Along with a great bunch of financial planners, I’m mid-way through the excellent ‘Building the Behavioural Adviser’ course by Shaping Wealth.

    To explain, this is a cohort learning masterclass for advisers in behavioural finance about having deeper better conversations with clients about more than their money.

    As well as the modules we are set regular and stretching homework between the sessions and we do these in pods of three.

    Ahead of our last module we had our regular pod catch up and had such an incredible chat about prejudices, speaking about money with clients, our own financial stories and much more.

    The three of us were incredibly engaged with the subject matter and leaning hard into each other’s professional and personal experiences. It was this session, and the module that followed, that again got me thinking about what an incredible financial planning community we're so fortunate to belong to.

    Together, we have such fantastic opportunities to engage, learn and share, and we’re all experiencing first-hand the incredible benefits that come from being part of a strong network and engaging with like-minded individuals in a community setting.

    Whether we’re looking to grow our businesses, expand our skillset, or simply connect with others in our profession, the power of networking and learning and sharing as community learning are very evident.

    It's not just formal courses that offer these opportunities

    We’re blessed with a profession where others are happy to share their hard-won expertise with their peers. Contributing to the debate, sharing ideas and insights in writing, podcasts or on digital platforms, there is so much more available than there used to be.

    The training models of the past, and those offered by the professional bodies and financial training companies, are now being supplemented by practitioner-led learning, particularly in terms of what are often lumped together as ‘soft skills’. In the broader sense they encompass social, leadership, people, problem-solving, time-management, emotional and behavioural, cultural, listening, public speaking and presentation skills and so many more.

    However, these skills are often the hardest to acquire. Time, professional isolation, career stage, even our own personalities, can all hinder progress in acquiring those we would like to enhance. This is where I am so delighted at just how far we have come as a profession. It’s just incredible that so many advisers are willing to share their acquired knowledge to help their peer group with so many helpful learning opportunities, much of which used to be the preserve of training departments and companies and often came at considerable cost, if they were there at all.

    Peer group learning, on the other hand, allows us to engage with an individual or a group of individuals who share similar interests and goals. By participating in the many available communities and resources, we can’t help but learn from knowledge freely offered by others and can contribute our own knowledge and insights. In effect, this provides a support system as we work to achieving our own personal knowledge goals.

    Collaborative learning and problem solving

    One of the most powerful aspects I now see is the opportunity to engage in collaborative learning and problem-solving. By working with others to solve problems and tackle challenges, stepping out of our comfort zones or echo chambers, we can gain new perspectives and insights that we may not have considered on our own. Questions asked are answered to the benefit of all. This must lead to more creative and effective solutions, as it helps us critically think through issues.

    Of course, the benefits of networking and community learning extend beyond our professional lives. Engaging with others helps foster a sense of belonging, which can be incredibly valuable for our overall wellbeing and happiness. Social as well as professional.

    So, if you haven't already, I highly recommend taking the time to continue to build your professional network and engage with our community of like-minded individuals. Whether you're attending in-person or virtual events, participating in online forums and communities, or engaging more with what is available via your professional bodies, the benefits of networking and community learning are something akin to a superpower.

    Cohort, connectivity: it all comes down to community really.

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