3 Steps To Choosing The Right Money Coach

Reveals a Complete Money Coach Hiring and Interview Process with Essential Checklists…

How can you tell a true expert from a charlatan?

How do you know if a financial coach has the skills and abilities to teach his “brilliant insights” so that you can improve your financial situation?

After all, the coaching industry has no regulatory board or formal licensing qualification which means anyone can call themselves a money coach. Yes, anybody with marketing savvy can establish “guru” status but that doesn’t mean they will be good at coaching you. Like any industry, coaching has highly skilled practitioners… and others who should be avoided.

In addition, each coach has a personal style that may not match your learning style or needs. For example, some clients work well with hard-core accountability coaching while others prefer “woo-woo” new age concepts. Both coaching styles are acceptable – but not for every client. One coaching style could be medicine to one person and poison to another.

In short, one size does not fit all when it comes to money coaching.

So how do you navigate the coaching waters so that you find the perfect coach for your needs? The following three step model makes the process simple for you…

Step 1 – Define What You Want From Coaching and Mentoring

The first step in choosing the right coach is deciding in advance what you want from the coaching relationship. There are many coaching specialties – money coaching, retirement coaching, ADHD coaching, executive coaching, parent coaching, and much more. The greater your clarity about what you want from the process the easier it will be to pick the right coach.

For example, if you want help improving relationships then don’t hire a financial coach – get a family and relationship specialist. If you work well with accountability and deadlines then pick a coach with drill sergeant tendencies while avoiding energy coaches who talk about chakras and crystals. Set yourself up for a successful coaching relationship by eliminating obvious mismatches from the start.

Below are some questions that you should consider to help you clarify your needs. My suggestion is to grab a piece of paper and write as complete an answer to each question as you can. After you have gone through all the questions you should have reasonably specific criteria by which to judge the fit of a prospective coach…

  • What do I want from the coaching relationship?
  • Why do I need a coach?

“The weekly call format of coaching keeps me focused. Every week is an opportunity to create enough value to pay for a year of coaching.”– David Anderson, Retired Investor; San Francisco, CA

  • What level of accountability do I want?
  • What specific things do I need to learn?
  • How do I like to be supported?
  • What support styles drive me nuts?
  • What specific technical knowledge does my coach need to have?
  • What are the character traits of my ideal coach? (i.e. wisdom, integrity, intuition, judgment, intelligence, sense of humor)
  • Do I want process coaching to achieve breakthrough personal insights and growth, or do I just want “how-to” type education?
  • What role do I want personal growth and development to play in my coaching?
  • What are my goals?
  • How much time can I devote to achieving my goals through the coaching process?
  • What specific obstacles are holding me back from success right now?
  • What experience should my coach have?
  • What background issues are important to have in common with my coach? (i.e. religion, family, etc.)
  • Do I want coaching open ended or just a specific number of sessions?
  • Do I need face-to-face interaction or is the telephone acceptable?
  • What skills compliment my natural learning style?
  • What personality style would I prefer my coach have? (i.e. woo-woo vs. drill sergeant vs. balanced)?
  • What price am I willing to pay to get the help I want?

This list of questions is long because a proper coaching relationship will have multiple layers to it. In other words, be as specific as you can while still maintaining some flexibility for the unexpected.

For example, my clients want to build wealth and enjoy freedom, but that is just the starting point to many unexpected value streams that result from coaching. I have many clients who value the accountability and brainstorming benefits because they are business owners and independent investors at the top of the organizational chart with nobody else to answer to. My coaching brings clarity to their decisions by working through obvious mistakes before flawed decisions cost them money. Many clients didn’t begin coaching with that benefit in mind but have learned to value it highly after the fact.

Other clients lack strategic planning skills and really appreciate how I help them put together a wealth plan while correcting and adjusting that plan as they implement. Still other clients have lost weight, improved health, and improved relationships as a result of the universal application of many success principles taught in financial coaching. Yes, the goal is financial freedom, but there is much more to the process of money coaching than most people understand.

“I contacted Todd to become financially independent. In the first call he showed me how I was already financially free if I chose to see it that way. What we quickly discovered was the difference between the financial freedom I thought I wanted and the personal freedom I was truly seeking. It is the difference between financial wealth and true wealth. Thanks to Todd’s coaching I am quite a different person now. He has assisted me in taking a journey I expect to lead to amazing places – places I didn’t even know I wanted to venture toward when I began.”– Stephen Klink; Oakland, CA

In other words, when shopping for a coach begin with the end in mind but remain open to learning about value streams and benefits outside your original criteria. Only when you are clear about your desired outcome will you know when a prospective coach fits your criteria. Without any measurement standards you have no basis for selection.

