The Ultimate Guide on Financial Coaching and How You Can Become One

Taking control of your finances can be more challenging than you think, especially if you have debt or any additional money problems. Lucky for you, there are different ways to help you get on top of your funds and secure your revenue. 

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One of these ways is financial coaching. Some people need a life coach, some need a fitness coach, and financial coaches are just different coaches that will help you with your money problems. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What financial coaches are, what they do, and what training they have;
  • Why you should work with a financial coach;
  • The differences between financial coaches, financial advisors, and financial planners;
  • How to become a financial coach;
  • How to own your finances. 

Let’s take a look at what financial coaching entails. 

What Is a Financial Coach?

To put it simply, financial coaches help you develop strategies to reach your financial goals, but they also help you understand and improve your relationship with money. 

For example, if you have problems saving money or paying off debt, you can hire a financial coach to help you out. They will track your financial habits and help you create methods to tackle your problems. 

However, financial coaching isn’t just about developing and applying money strategies to your funds. It’s also about analyzing and improving your relationship with money. Many people have trouble with personal finance because some part of their attitude towards money blocks the improvement of their financial literacy. Just like a life coach or a personal trainer are there to help you understand your view towards life, food, and health, a financial coach can help you with your attitude towards your financial life. 

And how do they do this exactly?

What Does a Financial Coach Do?

As said before, financial coaches don’t focus only on the money but also the client. 

Some people have problems with cash flow. They lose money, want to save a certain amount of money for education or a house, or just have debt that they can’t seem to pay off. These are some of the scenarios that could work with a financial coach. 

The method could differ depending on the narrative and the financial coach and client themselves. Financial coaching can be done both in-person and through online means. However, here’s what working one on one with a financial coach could look like. 

  • Tracking habits – to understand the client, their financial decisions, and attitude toward money, a financial coach’s first step is likely to track your economic patterns to analyze them. This will help them develop methods to help you reach your financial goals. 
  • Create a goal – developing long-term goals can significantly impact your relationship with money because you’ll be aware of what you’re working for, which motivates you. Your goal could be to start an emergency fund, save a couple of months worth of paychecks, or pay off debt. But it’s also about long-term goals. You might think that you don’t have any long-term goals, but everyone has a particular “dream” lifestyle they want to attain. Your financial coach will help you define and work towards reaching these financial goals. 
  • Understanding behaviors – your behaviors and emotions towards money matters might be the only thing blocking you from reaching your financial dreams. By tracking your expenses and money habits and talking about it with your financial coach, you’ll help them gain insight into your emotions towards money. These emotions can sometimes harm your ability to reach financial goals. Still, by acknowledging, analyzing and understanding them, you can help your financial coach create the suitable methods to get on top of your finances. 
  • Creating a budget might seem impossible at first, but the financial coach is there to help clients identify a proper budgeting plan and realize that just because you’ve never done it before doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. This step usually includes creating an emergency fund or a certain amount of savings. 
  • Develop a method that suits you – your financial coach will help you develop a spending method or a budgeting system that works for you and your financial decisions while still helping you tackle any negative thoughts and behaviors you have with finances. These methods depend on the client and their habits, so a coach needs to find something that works for you. These methods can be digital, like using certain apps and tools, but they can also be traditional budgeting methods.   
  • Client support – even after reaching a specific financial goal, you’re coach should be there for you for any follow-up questions or support you need. 

As you can see, the first step of financial coaching is getting to know the client, and the next one is developing economic methods according to the client’s needs. However, there are a couple of things that financial coaches don’t do. 

A financial coach helps you tackle ineffective money management behaviors and gain control of your own finances.

If you’re interested in investment choices and investment vehicles, financial coaches typically won’t be able to help you. This isn’t their area of expertise, as they’re more focused on money management skills and the client’s feelings towards money. If you’re looking for someone to help with your investments, you should go for a financial advisor or a  Robo-advisor. A financial advisor is there to help you with more than just your money management skills.

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Financial Coach Training

Even though our attitude toward money and reaching financial goals is connected, what formal education do financial coaches have that turns them into experts in financial behaviors and managing money?

Truthfully, anyone can name themselves a financial coach, primarily because no licenses, certifications, or registration is required to become one. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no financial coaches with certified knowledge in similar economic fields. They can also have a more formal education.

