Kleinwort Benson

Transformative communication skills programme

An innovative communications skills training programme to help individuals and teams to make the most of networking opportunities and improve their ability to pitch and present wealth management propositions to potential clients.

Objective

Kleinwort Benson was looking for an innovative communications skills training programme to help its 60 private bankers make the most of networking opportunities and improve their ability to pitch and present its wealth management proposition to potential clients.

Approach

Steps worked with the bank's learning and development team to develop the two-day programme which included presentations practise, role plays of one-to-one encounters with prospective clients and simulations of formal business pitches. Steps worked in partnership with experienced vocal coaches Bliss Associates who provided voice training to help participants achieve greater impact and develop their confidence and effectiveness when communicating.

"To develop successful new client relationships, our private bankers need to be able to network and present effectively," said Reed Sylvester, Learning and Development Manager at Kleinwort Benson. "Networking is important because they have to make the most of any opportunities when they meet prospective clients informally. Also, they are often asked to present to potential clients, or to intermediaries such as solicitors, executors and accountants, so they have to be able to put information across clearly and in line with our corporate values. We wanted to provide training in these key business skills as part of our approach to developing our talented people."

Kleinwort Benson's private bankers began the programme by making a two-minute presentation on a non-work-related issue about which they felt passionate. They received feedback from the Steps presentation skills trainer, the voice coach and their colleagues. They then received specific training on voice issues. The group explored techniques based on breathing and posture, and developed an understanding of how to energise vocal delivery, modulate pitch and tone, increase clarity, control volume, manage speed of delivery, overcome nerves and eliminate unwanted non-verbal communication.

Each participant then made another two-minute presentation, this time highlighting factors that differentiate Kleinwort Benson as a private bank. "There was a significant improvement when the participants were asked to present again," said Reed Sylvester. "It was obvious that they had taken the learning messages on board."

On the second day, the participants took part in one-to-one role plays, with professional actors from Steps portraying prospective clients. The participants had to explain the bank's proposition and their role. Again, each participant received feedback on their communication style from the actor, the Steps presentation skills trainer, the voice coach and their colleagues. "The scenarios were lifelike and challenging. They allowed the participants to practise building rapport in a one-to-one encounter and also gave them the chance to tailor their advice to the individual's circumstances and aspirations," said Reed Sylvester. "The feedback provided by the Steps actors, who played the potential clients, was invaluable."

Following the role plays, the group discussed best practice approaches for handling informal one-to-one networking opportunities. Finally, the participants took part in a simulation. They were asked to make a five-minute pitch to a panel - including senior managers from Kleinwort Benson – who acted as potential clients. Following this, each participant received feedback from the panel, their colleagues, the voice coach and the Steps presentation skills trainer.

After the programme, each participant received a DVD of their presentations, together with bespoke communications skills notes and personalised advice on their strengths and areas for development as well as practical exercises.

Outcomes

"The presentations at the end of the programme showed us just how far the participants had come in the two days," said Reed Sylvester. "They found it an extremely useful and very enjoyable experience. The training helped our private bankers to more effectively convey the benefits and unique selling points of our approach to wealth management and the role plays and pitching experiences lifted it above anything that we have done in this area before. We're confident that our private bankers are now better placed to promote our proposition and our brand values to existing and prospective clients."

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Quote Mark The Steps scenarios were lifelike and challenging and the role plays and pitching experiences lifted it above anything that we have done in this area before. The feedback provided by the actor-facilitators was invaluable. Quote Mark Reed Sylvester, Learning and Development Manager, Kleinwort Benson
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