How do you become a financial coach? Step 1 is knowing your “why” – your purpose. Step 2 is setting up the back office. The third step is learning techniques and setting up programs. While it’s possible to become a financial coach without any training whatsoever, I am taking the certification route with training provided by the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link). Here are the key take-aways from this phase of the Academy.
I’m a money geek. I love talking to people about money, but that doesn’t necessarily make me a good coach. Coaching is about teaching skills, so that clients are empowered to master their finances on their own. And not everyone has the capacity to be a great teacher, especially when you’re starting out. Fortunately, the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) provides guidance and examples on how to create tools and use effective techniques.
Over time, financial coaches should have an arsenal of tools that they can use to help clients move forward. For many coaches, the initial tool is a basic budget spreadsheet – see my ‘Where’s the Money’ worksheet. Other examples include net worth statements, pay off debt tools, and behavioral finance tips. Fortunately, I already had a long list of exercises and resources that I had developed for the Early Exit Academy. And as I build an enthusiastic clientele, I’m sure I will be creating and modifying tools as I discover common needs and solutions.
How does a coach help her client have the courage to face her finances, understand how her mindset affects her ability to grow wealth, and begin taking steps to master her money? A good coach has to be armed with effective questions, a structured approach, and content specific to the client’s needs. A great coach adds motivational techniques to her portfolio. And it’s a process of trial and error that should help you develop a coaching style that best suits your personality and produces results for your client.
The fun part for me (remember, I’m a money geek) was working with three beta clients to help them with their personal finances. In hindsight, my beta clients were probably not typical of the clients I might see in my practice. Each were frugal by nature and hated debt. But there was a common thread – fear of running out of money or being able to manage if her job ended. Their varying needs required me to move beyond the budget discussion and focus on net worth, debt, and retirement. After meeting with the first client, I changed my approach to create a warmer introduction and a better flow addressing the numbers. My hope is that this change creates a more personalized and effective session. But it will take time to perfect my methods.
The next step in the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) was program development. Coaching is a business and people should expect to be taken down a path that produces the desired outcomes. I had already spent considerable time coming up with my coaching programs, but thinking about the client’s journey and the specific skills they would acquire crystallized the content and structure of each of my programs.
A client journey is based on the ideal scenario. For example, I offer a 3-month House Hunters Program designed to help prospective home buyers get their financial house in order, before buying the house. Ideal clients go through a process in which they create goals, boost their credit scores, build a new budget based on potential purchase prices, and save for a down payment. That’s the ideal order of things. But some clients will have different needs. For instance, someone who already has a Good to Excellent credit score may want to jump ahead to saving for a down payment. So coaches have to be flexible and create options for clients who will be traveling a different route.
One of the exercises in the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) that I found most helpful is drafting a program skills checklist. Think of it as a skills ladder. As your clients progress through the programs, they should build an increasing number of skills that help them master their money. Here are some examples of skills:
My first lesson in the Financial Coach Academy (affiliate link) was on August 29. It’s two months later and I can’t believe the amount of information I have learned and the progress I have made. My website – DrBrendaMoneyCoach – is up and running and I’m ready to take on clients. But there’s one missing piece: how do I recruit clients? And the good news is that the Academy’s sales lab opens tomorrow. I can’t wait to learn how to turn coaching into a profitable business that helps people conquer their money worries!
Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, educator, blogger, motivator, and financial coach. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom through coaching at DrBrendaMoneyCoach and online courses at EarlyExitAcademy.com.