With that said, just retain some flexibility in your thinking because coaching involves growth that will positively impact many areas of your life that might seem unrelated right now as you begin the research process.

One last thought… if you feel stuck and aren’t really sure what you want then that is okay too. In fact, it is quite common. Just realize that you and your coach will be exploring murky waters in the beginning to help you define what you really want before getting into action and producing results. As long as you both understand that issue up-front then it is fine and shouldn’t hold you back from moving forward to the next step…

Step 2: Research and Screen Potential Coaches

Now that you know what you want from coaching it is time to begin researching and sorting potential candidates.

There are coaches for every niche imaginable and nearly all quality candidates have a web presence. For that reason, the most efficient first step in your research process is to sit down at the computer with your favorite search engine and look for coaches in your desired field of expertise – for purposes of this article we will assume that is “financial coaching” using a search with that term.

Below is a checklist of things to consider when examining a coach’s web site…

  • Web Presence: Examine the site for quality and emotional appeal to determine if his/her web presence reflects someone you would like to work with. Is it tacky and amateurish or is it informative and professional? Do you find educational articles that interest you? Can you discern clear expertise and tell what the coach is about from his writing? If not, then move on because there are plenty of fish in the sea: if yes, then continue on to the next step…
  • Experience: Click on the about us and/or bio page and learn more about the coach’s background. Does his life emulate the goals you seek to achieve and the values you honor? It doesn’t have to be an exact match but you want the same general direction. This is not a simple concept but has many subtleties so please hang with me for a few paragraphs as I try and explain the nuances of analyzing a coach’s experience…Remember, the coach doesn’t have to be able to run your business better than you or find better investments; instead, he has to be enough of an expert at the game you are playing to bring out the best in you. For example, top tennis stars have coaches who have never won a championship but are superb students of the game. They posses unique knowledge and can communicate that knowledge in a way that brings out the best in their star clients. Keep that in mind when examining a coach’s experience.For example, I’m a serial entrepreneur who has built several successful businesses from scratch. In addition, as a hedge fund manager I researched tons of investment strategies and built my wealth through investing in both paper assets and real estate. This gives me a depth of practical experience in business entrepreneurship and investing. It is no coincidence that my coaching clients are business owners and independent, active investors – like attracts like. I don’t pretend to know their business’ better than they do because that has nothing to do with coaching them to success.However, with that said, my entrepreneurial and investment experience is critical to the quality of my coaching. I draw from it heavily when mentoring; yet, alone it would not be sufficient. My coach training, teaching skills, communication ability and interpersonal skills play an equally important role in my clients’ success.In other words, practical experience without the teaching skills is only half the picture. Teaching skills without a depth of practical experience causes superficial communication that lacks authority and relevance. Keep these two facts in mind when examining a coach’s experience. You want relevant experience to what you are interested in achieving; yet, you also want a whole lot more.Additionally, watch out for big-name gurus who built their wealth traveling 150 days per year on the speaker circuit marketing their book to the New York Times bestseller list. The authority and recognition from mainstream media may appear to prove expertise at first glance, but unless you want to learn how to build wealth by becoming a bestselling author the fit may not make sense for your needs. High profile marketing success does not have any relevance to a great coach unless your goal is to achieve high profile marketing success (see 12 Warning Signs of a Coaching Company To Avoid).

    The coach has either lived your dream and has direct experience or he hasn’t. Don’t accept second-hand coaches working underneath big name gurus where the credentials and experience are supposed to come from above… they don’t. The prospective coach has either walked the talk and speaks from direct experience or he hasn’t. This one criterion alone will eliminate 95%-99% of the potential coaches from your list.

