Financial planner or coach? In 2008, I was struggling with a career decision. A friend asked me: "what's stopping you from getting coach-certified?". What indeed?
I had been a professional financial planner for more than a decade. For many of those years, I had considered becoming a certified coach. I took courses at Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary. My coaching books jostled for space on my bookshelf with those on financial planning. I'd researched accreditation programs offered in both Canada and the U.S.
But still, I hesitated. The coaching program required a significant investment of time and money. And what did it have to do with financial planning? Would I have to choose between two different career paths? At my age, was it too late to make such a change?
Like many people faced with a significant professional or personal decision, I needed a nudge. It was my friend, herself a certified coach, who provided both the challenge and the encouragement with her provocative question – “what's stopping you?”.
I took the next small step. I phoned the Hudson Institute of Coaching, my top choice of school, the very next day. In a wonderful case of serendipity, a single spot in an otherwise full program had just opened up due to a last minute cancellation for the training program scheduled to start the following week. I was in!
To my delight, I discovered the coaching process is a perfect complement to financial planning. My technical expertise allows me to help clients bridge the "learning gap" by explaining financial planning strategies. My coaching skills allow me to help clients bridge the "motivation gap" by providing step-by-step action plans that make it easier to implement their chosen strategies.
It turns out I didn't have to make a choice between financial planning or coaching. I could integrate the two skill sets. And by happenstance, I found myself at the forefront of the rapidly growing field of behavioural finance.