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Financial Advisors’ Next Act: Coaching

When JJ Peller graduated from college in 2013, he knew what he wanted to do: Join his father’s financial advisory practice at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Over the next five years, Peller licensed his Series 7 and 66, as well as others, and indulged himself in his work.

But during that time, he realized that what really excited him was something unexpected, namely, learning what people liked and doing his best. So he started working as a professional coach. Eventually, he took the plunge and all went in. Now, he is a full-time Executive Business Coach at Carson Coaching, where he works solely with financial advisors. “I’m better suited to be a coach,” he says.

Peller is one of a growing number of professionals in the financial services industry who choose coaching as their second job. Typically, they combine insights from their previous careers with professional development skills to help advisors develop their practices to tackle problems ranging from succession strategies. Fees range from several hundred to as much as $1,000 an hour.

winding roads

Coaching success requires understanding the basics of what is and isn’t a coach. Unlike counseling, where experts basically tell their clients what to do, coaches usually help consultants figure out the best course of action on their own through a series of questions and gentle suggestions. With this in mind, a fair amount of empathy and understanding of human psychology is needed. “You need to know when to step back and step back and how to talk to different personalities,” says former financial advisor Michael Rose, who also served as executive business coach at Carson Coaching. He says it’s especially useful for dealing with the hard-charging, Type A personality that finances attract.

Consultants come to their new profession through winding roads. Peller, for his part, spent most of his time as a consultant working with existing clients and networking with business-owner prospects. But when he discovered his interest in personal development, he began speaking on the subject, focusing on business owners. After bumping into a friend who asked Peller to be his coach, Peller began working with entrepreneurs. A year later, he discovered Carson and realized that zeroing in on financial advisors was the perfect fit.

Jane Williams, on the other hand, became a coach after decades as an advisor and chair of the Board of Governors of the Investment Advisors Association, among other positions. She co-founded a firm, Sand Hill Global Advisors, in Palo Alto, Calif., which she and her partners sold in 2000, then bought back before eventually retiring from business last year. In 2020, through a friend, she began working as a contractor at DeVo & Company, a consulting and coaching firm focused on RIAs. “I think, in my career, I’ve coached clients and employees a lot,” she says.

Experience Vs. Training

Mentored coaches don’t need to take any special courses, especially if, like Williams, they can harness years of experience. That said, for those who don’t have a full career insight to draw from, there are a number of programs available that offer to learn the fundamentals or teach coaching techniques to become certified through places such as the International Coaching Federation. . And many who take them, wear them by.

Take Valerie Chaney. She was working as a mentoring coach at the firm, where she was also a financial advisor, when, in 2005, she studied for two years at Erickson College International, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based school, to focus on coaching. Did. After that, he obtained additional certifications at the Center for Coaching Certification and moved to Practice Management Development. In 2013, she joined CEG Worldwide to train financial advisors.

She says the courses taught her strategies that put her in good stead. “You can’t come in with experience as a mentor and be an effective coach,” says Chani, who is now director of coaching at CEG.

Still, some consultants say that there is much to learn while on the job. Former financial advisor Jay Coulter, who also worked in corporate asset management, found that he liked the coaching life after a friend helped him value the advisor’s business. He started his own firm, Resilient Advisors, in 2016 and has built systems in client communication, investment, marketing and leadership since its inception. They quickly found that their process was very detailed, with a specific timeline for everything from sending emails to setting up client reviews. “I loved it, because that’s how my brain works,” he says. “But I found very quickly that it failed because it was too complicated.” He was still thinking too much like a mentor. Coaching is a different matter. When he simplified the system significantly, he began to have more success with customers.

what customers want

Typically, financial advisor clients have had some degree of success. They couldn’t possibly afford the price tag otherwise. And they are usually the head of a firm or in charge of their own practice; However, in some cases, they bring employees along for a few sessions.

If they are successful, why do these consultants seek professional help? Usually, “it’s because they feel stuck,” Chani says. Most of the time, they don’t know what the problem is. They only know that there is one. Another common issue: They want to serve the lesser and richer families, but they can’t.

Chani points to a recent client who has been trying to introduce a new client service process for some time to help him reduce the number of accounts while serving the more affluent. But he didn’t have the ability to do so. Through their discussions, Chani learns that the man’s problem lies in his inability to submit to him. For example, when he asked her to describe his typical day, he learned that he was doing business himself and taking care of various administrative tasks. She helped him figure out how to focus on high-level tasks and delegate more mundane responsibilities.

Often, problems are related to a consultant’s lack of specific training in the basics of running a business. For example, other issues frequently discussed include the reluctance of customers to ask friends for referrals and matters related to staffing. “There is no part of his training that includes managing a business or people,” says Rose.

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