Advisors are, for the most part, highly interested in becoming more successful. In a 2023 study of 421 advisors, about three-quarters reported a key concern was increasing assets under management. At the same time, about four out of five say they are very or extremely interested in learning industry best practices to serve clients better and create greater value for themselves.

There are various ways for advisors to become more capable. Learning from experience is familiar to everyone. For those advisors wanting to accelerate their success, turning to coaching services is becoming more prevalent.

Coaching is a potentially valuable service that can help advisors achieve more. To evaluate coaching, we use the following criteria to define the services:

• Coaching is focused on helping advisors become more professionally successful. For example, a coach can help advisors identify their strengths and weaknesses, set achievable goals, provide methodologies and introductions, and develop a plan to reach those goals. What is important to note is that coaching is directed at assisting advisors professionally.

• Coaching consists of multiple (six or more) individual and/or group sessions. Workshops, other events, or a meeting or two do not constitute coaching. They would be defined as educational sessions. Coaching is a process requiring ongoing involvement for a period.

• The expense of coaching can be borne by the advisor of third parties such as money management firms or broker/dealers. While many advisors pay for coaching services, some receive them from the financial institutions they are a part of. Sometimes, these financial institutions contract with coaching firms to deliver the services to advisors. But someone is always paying for the coaching services.

From our perspective, effective coaching results in greater monetary success and income within the advisor’s agenda. The bottom line is what ends up on the bottom line. Coaching is about enhancing the advisor’s ability to increase their income considering their available resources, including “time.” 

Over the years, the percentage of advisors who have used or are using a coach has increased (Exhibit 1). In 2023, nearly half of those surveyed have availed themselves of coaching services.

While coaching has become more prevalent, the issue is whether it delivers.

Does Coaching Work?
The short answer is “yes.” Based on the three studies, about 70% of the advisors who used coaching services reported they made them more successful (Exhibit 2). Very telling is that today, nearly nine out of 10 advisors who use or have used coaches say it has made them more successful.

The longer answer is that coaching can make a difference when advisors find the “right” coaches for themselves and their practices. It is important to note that more advisors have availed themselves of coaching services over the years and reported them as more efficacious. This correlates highly with advisors being more critical in selecting a coaching service (Exhibit 3).

While coaching is not the correct answer for every advisor, it can help many advisors achieve greater professional success. That success is predicated on selecting the “right” coach. 

Guidelines For Selecting A Coach
Based on a factor analysis of the advisors' responses who reported greater professional success in the 2023 survey, three guidelines result in them advocating for coaching (Exhibit 4).

The coach’s philosophical orientation. What you want from your coach is someone who can meet your needs and wants as they relate to your advisory practice. Therefore, you must understand and agree with your prospective coach's philosophical orientation. Advisors tend to have different definitions of success, as do coaching programs. Your definition and the one used by the coach you engage must align.

Another aspect of a coach’s philosophical orientation is who they accept as clients. Some coaches work much better with certain types of clients. Some coaches are better with newer advisors. Some coaches are particularly effective with advisors who need to position themselves and their services better. Other coaches are tremendous in team building.

By knowing the coach’s clients, you can get a good grasp of what they are about. You can then see if the coach's clients are, in keyways, like yourself. If the coach’s clients are similar to you and you can benefit from the coach’s services, then the two of you are more likely to be a good fit.

To ascertain a coach’s philosophical orientation, you can ask them to explain their views on coaching. Every high-quality coach can precisely delineate the benefits of their expertise and talents.

The coach’s process. You need to understand how the coach works, which is their “process.” Very importantly, what are their responsibilities, and what are yours? One reason advisors who use coaches are not as successful as they might be is that they do not put in the requisite time and effort. By clearly understanding your end of the bargain and what you are committing to, you maximize the success of your coaching experience.

Another aspect of the coach’s process you must be aware of is their pedagogical approach. Is it individually or conducted in a group setting, or a combination of the two? What level of access do you have to your coach? In a nutshell, how are you going to work together? 

Some coaches work with individuals and in groups and have also productized and packaged their materials into videos, kits or online sessions. What is important is that you know the different ways you can work with a coach and select those that would work best for you.

The coach’s business model. You need to know how the coach is compensated. Understanding their business models is one of the best indicators of their current and future behaviors. For instance, if a money management firm provides coaching services, your use of their investment products is how they are compensated. This is significantly different than paying out of pocket for coaching.

You are well served if you also learn about the coach’s operation. Does it all hinge on a single person, or are there other people who can also work with you? The importance of your coach having a well-established infrastructure is a function of the interaction you will have. By having a very good idea of what you are looking for from the coach and a basic idea of their infrastructure, you can determine if the arrangement will work well for you.

If you are like many advisors, coaching is a powerful means for you to accelerate your success. However, with an influx of coaches entering the business and many of them less than qualified, to truly benefit from a coach’s services requires selecting a top-notch coach who can effectively work with you and provide exceptional value.

Based on the research, there are three key guidelines that you want to use when deciding on which coach is right for you. Although they interconnect, it is essential that you can obtain a coach’s answers to the questions these guidelines pose. 

For coaching to work, you must select the proper coach for yourself and be willing to commit the requisite time and effort. You must be willing to work hard and have the courage to succeed. 

Russ Alan Prince is the executive director of Private Wealth magazine. Jerry D. Prince is the director of Integrated Academy, part of Integrated Partners.