What Financial Coaching is and How to Become a Financial Coach

What Is a Financial Coach?

“Think of a financial coach like a personal trainer, whose job is to help you discuss, establish and uphold positive routines,” says Julie Genjac, managing director of applied insights at Hartford Funds. Like a personal trainer who helps you understand your relationship with food and exercise, creates strategies to prevent your natural desires from derailing your efforts and encourages you to stick to your plan, a financial coach does the same for your finances.

“Financial coaches are there to help you establish a positive relationship with money and determine what your natural motivations are towards saving and spending – and then building accountability into your decisions going forward,” Genjac says. They “know you and your mindset, and they help keep you on financial track with day-to-day behaviors, thoughts and, most importantly, encouraging small successes.”

Why Become a Financial Coach?

Vaught became a financial coach when she realized there was a gap in the marketplace, specifically among Gen Xers. “No one was talking to us about our money,” she says. “You can make all the money in the world, but if you haven’t learned basic money management principles, poor money habits can eventually sabotage your progress.”

Financial coaching and traditional financial planning can be a potent combination. Financial advisors who double as behavioral coaches know how to create a financial plan with behavioral bumpers around predictable behaviors that could derail a client.

How to Become a Financial Coach

You don’t need to get financial licenses or any certifications to become a financial coach. Simple life experience can be enough. Still, many experts recommend at least looking into getting your licenses or a more formal education.

Financial coaches who are not advisors would be limited in what they could offer clients in terms of financial planning and portfolio construction, Burr says. Such an individual may look more like a financial therapist, he says, and may work with a certified financial planner.Getting a certification or more formal education, such as the accredited financial counselor designation offered by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, will only improve your knowledge base and ability to market yourself to clients. “Anyone can call themselves a financial coach, but if you are a coach with all the proper licenses and skill sets as a financial advisor, you will be better positioned to help the client,” Hubler says.