Financial coaches might not need any certifications, but they still must have the skills of a financial coach. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), financial coaches should have a couple of skills to help you create better money habits. The top three are:

  • Coaching and motivational skills
  • The understanding of financial content
  • Cultural responsiveness and systemic understanding. 

The CFPB even noted no need for higher education or training requirements for financial coaches. Setting too high standards can create barriers that stop people from poor communities from becoming financial coaches and helping their neighborhoods. 

However, some programs provide credentials for aspiring financial coaches. For example, the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) certification is offered by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE), which is like a CFP board for financial coaches. 

There are also formal training programs for people with specific financial credentials and training from local non-profit organizations. Some even get their certificates from the Financial Industry Regulatory authority (FINRA).

Why You Should Work With a Financial Coach

Truthfully, everyone can benefit from hiring a financial coach one way or the other. Some people have big money problems, while some have small ones, but they all need to improve their financial literacy. Their income can vary drastically, from families in poor areas to individuals with a hefty bank account. 

Most clients of financial coaches have similar problems. They usually have trouble paying off debt, like credit card debt or student loan debt, have bad spending habits, or are trying to improve their savings and cash flow. Financial coaches typically provide financial advice, help you create healthy financial habits, and act as an accountability partner.

Maybe you have trouble setting up a budget or sticking to it. Or you want to develop a financial plan for an emergency savings fund. The client’s financial goals can be achieved by working with a financial coach who will help them understand and overcome any things preventing their success. Financial coaches should educate clients, give them basic advice and help them save money or manage debt. And if you already know your emotions toward money and spending habits are bad for your goals, a financial coach will be able to help improve your financial decisions. 

However, as mentioned before, they’re not the right choice if you’re looking to improve your investment portfolio. That’s the job of a financial advisor.

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How to Find a Financial Coach

Finding a financial coach depends on your situation. 

For example, you can work with a financial coach in non-profit organizations in poor areas for free. They want to help families who have trouble with their finances. 

On the other hand, some financial coaches work with high-income individuals, and you’ll likely find them online or by asking around since they’re under no central management. 

If you’re looking for a financial coach with some certifications, check AFCPE’s website. Here, you’ll find financial counselors and coaches who hold either the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) or Financial Fitness Coach designation. 

Some other places where you could find a financial coach are local community groups, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or even your employer. 

That being said, even financial coaches with no certifications like these can be good at their job. It’s always good to check their website (if they have one, they likely do) or search for client testimonials and recommendations. 

What Do Financial Coaches Charge

Financial coaches tend to work on fee-only bases, charging by the hour, but it depends. Some financial coaches in poor areas work free of charge for non-profit organizations, while some work with paying clients. 

Some financial coaches will offer you a package deal for a couple of months worth of work, while others charge based on income. 

The cost can vary greatly, depending on different factors, like the coach’s credentials and location. According to the National Financial Educators Council, financial coaches with hourly fees earn from $75 to $600 an hour, and the national average is $257. 

Before working with a financial coach, ask about the price because it can vary significantly. 

What’s the Difference Between a Financial Coach and a Financial Advisor?

If you’re first starting in the world of financing, you might confuse these two terms – financial coaches and financial advisors. Even though they seem similar, they cover slightly different areas of finances. 

The job descriptions of a financial coach and a financial advisor partially overlap. Technically speaking, both ensure you reach your goals through determined methods and systems. However, there are a couple of differences regarding their credentials and focus points. 

First off, you have to have specific certificates and credentials to be a financial planner, mainly because they handle more serious arrangements than just budgeting. A financial advisor tends to focus on long-term goals, like retirement planning, credit counseling, investment portfolios, and different financial products. 

On the other hand, a financial coach doesn’t need credentials to work. Also, they mainly focus on short-term goals like getting rid of debt or learning money management skills. Most importantly, they won’t give investment advice unless registered as an investment advisor. 

Financial advisors tend to build more wealth based on what the clients already have. Financial coaches work with clients to improve money management skills and their relationship with money. A financial advisor doesn’t focus on the emotional part of financial counseling. 

Another difference is that a financial advisor will likely sell you different financial products and investment vehicles. On the other hand, a financial coach works on your current financial situation and financial plans.

So what’s better? Even though financial advisors can be considered a better version of a financial coach, the truth is that you can’t compare their results. They work in different ways and help clients achieve other goals. Essentially, it would be ideal for working with both a financial advisor and a financial coach to ensure you’re covered in all areas of personal finance. 

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What’s the Difference Between a Financial Coach and a Financial Planner?

