Understanding the Concept of Coaching in the area of Wealth Management
This article gives an overview of the new evolving concept of Personal and Business Coaching surrounding the soft issues in the area of Wealth Management.
The general concept of coaching
The Coaching profession has gained increased recognition in the last twenty years, coming into common usage in many areas – business, management style, and investment decisions - as well as into our personal lives. It seems to be the latest trend amongst companies and private individuals. Organisations like Credit Swiss, Microsoft, IBM, GMH, Reebok, Dun & Bradstreet, and many others, hire personal coaches to provide coaching for their senior employees, whereas private individuals hire a personal coach to assist them in achieving various outcomes.
As you can imagine, the concept and its usage has been borrowed from sport. We are all familiar with successful sports figures who have hired a personal professional coach to work closely with in order to help them perform to the best of their ability. One of the well-known figures is Tiger Woods!
Having to personally work with a professional coach requires close and intense training, and the results speak for themselves. It is not surprising, therefore, that people have recognised the need for a similar approach outside the sports environment. The use of coaches has quickly spread into the business world and recently into the ‘secure’ wealth management arena. In a rapidly changing world and in increasingly unpredictable markets, there is much focus on learning to manage our finances and generating ongoing improvements in both areas of our lives – professional and personal.
How can those involved in the area of wealth management benefit coaching?
Coaching is particularly valuable when the person is facing new challenges. These challenges may be external, such as wealth transfer, succession decision, major projects or new businesses. Often, however, challenges may appear as internal ones, either prompted by external circumstances or by personal factors. Such challenges may appear as stress, under-performance, motivation issues, confidence or self-doubt. In many cases, it may not be possible or appropriate at the beginning for the person to discuss such issues within the company, with their advisor, family members or friends. Some examples to consider:
- Two brothers work together in the family business. One feels that his brother pulls his weight too much and exercises too much control. He has been afraid of saying anything, but now he feels that he cannot cope anymore. He hires a coach to focus on his communication with his brother and to help him identify and define his desirable working relationship.
- A wealth creator is looking at ways to transfer his wealth. He has received advice regarding the legal aspects and structures that are available to him. However, his dilemma is how to divide the shares. The younger son has his own career, while his other children are involved in the business. Does he split the shares equally? And how does he break the news with regard to his decision?
- A couple has built up a very successful business. They have reached a critical stage in the business development. There are too many decisions to make and goals to achieve. The stress is unbearable. They have employed coaches to work with them and their senior executives to support them in moving to ‘put things in place’ and move to the next stage.
- A private banker was experiencing communication difficulties with some of his clients. It seems that they were talking a different language. He worked with his coach to identify the source of the problem and managed to change the communication style.
- A young man in his early twenties has been working in the family business since he left school. His parents always assumed that he will carry on in the business and will take over from his father. This is not the career path the young man has chosen. He wants to leave, but does not feel confident enough to break the news to his parents, particularly to his father. He has worked with a personal coach in order to develop the confidence required to break the news to his father.
- A young inheritor in his early thirties wants his family to have control over their financial affairs. His challenge is to involve the family in developing a shared mission and to assist each family member in identifying his/her personal financial goals. For five months he has worked with his coach on achieving these goals.
What advice can the coach give? In working with a coach there is no advice given. The aim of the work is to provide the client with the necessary tools that enables him or her to take the actions required to achieve the desired outcome.
The way it works
Coaching adopts an approach where two people come to an agreement to work together in order to achieve a desired outcome. It is not confined to a single track, and can take the most appropriate route to the desired destination. It focuses on the individual's needs and requirements, aiming to create the most flexible and tailored programme possible.
Personal and business coaching relies primarily on a talking model of impacting change. Focused questioning is used to get to the underlying issues of a person's goals, motivation and performance. Assessment tools such as self-rating questionnaires and 360-Degree Feedback are often used, particularly when coaching family business owners and their management team. A typical example of contact would be weekly telephone or personal sessions of between forty-five minutes and one hour over a period of at least three months. However, the involvement lasts usually six months to a year. Indeed, the coach may be retained as a resource for years, with contact re-established as required.
The coach's traditional role is as a personal advisor to the client, helping him achieve his goals. The role is founded on trust and expertise. The coach lends his experience, expertise and encouragement to the client and thereby helps the client meet his or her challenges.
The standard coaching model works on the basis of establishing a relationship. The client dictates the aim of each coaching session. The coach will drive the client to achieve the agreed goals. Regular sessions are essential so that progress can be monitored. These
sessions require preparation by the client so that they can take stock of their current position, successes, setbacks and new challenges.
There is another model of coaching that is centred on the process of Performance Enhancement. This model was developed because many performance issues arise not from lack of knowledge or ability, but from personal and often hidden barriers, which hinder the achievement of goals. I believe we have all met people that possess incredible talent and capability, but somehow they just never seem to live up to their full potential. Such personal issues usually cannot be solved by giving them advice alone.
It is important to note that the Performance Enhancement model works well with clients who have come up against personal barriers to achievement. In many cases they have the abilities, but lack the motivation, confidence or other resources to succeed. The coach helps the client develop the necessary personal resources; using simple yet powerful accelerated learning techniques. These, unlike advice, work at the level of beliefs, attitudes and values, and so can make profound and lasting changes both quickly and easily. Typically, a coaching module focusing on one major aspect of change will take only a few meetings.
Some final comments
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Before a coach becomes involved, the client will have to identify what he is looking for in a coach, thereby developing a better understanding of what coaching is and what he hopes to achieve.
Developing the understanding that the coaching relationship is more involved than people may be familiar with in their professional relationships, and it cannot be forced. Some believe that 'coachability' is the most critical factor in a successful coaching relationship. While potential clients may be capable of, and interested in change, they must also be personally committed and open to the processes involved in working with a coach.
The coach does not provide the expertise, but rather works to draw that ability out of the person being coached. He does it by uncovering barriers to facilitate achievement of goals. This type of relationship becomes much deeper and more exposed than consulting and most other business relationships. Even in the most successful mentoring relationships, the emphasis is on the wisdom and experience of the mentor, and the relationship does not necessarily delve into issues underlying performance and growth strategies. The difference relates to the shift in control, in which the focus is on the ability, and wisdom, the exists within the person being coached, that need to be accessed, so he develops accessibility to it and can learn to draw from it at any giving time.
Finally, using the words of a well-known and successful coach: “coaching is the art of facilitating people to manifest their intentions.”