How to Become a Financial Coach (Part 1)

How do you become a financial coach? Well, did you know that financial coaching is a brand new field and anyone can call themselves a “financial coach”? It’s true! It’s the wild west out there. But that’s not the approach I’m taking. Sure, I have my PhD, but I want to become a SUPERB financial coach, and for that I need the method and the credentials. In this series, I’m going to share my journey with you as I work my way through the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) and the certification process.

Your first step in becoming a financial coach is figuring out your why. That’s right! WHY do you want to become a financial coach? If you can’t come up with a solid answer now, then turn around before you invest time and money in building a coaching business. And if your big WHY is that “I want to make money,” then you might be better off in another career. You see, the thing I really like about coaching is that I’m NOT selling or promoting an investment product. Instead, when people purchase my services, they are INVESTING in their own transformation. I get the privilege of guiding them on that transformation by giving them the tools, confidence, and hope. So your WHY should include a strong desire to help people.

I’ve known my “why” for quite some time, but here I was in week 1 of the “live” version of the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link), and my first assignment was to make a video of my why story. And that’s something I should have added to my Early Exit Academy website months ago. Now I had a deadline and I couldn’t procrastinate any longer. So after playing around with the camcorder, lighting setup, and video software, I made this why video.

Who Becomes a Financial Coach?

I opted to take the rather expensive “live” version of the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) because I wanted a more personalized experience and the opportunity to work more closely with the Academy’s founders (Michael and Kelsa Dickey). I am one of 20 students, so an unexpected perk will be getting to know my fellow students. As each student uploads a why video, I get a better sense of what drives people to become a financial coach. And it’s typically something very personal that happened in one’s own life, sometimes even a tragedy. That personal story is combined with a passion for helping others get their finances (and their lives) in order. So while anyone can become a financial coach, those who are drawn to the field are personally motivated.

Last week I attended Fincon2019, touted as the place where money and media meet. In addition to connecting with bloggers and finding resources to help me build my business, I sat in on a discussion session on financial coaching. Not only did the discussion confirm my decision to become a financial coach, I was struck by the opportunity to put my personal touches on my coaching business. And that means creating programs and methods that work best for my clients. Plus, I can target my services to a specific niche – I plan to coach women who have to manage their finances on their own (single, divorced, or widowed women). I’ll offer both in-person and online coaching.

How do I set up a Coaching Business?

Week 1 of the Academy included a section on legal matters – business structure, contracts, and insurance. Fun stuff, right? Well, if you become a coach and someone files a lawsuit involving your services, how will you protect your personal assets? But before those things can be done, you have to choose a business name. Here are the decisions I made last year when setting up my company.

  • My business name is my full name followed by “Enterprises,” which covers my business, consulting, and coaching entities. Also, I filed a “doing business as” (dba) document to legally recognize the Early Exit Academy.
  • I created a limited liability company (LLC) last year to handle any consulting gigs that come my way. (Here’s a good resource on how to start an LLC.)
  • I purchased general and professional liability insurance through Hiscox.

The big unknown for me is how to set up legal contracts. While I’m not looking forward to playing with legalese, a contract is really just a way of clarifying the expectations between client and coach. For a contract to be legally-binding, coaches should work with a local attorney to make sure their contract complies with state laws. One of the key lessons I learned was that as a coach, I can make exceptions – as long as those exceptions are more lenient. In addition to a client agreement, coaches should have a testimonial release form in which clients grant permission to use their testimony.

How do I Become a Certified Coach?

Since financial coaching doesn’t require formal training, the only way to distinguish myself from others is to become certified. So I’ll be chasing the designation of Certified Professional Financial Coach (CPFCoach), which requires the following.

  • Successful completion of the Financial Coach Academy course (affiliate link) or other approved program
  • Passing the short essay and multiple choice exams
  • Submitting and passing the “Why” video
  • Acquiring the proper business forms
  • Securing three testimonials from previous clients
  • Submitting proof of coaching 10 clients (at least 6 paying clients)
  • Completing annual continuing education requirements (12 hours)
  • Adhering to the Code of Ethics
  • Annual renewal and fee ($99)

I have to meet all requirements within 12 months of the date of application. My goal is to become certified in the first quarter of 2020.

Thoughts on Weeks 1 and 2 of the Academy

I was excited to start my journey with the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link). Now that I finished lesson 1, I’m eager to move on to lesson 2. Here are some random thoughts:

  • I’m glad I signed up for the “live” version. Some of the material is rather dense, so it helps to be able to ask questions and get feedback from the Academy instructors.
  • The Academy paired us into accountability partners. My partner is about an hour drive from here, and I’m looking forward to meeting up and sharing our experiences – a nice unexpected bonus for me.
  • The Academy is going to challenge me. Fortunately, I have my business model and insurance set up, but new coaches might feel a little overwhelmed with this aspect in particular. So far, the Academy has pushed me to clarify my “why” and identify my ideal client.
  • The Academy draws a diverse group of students from the US and beyond. I feel welcomed among a student population of men and women of different ages, races, and backgrounds. The diversity brings richness to the experience.

Read the Series

How to Become a Financial Coach (Part 2): Create the Back Office

How to Become a Financial Coach (Part 3): Learn Techniques and Create Programs

How to Become a Financial Coach (Part 4): Sales and Marketing

About the Author Brenda

Dr. Brenda is a financial coach, educator, researcher, and sociologist. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she is the founder of the Gutsy Women Club. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at

  • Jeff Nelson says:

    Great info. Looking forward to future posts on your financial coaching journey with this academy. I’d also be interested in knowing some of the approx. costs you are incurring along the way, including insurance, attorney/legal fees to establish your coaching biz, and other incidental costs. Thanks!

  • >