Pick the Right Coach

Who should you choose to be your mentor? Answering this question could be the key to a successful relationship.

By Ray Sclafani

February 1, 2007 – Whether you want to enhance the effectiveness of your team or solve challenges that are unique to your practice, finding the right coach can be an important first step. If you are considering engaging a professional coach, look for one who has the expertise, skills and industry knowledge required to coach financial advisors.

Are You Ready?

Before you start looking for a coach, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you emotionally and financially ready to engage a coach?
  • What are your desired outcomes for coaching?
  • What qualities in a coach are most important to you?

Positive answers to these questions are crucial. If you begin the coaching process without knowing that you are open to change, you won’t be able to make the most of your experience. If you aren’t sure what you want to accomplish, you run the risk of losing valuable time and resources. And if you aren’t sure what type of you coach you’re looking for, you could end up with a coaching relationship that’s not well suited to your needs.

Taking the Plunge

When you are ready to hire a coach, consider talking to two or three candidates before making a decision. As a starting point, ask other advisors whether they’ve ever hired a coach and which ones they recommend. Talk to your branch manager about what resources may be available through your firm. You can also speak to wholesalers you know about what they may offer in the way of training and support. Your goal is to find a coach or mentor whose personality is a good fit for your learning style, as well as someone who can help you generate extraordinary results.

Do keep in mind that there’s more to a good coaching relationship than great rapport. Look for warning signs that a coach may not be a good fit, such as a coach who talks more than he or she listens during your first conversation. A coach needs to be a good listener in order to help you achieve your goals. Be wary of coaches who don’t understand basic financial terms and concepts that apply to your sales process. A good coach understands your industry and can hit the ground running. Ask yourself if the coach you’re interviewing is someone who simply agrees with everything you have to say, or who will challenge your assumptions when appropriate. A good coach is someone who can help you move outside of your comfort zone in order to grow and develop.

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 ray@clientwise.com or call 1-800-732-0876.

Originally published in Financial Planning, February 2007.

Copyright Ray Sclafani 2007.