    For the remainder who survive this test let’s look at a few more basic criteria to whittle our short-list down to a few choice candidates…

  • Credentials / Training: Good coaching is not a natural skill for most people: it must be trained. There are specific coaching techniques that are proven to produce results helping the client get what s/he wants out of life. Don’t hire a hacker. Instead, determine if the coach has credentials showing advanced training with an accredited coaching organization. (i.e. I completed the advanced coach training program at Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California.)
  • Full-Time Commitment: Look for a full-time coach. You want a specialist. You wouldn’t trust your health to a part-time brain surgeon, would you? Don’t be deceived by trainers, consultants and speakers who sell coaching and mentoring programs as a back-end product or as a gap-filler when business slows down. They are either dedicated to coaching as a profession or they’re not. Don’t hire someone who works a day job and does financial coaching for a little extra income on the side. Don’t hire a financial adviser who has dubbed himself a “money coach” but still sells investments. You want someone who is passionate enough about his profession to pursue it with full-time commitment and not someone who treats it as a sideline afterthought. Why settle for anything less?
  • Depth Of Coaching Experience: It matters how long the coach has been practicing his craft. For example, if you compared my coaching effectiveness and skill today with my abilities back in 1999 when I first began to practice the difference is like night and day. There were massive holes in my skill set back then that I didn’t even know existed but took years of trial and error to discover and solve. Experience matters… probably as much or more in coaching than other professions. I would weigh this criterion heavily. Longevity in the profession on a full-time basis can be a very good indicator of quality.
  • Published Articles: Read the published articles on the coach’s web site. Mine are here. Does the information indicate this person can provide the next few steps in your journey toward your goal? Do you see any red flags in the writing that raises fundamental concerns about compatibility? Do you get good value from what you read?

“Many people claim to be “financial advisers” but we choose Todd because he has produced extraordinary results for himself and others using methods he has personally developed. In other words, he truly walks the talk.” – Patrick and Nancy Dean, Dean Seminars Intl.; Dillon Beach, CA

  • Search The Coach’s Name: What do you find when you search his name? No public person survives on the web without some naysayers so take this step with a grain of salt. Anybody can criticize anyone, but is there a pattern to the problem? Do the critic’s comments have substance or are they just gripe-fests? What extensions does Google provide after the person’s name indicating popular search terms (i.e. scam, fraud, lawsuit, complaint)? Contrarily, what positive or good information can you find? Sort the facts from the fiction and weigh the accumulated evidence.
  • Testimonials: A full-time coach with years of experience should have a solid testimonials page. What were the results produced by his clients? Do the testimonials address the same needs you are trying to meet? Does it appear the right kind of value is being created compared to what you are looking for?
  • Fees: Are all fees clearly spelled out up-front so that you know exactly what you are getting into? What sort of commitment is required? Beware of long-term-pay-in-advance contracts that lock you in when you may want to exit. In my practice clients pay only one month at a time and are never under any contractual obligation to continue. You can learn more here. Long-term contracts for individual coaching are a marketing gimmick designed to separate you from your money during the sales process so that you cannot back out later if you are dissatisfied. They serve no useful function for the client and should be avoided (see 12 Things To Avoid In A Coaching Company).
  • Style: Does the coach demonstrate a life that you respect by setting an example you would like to model? This is relevant because coaching is a personal relationship where many aspects of life crossover. You can’t separate your business life from your personal life, or financial success from life success. It is all connected. For that reason, consider whether or not your coach takes vacations and has fun… or is he a workaholic? Does he manage to balance family with business… or is his personal life a mess? Has he left a trail of lawsuits and sour business relationships behind, or are his employees and other business relationships long-term? What message does his life convey?

“The knowledge you shared about the mortgage lending game immediately saved me $7,000, lowered my risk over the life of the loan, and saved me hundreds in closing costs. But you have saved me much more than money. Your lessons on energy, focus, journey versus destination and personal financial principles have given me higher highs and higher lows which have really paid off over time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”– Valerie Casares; Brentwood, CA

You should be able to get a strong sense about each of these 10 factors from any well designed coaching web site. Very few coaches should pass all 10 tests allowing you to filter down the most extensive online search to less than a handful of quality candidates.

Once you have this short-list of candidates it is time to move to the final step in the selection process…

Step 3: Test Drive Their Coaching Services

One of the great benefits of coaching is you get to try-before-you-buy… usually at no cost. That is because most money coaches offer a free sample session. It is like going into a restaurant and trying food samples without having to pay. It substantially lowers your risk of getting a bad meal. The same is true with hiring a financial coach.

The fact is you can only learn so much about a coach’s style and how well s/he fits your needs through second-hand information. Sure, you can eliminate 95% of the bad candidates within the sterile confines of the internet using the criteria in Step 2 above, but if you want to determine who is the best candidate from the remaining choices there is no substitute for direct experience through a test-drive.

