Identifying a Good Financial Coach

Financial issues can be complicated, and there may be times when we all could use the advice of an experienced professional to navigate through the problems and pitfalls that present themselves. In such cases, a financial coach may be just what you need. If you've decided to seek the services of a qualified financial coach, here are a few tips to help steer you in the right direction:

  • Experience. How long has the individual been coaching? While there are six-week courses for those who wish to become a financial coach, this does not necessarily guarantee that they have established expertise in the area most important to you. Look for a coach who has had extensive training for at least two years, followed by multiple exams showing his or her competence in the area. A certified financial planner and a certified public accountant both meet these criteria. Additionally, you need to know how long the coach has been practicing in that particular field. Also, providing any and all licenses is proof that the individual is engaged in ongoing education, as well.
  • Compensation. How much does the financial coach charge and on what basis are the fees incurred? Also, who provides payment for his or her services? For instance, does the coach work for a bank or other financial institution and receive commissions from it?
  • Personality. You'll probably be able to tell within the first five minutes of interviewing a perspective financial coach if he or she is suitable for your needs. You may think that personality should not be a factor, but if you clearly don't get along with your coach it may cause problems later on. This is because one of the basic tenets of hiring a financial coach is trust and confidence that he or she will do the job you hired them to do. As long as you're comfortable with the coach and can confide in and depend upon them to guide you into a successful financial future, then you've found someone quite special.
  • Professionalism. Does the financial coach conduct business in a courteous and professional manner? Does he or she set appointments well in advance and arrive on time? Are your questions and concerns addressed immediately or, at least, in a timely manner? You wouldn't expect any less from your family doctor, so why would you settle for someone who doesn't offer the same level of professionalism in the financial world?
  • Expertise. Whether you're hiring a coach to help with retirement planning, tuition for your children's college education, investments, insurance or starting a new business, you undoubtedly want someone that has expertise in a specific niche. Ideally, of course, you'd want a financial coach who's proficient in all of these areas.

Just as you would take the time and effort to find the right doctor, lawyer or baby-sitter, use the same diligence to articulate your needs in finding the best financial coach available. Finding someone who understands your financial vision and can draw on practical experience to help you achieve it is even better than finding lost money.

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