One of our latest blogs, 6 Essential Coaching Skills that ALL Financial Professionals Must Have I outlined the ways in which coaching is explicitly different from consulting, advising or mentoring. The skills that differentiate coaching from these other forms of professional development are also the elements that make it beneficial for financial advisors; not only within their own coaching as it works to improve their businesses, but also when working IN their business while interacting with clients.
In this follow-up article, I examine how these same coaching skills can help financial advisors’ businesses specifically from these two perspectives: First, for the advisor as it relates to the personal growth of their business, and secondly for the advisor as it relates to the growth of relationships with their clients.
Coaching is a partnership: This is key. The work done in coaching is between two equals working together to solve a problem or advance the success of a business. While there are moments that the coach guides the conversation through questioning, the goals are determined by the coachee.
How this helps the advisor: Rightfully so, many advisors are protective of the businesses they have invested years of time and energy into building. Thus, while they like the idea of finding “the secret sauce” or “the silver bullet” that will help transform their businesses, more often than not they are wary of any program than promises to do so. As the founder and driver of their businesses, the most effective progress is made when someone recognizes this contribution and agrees to partner with them in discovering the best solutions together, not tell them what that solution is.
How this helps the client/investor: Understanding the partnership aspect of a coaching conversation can create an entirely different relationship between the advisor and the client. Advisors who learn to take this partnership approach with clients are received in a better light, which gives them greater access to information and increases their clients’ trust in their ability to help them achieve their goals.
Coaching is question-based: Coaching is a discovery and exploration based process. The questions asked are open-ended and intended to get the coachee to open up and, through this, find a discovery process for themselves through the guidance, partnership, and accountability of the coach.
How this helps the advisor: Having to answer open-ended questions shifts advisors perspective on their challenges to see things in a different light than they may have previously. Especially when coming from this outside objective, the question-and-answer approach can reveal information about the advisors’ current processes and perspectives, and expose new insights as they relate to their ultimate goals.
How this helps the client/investor: The coaching questions that an advisor hears from their coach work to reframe the approach they take with their investor clients. Learning the types of questions that are most revealing helps an advisor get to the crux of their clients’ needs more quickly and effectively.
Coaching is a listening-exercise: Everything the coach draws from the experience to guide the coachee comes from LISTENING and understanding the coachees’ situation based on what he or she is sharing with the coach, rather than what the coach might presume to be true of the situation. Unlike advising or mentoring, it doesn’t draw upon the experience or expertise of the person listening.
How this helps the advisor: This has the effect of giving the advisor the confidence to realize that, more often than not, they have the resources to draw from their own experiences and understanding to solve their current problems. It also helps them by forcing the person in the coaching position to stay on task with the objectives with which they are currently struggling.
How this helps the client/investor: When a financial advisor is fully present in their listening with a client/investor, they are able to combine this presence with their industry expertise to truly hear the life goals that underlay their clients’ financial goals. This is an incredibly important differentiator for advisors in terms of relationship building and finding advocates in both client and professional connections.
Coaching is always about the coachee and his or her goals: The objective of the coach is to uncover as much about the coachee as possible as it relates to the ultimate goal of the coachee. It’s designed to understand the greatness in a coachee, his or her goals, and where he or she might be experiencing gaps in reaching those goals.
How this helps the advisor: The reason that so many consulting and advising programs work very well for a few advisors and not so well for many is because they are based on the experience of a single or very few successes. The difference with coaching is that it doesn’t take the advisor off the track of their own goals by focusing on successes specific to other professionals. Instead, it remains incredibly focused on what the advisor has in mind for his or her own success using tactics that are proven to work for that person.
How this helps the client/investor: in the same way that a coach is able to put the focus entirely on the client to make progress in his or her own goals, an advisor can do the same for their clients. This, like the partnership aspect, also helps increase the trust of investors in their advisors, enabling the advisor to better help them make appropriate decisions based on their desired financial futures.
Coaching is forward-thinking: Unlike certain types of self improvement and development, coaching rarely asks advisors to look to their past for solutions. Instead, it asks you to identify your current situation and move forward from there, by thinking of future-based potential.
How this helps the advisor: Some of the self-development methods enlisted by professionals are focused on correcting or changing situations they’ve experienced or techniques they’ve employed in the past. Rather than looking forward, they focus on, and as a result, get stuck in, the past. Coaching doesn’t take this risk.
How this helps the client/investor: In the same way that professional habits are die hard, so do financial ones… if not to an even greater extreme. Advisors who invite their clients to look back at their past mistakes rather than forward at their future goals may experience some progress at first, but will hardly gain the level of success that they would if they ask their clients to embark on a process that keeps them looking forward.
Coaching is not leading: Coaching is dependent on the coachee doing the work. The coach never enters into a partnership assuming that they know anything more about the situation at hand than the coachee.
How this helps the advisor: It helps the advisor build their wealth management practice in the vision in which they initially set out, drawing on knowledge they know to be true about how they work with clients and what they want the outcome of that to be.
How this helps the client/investor: This non-leading style helps the client/investor realize financial and life goals that are important to them, not those that are important in the mind of the advisor. This keeps the relationship true to the objective of the client, which bodes well for both them, and for their ability to recommend the advisor to others they know who need help realizing their ideal financial futures.