The ClientWise Blog

Financial Advisors: “Don’t let other people tell you what you want.”

Posted by Chris Holman on May 16, 2013 9:21:00 AM

Pat Riley said this.

If you know sports and basketball, you know Pat Riley. He’s a former coach and player. He’s now president of the Miami Heat. He’s regarded as one of the best coaches of all time. He’s also a superb motivator, and the source of many inspirational sayings, of which this is one of the best.

Of all of Pat Riley’s achievements, he is not a coach in the ICF sense, i.e. an executive coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Yet this quote pretty much sums up one of the cornerstones of ICF-based coaching.




Financial Advisors and Expectations

It’s interesting. When you think about it, financial advisors live in the world of expectations. Of course, there are earnings expectations, and their ubiquitous influence on stock prices. But advisors are often subject to the expectations of many others: clients, peers, managers, firms, friends, family, spouses, etc. Truly, the list seems endless.

Wall Street and the stock market despise disappointing expectations. What’s also interesting is that this is also true of most successful financial advisors. It is not in their DNA to disappoint. Indeed, the polar opposite seems to be true. Under-Promise, Over-Deliver, and Never-Disappoint is a credo that many advisors live by.

This all begs the question. What about your own expectations? What do you want?

Therein lies the power of business coaching, and the reason that coaching is so beneficial for financial advisors. Coaching allows you to dig deep and get to your own expectations. Coaching is the time and space where you figure it out on your own.


Holding the Client’s Agenda

One of the core and distinctive precepts of business coaching is this: the agenda comes from the client, not the coach. This client-focused approach carries through to the entire coach-coachee relationship.

For example:

  • The coaching relationship is focused entirely on achieving what the client wants.
  • The coach’s role is to keep the client’s agenda in the forefront, and to make sure that this agenda doesn’t get lost.
  • While the client focuses on the ongoing changes that they are making in their life, the coach “holds onto the client’s agenda”.
  • This often means that the coach’s mission is to support their client to articulate their dreams, desires, and aspirations, help them clarify their mission purpose and goals and guide them to achieve this outcome.
  • This guiding principle separates coaching from other disciplines, e.g. consulting, where the consultant brings a specialized expertise and very often sets the agenda for the relationship.


The Tyranny of Best Practices

Interestingly, many financial advisors have grown up in the industry with the belief that there is one superior way to do something that works to the exclusion of every other way, i.e. the best practice.

Coaching is the antidote to the tyranny of “best practices”. Coaching is rooted in the belief  -- the certainty really -- that clients do know the way, or their own best practice. Coaching adheres to the belief that if clients look inside themselves (with the help of a coach), they’ll discover what they really want, what they fear and holds them back, what motivates them, as well as their true purpose and vision. In some cases, financial advisors may have never sought out these answers before. Yet, one of the observable truths of coaching is that clients are more resourceful, more effective and more persuaded when they find their own answers.

Most powerfully, when clients find the answers themselves, they own it. Not the coach. Not the consultant. Not the firm. Not your manager. Not anyone else.

This is what makes business coaching so effective in implementing transformational change.


“Don’t let other people tell you what you want.”


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Topics: Coaching