Financial planners might seem similar to financial advisors and financial coaches, but they’re different sorts of financial professionals. 

To put it simply, financial planning is somewhat of a combination of financial advisors and financial coaches. Financial planning is supposed to help individuals and companies develop strategies to reach their long-term financial goals. They cover problems like budgeting, retirement, saving, and investing. Even though that sounds similar to financial advisors, the fact is that every financial planner is a type of financial advisor, but not every financial advisor is a financial planner. The differences are subtle but there. 

However, financial coaching differs from financial planning because they focus on the client’s relationship with money. They’re both financial professionals, but financial planners concentrate on this aspect shallowly, while financial coaches are there to understand and analyze the client’s emotions toward money and develop financial strategies accordingly. 

Additionally, financial coaches don’t need any credentials to work, unlike a financial planner or a financial advisor. 

How to Become a Financial Coach

But what if you want to become a financial coach yourself? Becoming a financial coach is an excellent option for those with a good sense of people and knowledge of money and money relationships. But don’t be fooled. Just because there are no required credentials to become a financial coach, unlike for a financial advisor, doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work.

Here’s a short guide on what you need to do if you want to start working as a financial coach.  

Why Should You Become a Financial Coach?

Most people who want to become financial coaches already have a history with finances. Some of them are financial planners and financial advisors. This is a plus since incorporating financial coaching in their offer makes them very skilled in different fields. 

Financial coaching is a type of financial management that doesn’t only focus on money but mainly on the clients and their behaviors. So a financial advisor with knowledge about investing and stocks can also use their understanding of clients’ behaviors to improve their investment portfolio. 

Becoming a financial coach is also an excellent option for those already into finances but don’t feel like investments are their area of expertise. If you feel more interested in behavioral issues that come with money and how you can analyze and fix them, financial coaching is a better option. 

For those who don’t have any history with finances, becoming a financial coach is usually initiated by some life experiences that made them interested in money and emotional issues that some people have with it. 

Finally, no matter where you come from or why you want to become a financial coach, you’ll need to take steps to ensure you have the proper skills to teach people money management. 

These skills include being an excellent motivational speaker, understanding behavioral issues, and just basic knowledge about how finances work. 

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Steps to Take to Become a Financial Coach

Now, let’s focus on some concrete steps you can take to become a financial coach. Let’s get started. 

Savings

Most importantly, before you start your financial coaching business, you should make sure you have enough savings to last you a couple of months. 

Starting a coaching business full-time, just like any business, takes time, especially if you want to focus on education first. Building your business, taking care of marketing and other areas, and finally getting enough clients to live comfortably can take months. 

This is why you need to save some money first to ensure you have enough to live off of before you manage to develop your business enough. Look at this from a perspective of a financial coach – if you don’t have enough money, you’ll feel financially unstable, which can lead to even more bad decisions for yourself and even your business and approach to your clients. 

Essentially, if you want to focus on becoming a financial coach first, you need to coach yourself. 

Besides living costs, you might need this money for additional educational resources or credentials. 

Education

Every financial coach needs to have at least some basic knowledge about finances and money management, but they should also know about people and how to work with them. 

Even though you don’t need any specific credentials to work as a financial coach, you can still invest in additional financial education. For example, you could get a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) license or an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) certification offered by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE). 

Clients will likely prefer someone with credentials when choosing a financial coach. 

If you want to begin working as a financial advisor and give investment advice and help people build wealth, you will need credentials to provide basic advice.

Niche

The next step in designing your new job is finding a niche. Unfortunately, you can’t be the expert in everything. 

Finding a niche makes you better at what you do and makes you stand out from other financial coaches. So, what do you think you’re an expert in? Do you have sound financial principles in a particular area?

For example, you could be the person people turn o when they want to manage debt or create healthy habits regarding money. One of these can be your niche, and you can focus n fixing the similar issues that your clients have. 

Decide on Your Business Structure

Starting a business comes with administrative work. One is choosing a business structure to file with the local business administration. We can’t advise you on the best option to choose, though. It’s best to contact a lawyer who will help you determine your business structure based on circumstances. 

Deciding a business structure and submitting it will be one of your first business expenses. 

Administration

There’s also some additional administrative work you need to do. 

Before deciding on the business structure, you’re supposed to create a name for your business. Don’t think bout this too hard. The title should be simple but memorable. 

Other administrative work includes getting a Federal tax ID number so you can open a business checking account and get a business credit card. Remember to separate your personal and business expenses. 

