Read these five top tips on coaching your clients

    I started my practice in 1998, incorporating as Ovation Finance in 2000. I discovered business coaching after receiving three sessions myself 2010. It genuinely changed my life because it helped me to realise that I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing in my practice.

    As a result, I made some significant changes both to the practice and my life, centered around making myself the least important person in my business. I started spending Wednesdays at home writing novels.

    I now joke that I don’t really do anything at all in Ovation these days – and yet I’ve never been busier. The Financial Wellbeing Book is one business output of this freedom I have carved out.

    Those changes all came about because of those three coaching sessions.

    Another change I decided to make was to train for a diploma in business coaching. I then brought those skills into our service proposition. All our advisers have coaching training and that’s how we deliver our advice. I offer my services through coaching firm Quiver Management.

    Part of coaching is getting clients to ‘dare to dream’. If you create a plan that shows their dreams are achievable, then meet regularly to track progress, they are going to become loyal clients. In fact, they’re not just going to become referrers, they will become ambassadors.

    So, here are five things you need to know about coaching.

    1. Coaching is not about communication skills

    Financial advisers need to be good at communicating. We’re well-trained in spotting solutions, at imparting knowledge. But what about listening?

    Telling a client all the rules on pension freedoms is not interpersonal skills. That’s showing off.

    Coaching isn’t even about understanding. Understanding is better than communication. However, although improved ‘Know Your Client’ is a very useful byproduct, it is not coaching.

    Coaching is not communication. It is the use of interpersonal skills in order to help an individual understand themselves better.

    1. Coaching is not about you, it’s about your client

    What that means for most advisers is that we have to reverse our approach. No matter how good you are there will be times where in a meeting when it’s more about you, about your experience and knowledge, than it is about the client. That’s not coaching.

    For me, technical knowledge has little place in a meeting room. Being chartered doesn’t help the client to think. We need set aside the complicated stuff we’ve been trained on, the need show how clever we are. We need to be a facilitator and put all the focus on the client.

    1. Keep your questions clean

    A clean question is one that has no content. It has none of ‘you’ in it. It is one where the answer will be the same no matter who asks it.

    For example, the question: ‘what do you want to achieve’ is not great, because ‘achieve’ has a certain connotation. A better way to ask that question might be: ‘what would you like to happen?’.

    Examples of clean questions include: ‘when that happens, then what happens?’ and ‘what would have to happen in order for that to happen?’

    1. Don’t use blaming questions

    There are lots of different ways to start a question: If, how, what, when, where, who, and so on. The one word you should never use again at the start of a sentence is: ‘why’.

    If you start a question with the word ‘why’, the answer tends to be defensive. ‘Why’ is a challenging question. Instead, whenever you feel like you’re going to start with why, use ‘what’. The answer you get will be much more insightful.

    1. Know there’s a time and place to coaching

    Coaching is not always appropriate. The first plank of coaching is therefore contracting – knowing when to coach.

    There is a time and a place to do coaching. Sometimes it can feel exhausting to the client. I’m not suggesting you only become coaches because financial advisers should do a bit of both and know the right moments to coach.

    In conclusion, taking an approach of coaching first, then planning, then advice on products means your clients understand themselves better. If you have helped them work out a future then made it possible through planning, they will be clients forever!

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