Money is the number one cause of stress in America. It’s easy to see why because 67% of Americans wouldn’t be able to scrounge up $1000 for an emergency, 35% of Americans have debt in collections, only 1 in 3 of Americans keep a household budget and 1 in 3 people have NOTHING saved for retirement. The financial stress is mounting on Americans and there aren’t enough qualified people that can actually help them. The one person that is most qualified to help them is a financial coach.
A financial coach is a person that educates clients on the basics of personal finance and, as a team, create a spending plan that reflects the values and goals of the client. The coach then empowers clients to take responsibility for their decisions, supports their continual learning and growth, and serves as an accountability partner throughout the process.
Maybe you have worked your way up from a pretty tough financial situation and feel empowered to help others do the same.
Maybe you have always been good with your money and want to show people in financial need the steps to financial freedom.
Or maybe your position in financial services or coaching has allowed you to help people with their finances but never considered it anything beyond just part of your job.
We are here to tell you that if any of these situations sounds like you, you could be a financial coach! You don’t need degrees in finance and business. All you need is good financial sense and a passion to help people.
When I began my financial coaching business nearly 10 years ago I left corporate America to help friends and families gain financial freedom at my dining room table. Now I have a successful financial coaching business and my husband left his corporate job to come help me because I was so busy! I never imagined that I could have come as far as I have; starting a financial coaching business from scratch, working out of my home, to helping thousands of people gain control of their finances and stop the worry and heartache of financial stress.
If you have ever thought of helping people with their money, whether as a side hustle or as a full time coach, here are the top 5 things it took me 10 years to figure out that, in hindsight, really helped me launch my financial coaching career.
Find out what your “Why” is.
First things first. You need to ask yourself why you really want to become a financial coach. Who do you want help? Why do you feel this calling to help them? What is your personal story and journey with money?
Figuring out your “Why” really helps solidify your passion for helping people. It helps define your audience and create your message. Maybe you paid off a significant amount of debt and realized how good it feels and want other people to feel the same; but you definitely don’t want to help small businesses. Or maybe you saw your single mother go through financial stress and bankruptcy and really had a passion for helping single mothers and women who are need guidance and compassion.
Starting with clearly identifying your Why makes every decision you have to make in your business easier to tackle!
Check out my video below where I go over finding your “why” in more depth. https://youtu.be/OGu3nQw1Yg4
Here is the Simon Sinek video I mentioned in my video: https://youtu.be/u4ZoJKF_VuA
Craft and tell your story
This deserves a little deeper dive to go over the finer points. Along with your finding your why, crafting your story is one of the most important things to help you become a financial coach. What is your personal story and journey with money and why does it make you want to help people with their personal finances?
I have really worked on my story over the past 10 years and found that having a well crafted story gives me a lot of credibility, allows me to empathize with my clients and helps them understand where I am coming from on a personal level. There are parts of my story that are still to this day difficult to tell - there's a lot of emotions behind my experiences and memories around money.
But the more I'm able to own these details, the easier it is for my clients to open up to me and trust that whatever their story is, I get it.
My story involves me growing up watching my single mother go through bankruptcy. Seeing her cry over her bills at the dining room table and be consoled by my aunt in the doorway to our house. And how I knew I wanted to help people with money so they never felt that stress that made my mother so sad and angry. (The pain and shame in my mother's face is still very vivid a memory for me, as if I just saw it yesterday.) How I was a financial advisor and didn’t like selling products but loved helping people plan their budgets. And how I worked in corporate accounting and loved crunching numbers but hated not working with people one on one. And how I left it all to help my friends and family create a budget, all starting at my dining room table. This is my story - what is your story?
You ARE qualified to call yourself a financial coach
This is a big hang up for a lot people. Imposter syndrome is a hard hurdle to get over and can stop people from taking the first step or the next step. I myself have a B.S. in finance and a M.B.A but that doesn’t automatically make me a financial coach.
The number one requirement to become a financial coach is passion! Passion to help people first and foremost, and passion for teaching them about personal finance. Once you incorporate your why that is 99% of what it takes to call yourself a financial coach.
After that, if you have identified your why and crafted your story, then the rest is just semantics.
It’s that simple, but it’s also not that simple.
My husband left the sports medicine/ physical therapy world to help me and is now teaching workshops and financial wellness classes based on the budgeting system we have created together. He had imposter syndrome big time because he doesn’t have the education in finance nor the experience that I do. He decided to get some financial education certifications from The National Financial Educators Council and Financial Intelligence for Parents and Children (FIFPAC). He found them to be a complete waste of time and didn’t really learn anything new, but he got some letters behind his name and some self confidence.
Spending a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on certificates will definitely give you some credibility but you probably won’t learn anything new. You are reading this so you probably already have a good understanding of personal finance and want to use the resources here to further your knowledge. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to have degrees and letters behind your name to help people.
My husband's certifications have given him a lot more confidence when people ask what his qualifications are, but he has also crafted a story about his journey with finances from a child to now and that makes much more of an impact than a few letters after his name. I'm willing to bet that if you asked our clients why they trust my husband, it's because of his passion. They probably don't recall or even care about his certifications.
