June sunshine is streaming through my new office window as I prepare for events this month where I’ll be sharing the work I’ve created and developed.
I'm excited about the opportunity to inspire client-centred financial advisers about the emotional wow factor of integrating coaching into their practices. I'll be speaking at the Personal Finance Society’s POWER of Financial Planning Conference next week and delivering my own Financial Coach Practitioner Training with my team the week after.
Preparing for both has caused me to step back for a moment to look at my work; to reflect on what I do and why financial coaching is so important. I’ve also recently moved house, which has prompted me to take a fresh look at the life I have created, and the journey that led me to this current place and work.
I transitioned from a financial advisor to a financial coach when I realised that there was far more to working with people and their money than focusing on maximising assets. How much more meaningful would it be to work the other way round? To focus on life and then see how money could maximise my clients’ fulfilment and enjoyment. And recognising that to do this, I also needed to be able to help clients transform their emotional relationship with money.
Money touches everyone
As one client recently put it:
“The genius of working with money as a medium is that money touches everyone. In money we instil hope, dreams and fears. How we hold shame can be seen by our relation to money as well as that in which we hold pride. Working through the medium of money enables you to access client’s behaviour and emotion, as well as the unconscious workings of belief, value and trust. You can work as deep or as superficially as the relationship allows."
Soul nourishing work
This work nourishes me in a way that financial advising was never able to. Let me describe one day, to give you a sense of what I mean. It was one recent Tuesday that seemed to shine with the joy and satisfaction this work can bring. As well as the usual emails and phone calls, the day included three sets of two-hour sessions with clients.
A day in the life of…
The first session involved helping a woman to see how successfully she had managed to begin the process of gradually easing away from employed life towards setting up her own business, inspired by her passions. Identifying blocks, we gently worked through these, creating a breakthrough in her mind-set. We then moved on to preparing her to negotiate fees in her new role. We rehearsed different strategies and scenarios and identified exercises to support her in believing in her value. This included a practice I taught her to take away that awkwardness that can inhibit negotiating a good deal for yourself, leaving you exuding confidence, even when moments before you hadn’t felt it. She emailed later that week to express gratitude in helping her successfully negotiate a fee that far exceeded what she could have hoped for.
My client in the second session also planned to start a new chapter in her life, first taking a break from the busyness of life to give herself headspace to unwind, reflect and connect back to herself. Working through various life planning exercises, the vision of her future life started to slowly unfold throughout the session, where she saw all the qualities that were profoundly important to her in this new beginning.
The last session brought a tinge of sadness, mixed with admiration, as I helped a refreshingly united couple work out how best to financially separate after 14 years of marriage. They wanted to do this in the most harmonious way, taking care of each other. They didn’t want to get caught up in legalities, claims and entitlements of normal separation proceedings, and they came to me because they wanted to have a conversation that was witnessed, facilitated, potentially challenged and navigated to ensure they were making the right decisions for the right reasons.
Through these three sessions, I used a wide range of tools in my toolkit – from the fields of coaching, NLP, personal finance and financial life planning. I took my clients through various processes, questions and exercises, which helped them connect to their desired realities and overcome obstacles. On a practical level, I also used Excel and Cashcalc for practical calculations such as modelling different scenarios and estimating mortgage calculations and future spending plans. That’s coaching: empowerment and empathy mixed with financial know-how.
My future vision
This is what I most love about my work. The rich variety of clients I work with and the different ways in which my work can support, guide and inspire, while also helping clients confront and overcome their obstacles.
This is why I take this work, and these tools and concepts, beyond my own business and beyond my own clients. Through my training courses, I am passing on my inspiration, skills and tried and tested methodologies, so this work can potentially reach so many more people. If this approach can be integrated into financial advising, it could bring about a paradigm shift in the way we think and work with finances, helping to change the face of financial services for the future.
In my own practice, I work with clients through Skype or Zoom, by telephone, and with face-to-face sessions in my new garden office. I still pinch myself when I look at my new home and workplace, with uninterrupted views over the South Downs, or when I glance up from my computer to see horses passing by. Perhaps the best part of having created the life and work that is right for me is being able to help others to do the same.
Photo by Simona George Photography