Financial Coaching: Could It Help You Accomplish Your Personal Finance Goals Faster?

If you’re reading this, you have probably been thinking you need help with your finances.  Depending on what you’re looking to accomplish, getting financial coaching could be extremely beneficial to you. A financial coach is a lot like a baseball or tennis coach.  They works with their clients to increase their abilities in ways they may not have though possible by themself.

But how do know if it’s the right path for you?  And would it be better to work with a financial advisor? What can you expect to gain from working with a financial coach? How much will it cost?

If you are anything like me, you approach unfamiliar concepts with a bit of skepticism, particularly when it comes to money.  You seek to better understand and demystify the unknown.  

Only then can you form your own opinion.  If it sounds like you go through a similar process as well, then this post should provide you some objective points to consider.

financial coaching is like tennis coaching

A financial coach is a lot like a tennis coach.  They both work to help their clients be the best they can be.

What does a financial coach do?

A financial coach will work with their clients to understand their long-term financial goals.  They then help them develop both the strategy and tactics needed for achieving them. Their focus is ultimately on helping their clients develop a foundational knowledge of personal finance .  Coaches also develop their clients critical thinking skills about money, so that the client can self-solve in the future.

Benefits of personal finance coaching

Working with a financial coach comes along with a ton of benefits that can help you with your finances and in life more broadly.  Here are few examples of the benefits you receive.

  • Ability to clearly define realistic, achievable goals with the right motivation
  • Define the specific tactics and priorities required for your goals
  • Increased confidence and productivity
  • Accountability, both to yourself and to your coach
  • Encouragement, support and a confidential sounding board for questions you may feel uncomfortable sharing with others
  • Improvements to your overall net worth, income and credit scores
  • Help with understanding the full financial picture, including how reducing debt, increasing savings, retirement planning, real estate and life insurance all play a critical role

Financial coach vs. financial advisor

financial advisor comparison

Source: Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The primary difference between a financial coach and a financial advisor is the problem they are trying to solve.  A coach will try to understand and evolve the financial habits and limiting money beliefs that are hindering their client’s potential to build wealth.

They don’t have a vested interest in the specific products or investments their clients pursue.  Their objective is to provide support  for their clients overall financial plan.

In fact, if a coach is offering you investment advice about specific financial products, be wary.  This type of guidance is highly regulated by the SEC and requires specific training and licenses.  Most coaches would not have do not these.  

On the other hand, financial advisors focus on understanding their client’s goals, so they can provide options that support them.  The work to identify the specific financial products and investments that best supports those goals.  In this regard, the relationship is more transactional in nature. 

That doesn’t mean an independent financial advisor won’t work with their clients over a long-term period.  It just means their interactions tend to be more reactive in nature.  A financial advisor also has legal and fiduciary obligations, which requires them to participate in ongoing education and licensing.

What problems to financial coaches solve?

Financial coaches solve the problems their clients are most concerned about. This is often not clear to the person being coached, which is why they need help in the first place.  Being a coach involves primarily listening and asking probing questions.  This facilitates the process of self-discovery.  Instead of telling a client what behaviors they think need to be addressed, the client self-identifies them.

How does personal finance coaching work?

Coaches traditionally operate by having regularly scheduled sessions with their clients, either individually or in a group setting.  This starts with an initial intake session where background is shared on both sides.  

This session also creates the foundations for the relationship to be developed upon. The engagement model is  ongoing over a period of months or years. The exact frequency of the sessions is unique to each coaching and client relationship.

During these session coaches will work to help clients understand their own goals.  They do this through conversation and action-oriented tools and exercises.  This frequently includes homework that needs to be done between sessions.  Follow-up discussions help create accountability for the client.

What makes someone a good candidate for coaching?

Almost anyone can be a good candidate to coach finance, as long as they are seeking to improve how they approach personal finance.  

A big part of having successful coaching experience is recognizing that you have areas that can be improved.  Without that self-awareness it's difficult for a coach to help you adjust the underlying habits and behaviors limiting you.

That said, it’s recommended that the customer have a stable financial situation and not be in crisis mode, like facing bankruptcy.  For that reason those individuals usually benefit from more prescriptive guidance, which is not what coach provides.

What qualifies someone to become a financial coach?

financial coaching and hockey team

A good money coach should bring many positive qualities to the table.  These include empathy, listening, and financial acumen.  The surprising thing is that the financial knowledge is probably the least important since much of what they do is ask questions, not give advice.  

This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be financially savvy.  Rather it's just more important for them lead their clients through self-discovery, as opposed to always giving specific financial advice. 

Can you earn a financial coaching certification?

Yes!  There are several places where you can get trained to be a certified financial coach, like through the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) or Dave Ramsey’s certification program

Keep in mind, there is nothing that says you need to have a personal finance coach certification. You’ll often find financial life coaches who are “self-certified” by the amount of coaching experience they have under their belt.  When it comes to coaching, above all experience plays a huge part in your success.

An important validation of a coach’s ability is how the client feels coming out of a coaching session. For that reason coaches will often offer the first appointment for free as a trial run.

How much does financial coaching cost?

Financial coaching fees vary from coach to coach, and is dependent on several variables like frequency, class size, client goals (e.g. budget help, improving your cash flow, paying off credit card debt). 

A study by the National Finance Educators Council found that on average, financial coaching rates are around $257 an hour.  The actual cost is determined by length of engagement, what frequency they meet, and the actual setting i.e. in a group, virtual, in-person, one-on-one.

How to find a coach?

There isn’t a one-stop shop for money coaching services.  Performing a quick google search of “financial coach near me” will bring up options to check out.  

Often they will be small, boutique business, therefore you’ll want to engage in your own due diligence.  Take the time to talk with the coaches individually so you can get a feel for how they operate.  Consequently, some people offer free intake sessions for this very reason. 

Conclusion

Financial coaches provide a very beneficial service to the right people.  The key is to understand above all else, what you want out of the experience before going in.  In some cases, you may be better served with a financial advisor or financial planner.  If you do determine that coaching is something you’d like to explore, make sure you take your time and do your due diligence.  Everyone’s experience with a coach is different and you need to find the relationship that works best for you and your goals.

Have you worked with a financial coach before?  What was your experience? 

Leave a comment below and let us know!

About the Author

Hello, I'm Ryan Rollins. I've been passionate about personal finance and entrepreneurship for as long as I can remember. After earning my Bachelors of Science in Business and Marketing, I soon found myself at my first software start-up. That experience led to me earning my MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville, and eventually to a career in the fintech industry focusing on educating consumers about the importance of being financially resilient. Learn more about me here, and you can also follow me on twitter @TMPF_Ryan and Linkedin.

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