Financial Coaching defined
A financial coaching engagement is a confidential, judgement-free relationship with a personal finance expert who will help clients clearly understand their current financial situation. The coach will help the client clarify their goals, suggest changes as needed, and develop a plan to align client-specific priorities with a financial plan to achieve financial freedom.
Just as athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs often utilize coaches to improve themselves and their ventures, a financial coach will come alongside and help individuals and families improve their personal financial situation through education, guidance, standard practices, and accountability.
You may have heard the term “money coach”, which some people use interchangeably with financial coach. In most cases a money coach is a more specific role – dealing exclusively with handling money. A financial coach certainly helps with money but also provides coaching on career, estate planning, insurance, and other related topics.
What does a Financial Coach do?
A financial coach doesn’t do the work for a client but rather helps empower the client to implement important changes and processes to improve their financial fitness and develop a plan to achieve their goals and live the life of their dreams.
More specifically a personal financial coach will help clients clarify their goals and priorities, then focus all tasks through that very personal lens. Help is provided in developing and maintaining personal financial statements to reflect net worth (wealth measurement – which is a key metric toward goal accomplishment), cash flow (aka budgeting, which directly impacts net worth changes), getting out of debt, college and retirement planning, insurance coverage, investment education and planning, and commonly relational topics.
Finance coaches can also help on the income side of the equation, giving some tips and guidance on career planning, ways to generate extra income, and even preparing for starting your own business.
What makes a good financial coach?
A great financial coach has the best interests of the client always as the key focus. This may or may not be what the client wants to hear, but it should definitely be what the client needs to hear.
A great financial coach takes the time to understand the clients’ specific situation, works with them to clarify concerns, goals, and dreams, and then makes sure all discussions are in the context of the clients’ personal priorities.
A great financial coach does not sell any third-party products like investments or insurance. There is nothing wrong with those services, but your financial coach should have no financial incentive to recommend any specific financial product – and will provide unbiased guidance that is always in the best interest of the client.
A great financial coach has life experiences and has specifically learned-from, and corrected, past mistakes. No one is perfect and challenges in the past can make a financial coach more understanding and compassionate. A financial coach should be a model for clients and have their own financial house in order. Our financial coaches all practice what they preach.
Is financial coaching for you?
Financial coaching is ideal for people who have realized that their financial situation isn’t quite in the place where they know it should be, and they want someone to help walk alongside them to guide them into a place of enhanced financial fitness.
Understand that engaging with a financial coach is going to take some work. Gathering data and clarifying a complete financial situation takes some time and effort. Trust us – it’s all worth it.
What financial coaching isn’t
If you want someone to manage your investments and your money for you, then you probably want an investment advisor and not a financial coach. A coach will help you understand and navigate all the options so that you can make the best educated decision possible for your finances – but a financial coach won’t tell you specifically what to invest in or manage your investments for you. Managing investments doesn’t need to be overly complex (in fact, complexity often lowers returns), so the average person definitely can handle their own investments, but if you have the money to pay for full-time investment management, there are other professionals who can do that for you. Even then the two services are complimentary because a coach can help give an unbiased perspective and teach you what you need to know to be a good investment client.
If you want to hand all of your documents and paperwork to someone and have them put together a plan for you, then you might want a financial planner rather than a financial coach. Just like athletes and other performers need to do the actual work to be successful, such is the same case with most people and their personal finances. Financial planners can serve a need for specific clients with certain levels of estate size and complexity. Most people don’t need a financial planner. Yes, they need a financial plan, but the average American is fully capable of understanding the related basic principles and developing a household financial plan for themselves.
If you want a quick and easy fix or a get-rich quick scheme – then a financial coach isn’t for you. A financial coach can likely make some suggestions that will have some immediate positive impact on your financial situation, but achieving true financial freedom takes time. Getting out of debt and building wealth is not a sprint activity – it is more like a marathon. A financial coach can also often guide people to improve their income situation, through career advancements, changes, or sometimes “side gigs” (sources of additional income) but there too this is an extended journey to maximize these results.
Popular Financial Coaching Topics Covered
Here are some typical services that financial coaches are trained to help people with. This isn’t comprehensive but does reflect the most common areas a financial coach helps their clients.
Emergency Funding. More than 60% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, and 8 out of 10 people live paycheck-to-paycheck. A financial coach can help clarify the risks, a recommended level of emergency fund savings, and some ways to reach this level of savings – achieving the first step toward removing stress from your financial situation.
Budgeting and Cashflow. Budgeting is “simple” but not necessarily “easy”. The ideas and concepts are not very hard to understand but putting together a budget (also known as a cash flow plan) can be a challenge – especially trying to do it on your own without proper guidance and tools. Financial coaches have the resources and experience to help develop a cash flow plan so that you can tell your money where to go and make sure that expenses line up with your personal priorities.
Debt Management and Elimination. Debt and related payments are the biggest drain on someone’s cash flow planning – and the biggest obstacle preventing people from becoming wealthy. Having a plan to deal with debt, and ultimately eliminate it from your life, is key to financial fitness.
Saving for Retirement and Other Big Goals. Have a child? They’re likely going to need money to attend secondary education (college or otherwise) at some point. Don’t want to work until you are 90? You’re going to need an adequate retirement account to enjoy a retirement you can enjoy. Too many people don’t have written goals for these types of big goals and have not spoken with a financial professional to help map out a plan. A financial coach can help clarify these types of big goals, help align then with overall personal priorities, and help you put together a plan to achieve success in these big areas.
Clarifying Insurance. Some people are underinsured; some are actually overinsured. A financial coach doesn’t sell insurance but they are educated on the different types of common industry recommendations. They can help you understand your options so that you can make smart decisions to mitigate risk, while not getting taken advantage of.
Is Financial Coaching Right for Me?
Financial coaching isn’t for everyone, but it would definitely benefit most people.
If you are a true do-it-yourself person who is financially savvy and has been managing your own budget and investments for years, financial coaching might not be necessary for you (though there might also still be some benefits too).
If you are like most people who don’t have the time or interest to research financial topics and integrate those topics on your own – and you would like to accelerate your financial success – having a financial coach come along and walk with you through this process can be extremely beneficial.
What’s the Next Step?
The first step is realizing that your financial fitness level isn’t quite where it should be, and that a financial expert’s assistance is for you. The next step after that is to contact us to discuss your specific situation and see how we can help.
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