What is more compelling to someone that wants your help? Saying you have a B.S. in finance and took a course in financial coaching? Or saying you were in a lot of debt yourself and took 5 years of self education to get out and achieve financial freedom and now you want to share your experience and knowledge with others?
Overcoming your own financial obstacles means you understand the emotions behind that journey. It means you're more likely to help coach your client through those same challenges because you experienced them yourself.
Your financial journey is not a weakness, in fact, I consider it your greatest asset to you being a successful financial coach.
If you want to take a look at the different financial certificates and programs that are out there, check out the listings at FINRA.
How to justify charging people when they are in a financial crisis
I know it’s a very weird thing that I charge people to help them when they feel like they can’t afford it. If you feel a calling to help people and not charge them, I applaud you! I started that way myself. Then I went to charging people $50 per session and would have been happy making $2,000 a month. As my clients grew I was able to see the value in what I offered and found a way to show people that they are investing in themselves when they allow me to coach them.
Over the months I got busier and had to slowly increase my prices as I was in higher demand.
When I charge people hundreds of dollars per coaching session they are actually investing in themselves. They are paying me to help them stay accountable, stick to their plan and provide unbiased strategies and advice on their finances. Just doing that will save them thousands upon thousands of dollars in the long run. Paying for something means they come to our meetings and sit up at the desk, take notes, ask questions, engage in the process and get better results. The difference in the person's attention, preparation and nonverbal communication from those who came in for free consultations compared to those who had to pay something for the advice was staggering.
Reflect on how it is you would hold, or are holding yourself in integrity as a financial coach?
Do you practice what you preach?
Do you have policies about client privacy and security and do you share those policies with your clients?
Do you allow 3rd party groups and vendors to pay you for referrals or affiliate links or do you have any other conflicts of interest that you tell your clients about?
Do you allow people to cancel and reschedule over and over again because of fear and avoidance?
Can you be empathetic and give tough love and know when to use them appropriately?
All these things are very important because clients will see that. If they feel that you are trying to sell them something they won’t trust you. If you appear to not have your finances in order they won’t think your coaching is effective. And if you allow them to control coaching sessions or cancel or reschedule willy-nilly they won’t respect you or your authority as a coach.
And their results will suffer. Period.
One of the ways I make decisions about my business is by asking myself "Is this good for the client? Is this good for me? Is this good for both of us?" I'm always looking to institute the policies, procedures and business practices that fulfill that final criteria - it's good for both of us - and charging for the coaching I provide is one of those things.
5. Marketing: Conversations equal cash
This seems simple and stupid (hear us out) but we live by Angelique Rewer’s axiom, “Conversations Create Cash”. Financial coaching is a weird thing in that no matter what great information, plans and statistics you put in front of people, they rarely trust you upfront. But if you have conversations with prospective clients, referral partners, friends and family members, etc., you will hit home run after home run.
Marketing yourself is very hard and the biggest bang for your buck is to have conversations with as many people as possible. From an outside perspective, financial coaching is an odd thing. People can be very secretive about their money, feel ashamed or are just naive or in denial. But when they hear about you from the right person at the right time, that’s where the magic is. Don’t start marketing with Facebook ads and social media. Provide value and good content but focus on finding people that would be good referral partners and let them do the work for you.
I get most of my referrals from previous clients, financial advisors, accountants, divorce attorneys, and very few from Facebook, Google and Yelp reviews.
When I first started out I was big into networking groups like BNI (www.BNI.com) and local Chamber of Commerce. There are also a lot of Meetup groups that you can join. Networking groups like these is where I would start and as you gain momentum and referral partners, they will start doing the work for you. Then you can really push to have an online presence to solidify your word of mouth credibility.
Now you have thought about your why, maybe crafted a story, gotten a little more organized with technology. Maybe now you have a website and a business Facebook page. All you need to do is just go out and start helping people. Be an expert and allow people to know you, like you and trust you.
Some of you don’t feel the need to charge for your services and see your gift as a financial coach as a service or calling to others. Maybe you want to do some work on the side and charge a nominal fee as some extra income. Or maybe you have been growing your financial coaching side business for a while and are ready to go full time! Wherever you are in your financial coaching journey is amazing but we want you to continue to grow and be of service to more people and make it a career, just like I did.
If you want to take the next step and make financial coaching your next career, we are starting the next round of Financial Coach Academy on February 1st, 2018. It is a 10 week online course where we give you the tools to take your passion for personal finance to the next level.
We will show you everything that I have learned in nearly 10 years in financial coaching, our successes and our failures. We will teach you everything you need to know to have the framework for a financial coaching business including marketing, coaching strategies, financial mastery, back office systems and set up, programs and pricing and much more. You already have passion and an understanding of personal finance, let us help you grow as a business!
If you have questions please call and schedule a 15 minute Q and A session at 480-788-4588 or register at www.FinancialCoachAcademy.com.
Financial Coach and President of Financial Coach Academy