other person, you will build trust through your communications.

Technical expertise and maintaining high ethical standards are expected of advisors. The ability to solve complex problems and communicate exceptionally well are now also required – and there is a lot that can be done to learn and improve these skills.