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When it pays to hire a coach

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Financial advisors who are looking to achieve big business breakthroughs are increasingly turning to coaching and training programs for help. The reason: While traditional learning outlets like conferences tend to focus on one or two discreet ideas, coaching takes a more holistic approach that focuses on how financial advisors can maximize their entire businesses.

Given the scope of challenges advisors today face — from retaining current clients to attracting ideal new ones to increasing efficiencies and keeping up with regulatory changes — it makes sense that many are seeking training that takes their entire practices into account and helps all the moving parts work in concert.

Full disclosure: I am the CEO of a coaching firm. But my goal is not to sell you on my firm — or even on coaching itself. Enlisting a coach is not the right move for every financial advisor. In fact, my firm turns away more than half the advisors who explore working with us because they simply aren’t a right fit. My goal here is to help you understand what coaching really is, how to decide if it’s right for you, and what to look for in a coaching program.

First, coaching helps many financial advisors achieve their desired results much like how a personal trainer might help you follow through on a workout regimen. Coaching can also greatly enhance financial advisors’ productivity around the core activities of their firm, and thereby reduce their overall workload.

The bottom line result: accelerated success. With a coach, financial planners can often accomplish in two to three years, what would have taken five years on their own.

Obviously, each coaching program will differ depending on who is doing the coaching. But any good program should focus on three major goals:

1. Dramatically enhanced client impact: Your clients should be so happy with you that they become your marketing disciples and actively help you grow your business. How? By giving you more of their assets to manage and proactively introducing you to ideal prospective clients.

The advisors who tend to get the biggest impact from coaching share one attribute: an entrepreneurial outlook.

2. Substantial growth of net income and equity value. Truly effective coaching should result in a minimum increase in net income and equity value of 25% in year one. Mere incremental growth should not be acceptable to a great coach.

3. A significantly higher quality of life. A coach can help you have fewer, more enjoyable clients; a streamlined business model that reduces headaches and burnout; easier acquisition of new assets and affluent clients; the ability to take more time off work and more money to fulfill life goals. All these things add up to a higher quality of life for you and those around you.

To ensure that participants achieve those goals, a coaching program should provide specific strategies and tactics that are results-oriented, highly actionable and proven to work. Taken as a whole, they should provide a track to run on and a clear path forward.

Of course, at the core of the coaching experience is a great personal relationship with a coach. Good coaches will monitor their clients’ performance to identify and capitalize on their key strengths, and minimize their weaknesses. They will hold their clients accountable, be their advocates, act as sounding boards and give a push when needed.

To see how coaching might support your success as a financial advisor, you need to understand how it might impact your business. In coaching hundreds of financial advisors, CEG Worldwide has seen the most dramatic changes in areas such as:

  • Assets under management: Significant AUM growth can be generated in a number of ways. Acquiring the right types of affluent clients and capturing additional assets from existing clients are two of the best ways to ramp up AUM.
  • Type and number of clients: By setting minimums, financial advisors often end up working with fewer, wealthier clients — while managing more assets and earning higher incomes.
  • Client relationship management: Financial advisors develop systems to ensure high-quality, consistent client service that affluent investors demand.
  • Capacity to serve affluent clients: Many financial advisors position themselves to address noninvestment concerns (such as wealth protection and wealth transfer) along with their traditional investment management role to meet the affluent’s diverse, complex financial needs.
  • Client acquisition strategies. Financial advisors learn to move away from mass marketing strategies to much more effective strategies, such as strategic alliances with other professionals and exclusive private events.

As useful as coaching can be, it isn’t right for all advisors. If you are satisfied with your business and quality of life, you probably don’t need coaching. But if you are frustrated with some or many aspects of your business — or just think you can accomplish a lot more — coaching is worth considering.

Truly effective coaching should result in a minimum increase in net income and equity value of 25% in year one. Incremental growth should not be acceptable.

The advisors who tend to get the biggest impact from coaching share one attribute: an entrepreneurial outlook. Many of these advisors actually think of themselves as entrepreneurs first and as financial advisors second.

Entrepreneurial financial advisors think big. They challenge themselves to completely redefine progress: Tripling assets under management, cutting the number of clients served by 75% and similar BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) are common. They also act big, pulling out all the stops to make the changes necessary to reach their big goals.

For advisors with such goals, coaching can be a huge help. In contrast, financial advisors with smaller, more incremental goals may not find the time, expense and commitment required of a coaching program to be worth it. Traditional learning methods can be great resources for those advisors.

To find a program that is truly focused on helping you generate results in your practice, look for the following key attributes:

  • Proven industry-specific experience: The coaches should have proven track records of helping advisors achieve significantly higher levels of success.
  • Actionable strategies rooted in proven research and facts: The program should be based on best practices and processes that have been proven effective.
  • A screening process: Rather than automatically saying “yes” to every financial advisor who wants in, a program should evaluate candidates to determine if they fit with the approach and have the drive to reach for big goals. This will help ensure success for the entire group.
  • Toolkits: Look for programs that provide a full set of turnkey tools (such as templates, scripts and thought leadership content) that make it easy to implement specific strategies and tactics to move upmarket and capture additional assets under management.
  • Measurable results: The program should measure key success metrics of its participants, enabling those participants and prospects to calculate their own potential return on investment.

Coaching can help many financial advisors achieve significant success and leap over hurdles faster than they could otherwise. That said, coaching is not a silver bullet for all financial advisors’ problems. Your best bet: Consider if you have the entrepreneurial outlook that could make you a good candidate for coaching. If you do, evaluate your coaching program options carefully. Given the growth in coaching services in recent years, you’ll almost certainly find a program that can help you achieve the goals you most want for your business, your clients and your life.

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