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Michael Kitces’ #FASuccess Podcast: How Financial Coaching Skills Enhance the Financial Planner’s Value Proposition, With Saundra Davis

What the financial coaching approach really entails and how it both differs and complements financial planning.


Welcome back to the 104th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast. This week’s guest is Saundra Davis. Saundra is the founder of Sage Financial Solutions, which provides training and develops certification programs to teach people the skills of financial coaching. What’s unique about Saundra is the way she’s integrating financial coaching with low-income financial counseling on one end and with financial planning for more affluent clients at the other end, and highlighting how, regardless of one’s income and affluence, anyone can struggle from time to time in their ability to align their financial behaviors with their financial goals.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about what the financial coaching approach really entails and how it both differs and complements financial planning, because, as Saundra puts it, financial planning covers the what, but financial coaching covers the why in order to jointly arrive at the how: how the process of financial coaching leads the advisor to ask substantively different questions, navigate the client discovery process in a different way, and how financial coaching helps to address the common challenge that we face as financial planners, when clients come in and engage us for financial planning and then fail to actually follow through and implement the recommendations that would clearly benefit them.

We also talk about some of the key tenets of effective financial coaching itself, including why the essence of financial coaching is not about asking questions about the client’s financial situation in order to get data but instead about asking powerful questions that both extract information for the plan and help clients make their own self-discoveries about their financial thinking. Why financial education is necessary but not sufficient enough to bring about financial behavior change, because, as Saundra says, you can’t do better if you don’t know better, but knowing better doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do better. Why it’s essential to hold your clients in high esteem and not judge their prior financial decisions and actions in order to help them, regardless of what you may personally think about their financial situation, and a recognition that in the end, we, as financial planners, can’t actually change our clients’ financial lives, but we can help them to change their own financial lives for the better.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Saundra shares information about the FFC and the Accredited Personal Financial Coach financial coaching designation she’s developed to help train financial planners in financial coaching skills, how Saundra drove her career success forward by making her own commitment to put $10,000 a year towards her professional education, and her advice to financial planners about the best way to really learn the power of financial coaching is to put yourself through the process, for which she actually has coaches going through the APFC designation who are looking for prospective clients to practice on or for any advisors who might be interested.

So whether you’re interested in learning more about ways to help clients implement the advice you give them, how financial coaching can enhance your value proposition to clients, or various pathways for advisors new to the profession, then we hope you enjoy this episode of Financial Advisor Success with Saundra Davis.


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