Reveals a Complete Money Coach Hiring and Interview Process with Essential Checklists…
- Critical questions to ask yourself before you begin the coaching process.
- A thorough list of non-negotiable criteria your coach needs to meet to be worth the money.
- How to get the most out of your free coaching consultation.
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 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'll 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 you find the perfect coach for your needs? The following three step model makes the process simple for you.
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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've 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 beliefs and values are important to have in common with my coach? (i.e. religion, family, etc.)
- Do I want open-ended coaching, or 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's 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're 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 come to value it highly after the fact.
Other clients lack strategic planning skills and 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's 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 of your original criteria.
Only when you're 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, retain some flexibility in your thinking. 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: it's okay if you feel stuck and unsure of what you want or need from a coaching relationship. In fact, it's quite common.
Just realize that you and your coach will be exploring murky waters in the beginning to help you define what you want before getting into action and producing results. As long as you both understand that issue up front, then it's 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's 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 the purposes of this article, we'll assume that's “financial coaching”.
Below is a checklist of things to consider when examining a coach’s web site.
Examine the site for quality and emotional appeal to determine if his/her web presence reflects someone you want 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/her writing?
If not, then move on because there are plenty of fish in the sea. If yes, then continue on to the next step.
It doesn’t have to be an exact match, but you want the same general direction. This isn't a simple concept; it 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 run your business better than you or find better investments; instead, he/she has to be enough of an expert at the game you're 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 possess 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, I researched tons of investment strategies as a hedge fund manager 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's no coincidence that my coaching clients are business owners and independent, active investors – like attracts like.
I don’t pretend to know their businesses better than they do because that has nothing to do with coaching them to success. However, my entrepreneurial and investment experience is critical to the quality of my coaching. I draw from it heavily when mentoring; yet, alone, it wouldn't be sufficient.
My coaching and teaching skills, ability to communicate clearly, 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're interested in achieving, but you 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 doesn't 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 isn't 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. (For example, I completed the advanced coach training program at the 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're 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 – not someone who treats it as a sideline afterthought. Why settle for anything less?
- Depth Of Coaching Experience: How long the coach has been practicing their craft matters. 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. It 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 website. 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 their 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 words does Google provide after the person’s name? These indicate 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 their clients? Do the testimonials address the same needs you're trying to meet? Does it appear the right kind of value is being created compared to what you're looking for?
- Fees: Are all fees clearly spelled out up-front so that you know exactly what you're 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 can't back out later if you're dissatisfied. They serve no useful function for the client and should be avoided.
- 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 cross over. You can’t separate your business life from your personal life, or financial success from life success. It's all connected. For that reason, consider whether or not your coach takes vacations and has fun… or is a workaholic. Do they manage to balance family with business… or is their personal life a mess? Have they left a trail of lawsuits and sour business relationships behind, or are their employees and other business relationships long-term? What message does their 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 get a strong sense about each of these 10 factors from any well designed coaching website. 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's 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's because most money coaches offer a free sample session.
It's 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 the best candidate is from the remaining choices, there's 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 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 are they at listening and really hearing the message behind your words?
- Do they answer your questions clearly? Can you tell from their answers that they're qualified to mentor you?
- Does the coach show a sincere interest in addressing your needs during the test-drive, or do they spend most of the time talking about themselves and pitching you on their services? In other words, are they focused on you or their marketing?
- What kind of energy was on the call? How engaged were you?
- Is the coach supportive by acknowledging what's going right in your life as well as areas that need improvement so you feel confident taking 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're inspired to change?
- Does the coach position themselves above you like an authority figure sitting on his regal throne, or do they position themselves as 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. There needs to be a sense of trustworthiness.
- Does the coach come from “right/wrong” as if they know all the answers, or do they respectfully articulate the consequences of various behaviors and let you decide what best fit your needs?
- Beware of coaches where you agree with everything stated. How much learning can you really expect if they 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 do they just wing it?
- Are they able to pinpoint the exact constraints and obstacles holding you back? Do they 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's a lot to consider in one short telephone call. Obviously, not every question will have an answer when you're done, but consulting this list 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've completed your internet research, due diligence, and test-drive, there should be little confusion about who the best coach is for you.
Additionally, you should be abundantly clear that not all coaches are created equal. Financial coaching isn't 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 can 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 consistently brings out the best in you. Once you find the right coach, stop paying attention to all the distracting alternatives and give this person a chance to work their magic.
It's 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'll 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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