Call Your Lifeline

Getting instant phone support from a coach when you need it can help move you forward in myriad professional situations.

By Ray Sclafani

April 1, 2007 – Frank, an independent advisor working in the Bay area, had a problem. Soon he would have the opportunity to make a presentation to his biggest prospect to date—a $23 million account—but he felt unprepared for the meeting. Although he was a seasoned professional who’d been in the business for more than 15 years, he didn’t know how to articulate the value he could bring to the table for his ultrahigh-net-worth prospect. Feeling anxious and in need of support, he called his coach.

Frank’s coach asked him several targeted questions to help pinpoint the qualities that truly differentiate him from his competitors in the planning arena. Together they arrived at the conclusion that one of Frank’s core strengths was building diversified bond portfolios that generate a high degree of alpha without increasing active portfolio risk. This bond portfolio know-how then became the base around which he could create a compelling presentation. With his coach on the line, he practiced articulating how he would sell this unique skill to his prospect. As a result of the question-and-answer session with his coach, his presentation was successful and the prospect decided to move his entire bond allocation over to Frank’s practice, thus setting the stage for a profitable new relationship.


As this example illustrates, getting immediate help can be a very important part of the overall coaching experience. Often referred to as just-in-time coaching, this on-the-fly assistance is about helping the planner become unstuck. At times, financial advisors may have mental blocks that they need to address in order to move a situation forward.

A call to a coach can help you clear unwanted clutter out your head and organize your thoughts, allowing you to achieve the results you want. This clutter need not be coming from just professional concerns. Sometimes a block in your relationships with a family member or spouse can prevent you from making progress at work. If you are thinking about working with a coach, be sure to ask if he or she offers some form of immediate assistance, and have a clear understanding of the coach’s availability for accessing that support.

Here are six common ways to use just-in-time coaching to achieve immediate results.

Role playing. Let’s say you’re about to meet with a client who is unhappy with their account performance. Your coach can play the role of the client, allowing you to practice what you plan to say.

Brainstorming. If you are trying to decide which market niche you should focus your planning business around, for example, brainstorming with your coach can help you generate new ideas.

Strategizing. You want to bring on a new associate and want to discuss if a candidate you’ve just interviewed would be a smart addition to your team. A quick call to your coach can help solidify your impressions.

Prioritizing. You have too much to do and feel like you aren’t getting the right things done. Your coach can help you create a game plan for the week in five minutes or less.

Reflecting. You’ve just had a meeting with a CPA with whom you’d like to build up a referral network. Your coach can help you identify what went well and what could be improved in future networking meetings.

Balancing. Say you’ve recently experienced a significant life event, such as getting married or having a child, a coach can help you establish a work/life balance.

It should be noted that a successful coaching relationship requires more than just connecting with your coach on the fly. It requires a commitment to change and to work with a coach over an extended period of time. That said, just-in-time coaching can play an integral role in the overall coaching experience that should help you address both strategic issues (long term) and tactical needs (short term). If you’re meeting with a new coach, consider asking for a few immediate coaching sessions as a trial run. If you can establish a connection with a coach on these shorter calls, chances are good that you’ll have an even stronger connection during an extended relationship.

Ray Sclafani is President of ClientWise LLC, an organization founded to support the financial advisory practice of the future. Delivering unique practice management strategies focused on client acquisition and retention, ClientWise provides coaching and training for leading financial advisors. For more information, e-mail or call 1-800-732-0876.


Originally published in Financial Planning, April 2007.

Copyright Ray Sclafani 2007.