“Thanks for the two hours we spent on the phone two summers ago when I “test drove” your services. I was a mess and you really helped me. I put what you said on a desktop stickie and have quoted you many times to friends. I’m betting you have helped a lot of people with your message. You sure did for me.”– Keith D. Mack; Langley, WA

To get the most value from your sample coaching session bring specific questions or issues to the call that you would like to work on. The goal is to actively experience an authentic money coaching session to see what it’s like, how it works, and what results are produced. In addition, if you bring the same issue to each of your candidates it should provide significant contrast and insight into their coaching style so that you can make the right choice.

Trust your gut instincts when deciding if the coach genuinely understands who you are and what you need. First impressions count. Because the experience will be relatively brief I’ve provided a checklist for determining which coach fits best…

  • Does the coach establish good rapport with you from the outset?
  • Is the coach an unusually effective observer bringing surprising insights into your life from this short conversation?
  • How well do the coach’s words resonate with you?
  • Does the coach challenge your thought process, broaden your perspective, and help you break free of limiting beliefs and assumptions?
  • How good is he at listening and really hearing the message behind your words?
  • Does he answer your questions clearly? Can you tell from his answers that he is qualified to mentor you?
  • Does the coach show a sincere interest in addressing your needs during the test-drive or does he spend most of the time talking about himself and pitching you on his services? In other words, is he focused on you or his marketing?
  • What kind of energy was on the call? How engaged were you?
  • Is the coach supportive by acknowledging what is going right in your life as well as areas that need improvement so that you feel enrolled to take the next step forward?
  • Does the coach have a unique process that fits your reasons for seeking a coach in the first place?
  • Does the coach challenge your thinking in a non-combative way so that you are enrolled to change?
  • Does the coach position himself above you like an authority figure sitting on his regal throne, or does he position himself like a teammate walking side by side with you on a parallel journey?
  • How comfortable are you with this person? This is important because coaching involves sharing your deepest desires and vulnerabilities so there needs to be a sense of trustworthiness.
  • Does the coach come from “right/wrong” as if he knows all the answers, or does he respectfully articulate the consequences of various behaviors and leave you at choice to make decisions that best fit your needs?
  • Beware of coaches where you agree with everything stated. How much learning can you really expect if they just confirm what you already know?
  • Similarly, beware of friendship playing too big a role in the conversation. The proper role of a coach is to help you get what you want – not be your friend. He must have the strength and courage to push you out of your comfort zone, get under your skin, and cause a little friction to produce maximum results.
  • Does the coach have an accountability system to help you follow through?
  • Does the coach have a clearly defined process or does he just wing it?
  • Is he able to pinpoint the exact constraints and obstacles that are holding you back? Does he have solutions you can implement?
  • Was the coach able to isolate the few behavior changes offering the highest payback for your unique situation?
  • Was the coach able to effectively teach the subject? Knowledge doesn’t necessarily equate to good teaching ability. The coach must be able to articulate ideas and concepts clearly.
  • Finally, imagine what an ongoing coaching relationship with this person would be like. How does that feel?

I know that is a lot to consider in just one short telephone call. Obviously, not every question will have an answer when you are done, but consulting this list of questions should give you a good overall feel for the quality of the coaching experience.

The key point is to find a coach that fits your values and vision as closely as possible. You want someone you respect and trust that can save you time, money and hassle in taking the next step on your journey to financial freedom.


After you have completed your internet research, due diligence, and test-drive there should be little confusion about who is the best coach for you.

Additionally, you should be abundantly clear that not all coaches are created equal. Financial coaching is not a commodity type service where one provider is just as good as another. There are huge differences in philosophies, styles, pricing policies and teachings. By using this three step process you should be able to determine which money coach is the perfect match for your needs.

“I created specific and measurable results in just four sessions. After what I learned from you in the last session I think you are charging way to little dollars.”– Beth Dispenza, Entrepreneur; Malibu, CA

As a final thought, please keep in mind that the right coach is the one who brings out the best in you… consistently. Once you find the right coach stop paying attention to all the distracting alternatives and give this person a chance to work his magic. It is easy to get distracted by the next great thing, but success comes from committing to a specific path or program and following it with persistence.

Give your new coach a fair chance to make a difference and hopefully you will experience all the benefits that motivated you down this path in the first place.

To learn more about my financial coaching services click here.

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