Should Advisors Hire a Coach or Consultant?

If you’re considering working with a coach or consultant to grow your financial advising practice, congratulations. You’ve reached a common phase in the career of a financial advisor.

Coaches and consultants can work with advisors looking to take that next professional step. Their specialties may include sales, marketing, practice management or technology.

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Maybe you feel stuck and aspire to grow your business. Or perhaps you need some specific help for your practice to thrive. But you might not be sure of whom to hire or how to best use their services.

Defining what you want and looking for a coach or consultant who fits your vision are the first steps to regaining momentum in your practice. Here’s what advisors should know about how — and when — to hire a coach or consultant.

What Is a Coach or Consultant for Financial Advisors?

Many professionals use the terms “coaching” and “consulting” interchangeably, making it hard to know what services are being offered. But, yes, there’s a difference between the two.

Having a clear understanding of what that is will help you make an informed decision on the best option for your needs.

Coaches. A coach works to help improve performance, establish and meet goals, understand and resolve challenges, and focus on growth. Similar to athletic coaching, the coach’s focus is on unlocking the client’s potential. A good coach brings an outside-in perspective, offering insight, accountability and support.

The benefits of a coaching engagement can be measured by the performance of the financial advisor and the results achieved by the business. Those outcomes may include increasing the financial advisor’s client base, boosting revenues or building better client relationships.

Consultants. On the other hand, consultants do a specific type of work for your business. When hiring a consultant, you should have a clear statement of what resources and knowledge you need to supplement your efforts. The consultant then provides those expert services to accomplish tasks or reach goals.

A consultant may assist you with migrating from one customer relationship management platform to another, help you launch your independent practice or develop a succession plan.

[Read: 8 Tips for Newly Independent Financial Advisors]

Types of Coaches and Consultants

Coaches and consultants may have a variety of focus areas: mindset, sales, marketing, practice management, technology or recruiting, for example. Some professionals may cover more than one area.

There are both industry-specific and outside professionals available to help you. The best resources will depend on your career stage, interests, business priorities and goals.

When Financial Advisors Should Hire a Coach or Consultant

It’s hard to say if there’s an exact “right time” to hire a coach or consultant. Stephanie W. McCullough, founder and CEO of Sofia Financial in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, worked with her first coach to make sure she was making the best career choice when she entered the industry.

As she launched her practice, she decided to hire a business development coach. “I knew I needed help with sales,” she says. “You’ll want to be clear on what you’re looking for when you connect with someone you’re considering hiring to assess which professional will be best to meet your needs.”

The Differences Between a Coach and Consultant

Accountability frames a coaching relationship. A coach assumes the client is fully capable and has all the resources he or she needs to be successful.

Instead of teaching, a coach helps you focus your business ideas, choose goals, develop strategies, commit to actions, stay accountable and remove roadblocks.

A coach’s job is to help you optimize execution using your resources and smarts, and maximize results. A coach is there to challenge you, help you think about key business decisions and train you in the effective use of your resources. A coach is your personal cheerleader and provides accountability to help you achieve your goals.

Teaching activates a consulting engagement. A teaching or training approach is how most consultants work with their clients. The consultant’s job is to deliver quality information. The value for you is access to new information and expertise.

Often, consultants lead clients to adopt their methods and processes, building an efficient operational framework. A consultant can teach clients real-world strategies that will help them improve business performance.

[READ: What to Know About Working as a Freelance Financial Planner.]

How to Find the Right Fit

There are several popular avenues to finding the right coaching or consulting professional for your advising practice. That’s true whether that person is within the industry or outside it.

The local chamber of commerce, conferences, networking events, your existing professional network, and friends and family are top resources. Don’t forget social media platforms such as LinkedIn, where you can do targeted searches.

You can also search the internet for a coach or consultant and read their reviews. Ask for references from current clients. And don’t forget about professionals outside your geographical area. More professionals started coaching and consulting virtually during the coronavirus pandemic.

Doing the upfront research to assess the best fit is essential. But in the end, you’ll get the most out of a coaching or consulting experience by maintaining a willingness to learn and grow.

More from U.S. News

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