To advisors who would ask, “Do I need a personal coach?” I respond, “Michael Jordan had one, and Tiger Woods employs one.”
Even the best financial advisor can benefit from a coaching relationship, provided the relationship is approached with an open mind.
Unfortunately, the process of choosing a coach can be confounding. All manner of people from within and without the brokerage industry pitch themselves as experts of one kind or another, and differentiating between the contenders and pretenders can be very confusing.
With this in mind, I've broken the selection process into seven steps.
Step 1: Know what you need. Coaching is not therapy, counseling, consulting or mentoring. Good coaches emphasize learning and action. They are present- and future-oriented. They explore actions that demonstrate high self-esteem and are linked to specific areas of improvement. In a good coaching relationship, your coach will help you remain focused, stay on task, even when you'd rather be doing something else.
Step 2: Be clear about your objectives. Coaching is unique for each financial advisor. While your coach may challenge you to expand beyond your comfort zone and consider alternative options, it is critical for you to be in the driver's seat of the relationship, and of your future. Avoid being placed into some “cookie-cutter” one-size-fits-all coaching relationship. All goals must be your goals, and by being clear about where you want to go, your coach will have a clearer framework for working with you.
Step 3: Trust your intuition. When you talk with a prospective coach, do you get a good feeling from that conversation? As you embark on your journey with a coach, you need to feel confident that you have selected someone who will be with you every step of the way.
Step 4: It's important to do your homework. Prepare questions in advance of talking with a potential coach. Do not not be afraid of expecting too much; you'll want to base those questions on what you want out of the relationship. Also ask specific questions about such things as fees, confidentiality and policies.
Step 5: Find out your coach's style. Beware of coaches whose methodology is described using the latest buzzwords and catch phrases. Make sure their approach makes sense to you. If you hear anything like; “I use a co-active coaching style” or “My coaching focuses on macro and micro integral transformation to define future openings and gaps,” ask for clarification.
Step 6: Get references. Contact those people and ask them what the relationship with this coach has done for them. You will want to know whether or not this coach helped them achieve what they wanted to achieve and whether he provided the support, feedback and accountability they both needed and wanted. Also inquire about the coach's accessibility and style.
Step 7: Get a sample coaching session. If you are feeling comfortable about the coach you've been talking to, ask for a free sample coaching session. Most coaches will offer a free half-hour session with a potential client. It's not quite the same as a “regular” coaching session, but it will give you an idea of the coach's style and what to expect. Let me give you a word of caution: don't look to a free coaching session as a means to solve a problem. Your objective is to have an experiential understanding of your potential coaching relationship.
Having spent 25 years making numerous mistakes in my own coaching relationships, I am convinced that the above steps can help a financial advisor choose a coach who's a good fit for him. When approached correctly, coaching lets the advisor perform at a level he could have never achieved on his own. This is something to aspire to, even if the selection process can be a little taxing, because it ensures you will get the coaching you need to help you achieve your goals, and your coach will enjoy a rewarding coaching experience.
Writer's BIO: Matt Oechsli
is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients.