By: Mary J Fourie, Lifestyle Financial Planning Coach
How do you coach clients in order to meet their financial goals whilst supporting financial planning behaviour?
In order to answer the question of how to coach we must first explore what coaching is and is not. Coaching is not an airy-fairy, hippy practice of conversation focused on touchy-freely stuff. Coaching is a professional skill to be developed through the same fundamentals that ground the pathway to becoming a Certified Financial Planner : education, examination, experience and ethics. Coaching is a profession with both a global and local professional membership body called the International Coaching Federation (ICF), not unlike the FPSB or FPI. In order to be competent to coach and be able to call oneself a coach one needs to understand what coaching is and follow the prescribed learning pathway.
Coaching is the opposite of advice. It is not about telling a client what to do or giving them suggestions of how to solve their problems. Coaching is a collaborative relationship of partnership; two human beings on a journey of exploration together. In a coaching relationship there is only one expert in the room and it’s isn’t you, it’s your client. As a coach, it’s not your job to know the answer, only to be there supporting your client whilst they do the work to uncover it.
Why do we care about coaching and integrating it into our financial planning practice? Because your clients financial problems are not because they don’t have a debit order for a financial product. Their problems are that they don’t have the mindset and behaviour that together will create the results they want for their money and their life. As a coach, you can help them see this and choose to make the changes needed. This is important because you cannot control your client or save them from their own self-destructive behaviour. Behaviour is motivated by thoughts which are driven by emotions. If we want to see our clients succeed, we need to be able to communicate with our clients about their emotions, thoughts and behaviour where money and their lives are concerned.
Financial coaching is focused on a client’s relationship with and experience of money. It involves exploring what a client thinks, feels and how they act where money is concerned. A financial coach helps their client make the connection between their behaviour with money and the life they have created. Taking a coaching approach to financial planning helps you help your client identify their values, what is important to them including clarifying their life goals and exploring whether how they earn and spend their money is in alignment with such.
Before you can integrate coaching into your financial planning practice you need to understand it and believe in its value. You need to decide that it’s a skill you want to develop, and you need to approach learning to coach with an open beginners mind where you allow yourself to accept that as coach you will not be the expert and have all the answers. In order to do this you need to practice and develop your own curious mindset and allow yourself to sit in a space of “I don’t know” when in conversation with your clients. A great first step is to practice listening and allowing your clients to speak more than you do and when you do, to ask more questions than you give answers. Finally you’ll need to look at your financial planning process and be willing to redesign it to incorporate coaching conversations into it.
As it’s not easy to take the theory of coaching and apply it to the practice of financial planning I’ve created “The Journey 2 Freedom 11 Step Coached Financial Planning Model”. It takes the 6 Step Financial Planning model that you will be familiar with and expands on it to incorporate the ICF’s Core Competency’s.
If you’re keen to start, then you can start by trying a different way of talking to new clients when you meet with them and practice listening more. Other ways to connect with them involve asking open-ended questions like “Tell me about the important people in your life.” instead of “How many children do you have?” or by asking courageous questions like “What does money mean to you?” or “What is your earliest experience of money?” or “Why is it ok for you to have money?”
If you’re really serious about learning to coach then go find an ICF accredited Coach Training Programme or a Coaching Skills Programme facilitated by ICF Credentialed Coaches at PCC or MCC level.
It’s a journey, it requires unlearning some of what you know. One of the most important things to shift in your own mindset is to realize and believe that the greatest value you offer, where you integrate a coaching approach into your financial planning practice is to show up as a believer and champion of your client’s ability to direct their own lives, whilst using your expertise to support them through the many challenges, changes and uncertainties they may face along the way, without telling them what to do.
All the expertise, products and service to help you to keep your clients focused on the destination.
Momentum Investments is part of Momentum Metropolitan Life Limited, an authorised financial services (FSP6406) and registered credit (NCRCP173) provider.