Next, you’ll have to pick an accounting software to manage your work finances. Some good options include QuickBooks or Xero. 

You should also create a solid client agreement to ensure both parties are secure, but this might be hard if you’re just starting. You just need to have the first one reliable and ready before you get your first client, and then you can update it. 

Create a System

What exactly do you offer people? How does your financial advising work?

You need to develop a system that suits both the way you work and your clients. Unlike financial advisors, financial coaching doesn’t have a particular set of rules and processes that most coaches use. 

This is why you need to create a system that suits you. For example, you could work one-on-one with clients for a couple of months, once or twice a week, or even biweekly. These sessions can last as long as they suit you, but they’re usually one hour long. Some even do group coaching, but it’s not as popular.

The first steps of financial coaching include getting to know the client and their behavior with money, so you’ll probably have more sessions and then slowly lower the number. After understanding your client, it’s time to work and develop a financial plan that will help them improve their financial decisions. This time is also essential, so clients develop trust in you.

It’s good to have some essential solutions ready based on your niche, and then you can update and change them based on your client’s requirements. Keep in mind that your first system isn’t going to be perfect. You’re going to have to test it out and improve it. 

Marketing

If you want to have a successful business, you need to invest time and money in good marketing. Anything from choosing a name to creating a website is essential in your business journey. 

A part of marketing is also how you portray yourself to your clients. You need to have your story ready, and you need to know your niche and personal values. Client testimonials and recommendations are a great way to get new clients, so impressing people doesn’t stop as soon as you get paid. 

Getting Clients

Speaking of getting clients, that is arguably the hardest step to take in any business, especially when you’re just starting. How do they know whether they can trust you? How can they know if you’re good at being a financial coach? 

You can get your first clients in a couple of different ways, You can pair up with local financial advisors, and they can recommend your business to their clients for a fee. You can also use referrals from friends or past clients. Lastly, you can use your website and social media to develop your online presence and get clients this way. 

Getting Paid

Getting paid is a different problem. You need money to live, and you need to price your offer accordingly. There are a couple of suggestions you can give. Remember not to undersell your financial coaching services, but don’t oversell if you’re new. 

Most financial coaches work on a fee-only basis, something we wrote about earlier in the article. However, there are some other ways you can incorporate. 

Percentage of Income

Some financial coaches charge based on a percentage of income. This is a good option for those with moderate income, but clients with big paychecks might feel intimidated by this price. 

Monthly Retainer Option

The monthly retainer model is suitable for clients with low income. In this case, clients pay for the services in the next month upfront.  

Packages

You can offer package deals for financial coaching. For example, if you work based on a six-month system, you can sell your clients a six-month package worth of work. 

The Tiered Income-Based Pricing System

You can also base your fees on tiered income if you have clients from different backgrounds. Those with higher income can pay you more, while those with lower income have lower prices. 

Own Your Finances

Achieving financial goals and being financially independent is everybody’s dream. To do this, you need to learn and improve your relationship with money and find different ways in which you can invest in your future. There are various tips people will give you on how to own your finances, but we’re here to introduce you to one – the concept of Infinite Banking

What do you need to make this concept work? Only a Whole Life insurance policy

You can create an endless banking system by overfunding your life insurance. This might seem complicated, but it’s a relatively simple method that helps you become your banker. 

Here’s how it works. Every overfunded life insurance policy has a specific cash value, which is the overfunded amount. The benefit of this cash value is that you can borrow it as a loan and pay it back later. But here’s the thing – the money is yours anyway, so you’re borrowing from yourself and paying it back with the rate of return. 

There are only a couple of steps you need to take. 

The first thing you need to do is overfund your Whole Life insurance policy. This is how you create the cash value, which culminates over time. The cash value is tax-free because it’s funded with after-tax money. Next, you can take out a loan against your life policy’s cash value. 

Borrowing funds from yourself means that you have to pay them back at an interest rate, but this time you’ll have no additional fees that a bank would usually make you pay. Also, the money in your policy will still compound and earn dividends. 

Becoming your bank is one of the many steps you can take toward financial independence and wealth. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article helped you learn more about financial coaches, whether you need one or whether you should become one. Financial coaching is an excellent method to get help with controlling your money but make sure you know what you’re getting into before jumping in blindly. 

Also, we hope that this article made you interested in the concept of becoming your bank with the help of your Whole Life insurance policy.