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Do you have a financial coach?

financial coach CopyAs investors, we can be our own worst enemy. There are times when clients want us to make changes to their portfolio in reaction to headlines in the news. It is our job to ensure they have the discipline to stick with their personal investment plan.

There are a few basic elements in every good coaching relationship.

Trust

Having a person or team who can act as a guide to your planned destination can be invaluable to your financial future. Establishing the trust necessary to maintain any good coaching relationship is gained through listening, educating, follow through and honest feedback. The process of establishing this trust typically begins with a series of conversations where an advisor will ask you to discuss your long-term objectives, things that matter most to you in life, the concerns you might have about being able to accomplish your goals, and other personal aspects of your life. To obtain the complete picture, it is imperative that the advisor shows empathy and creates an environment where you feel comfortable.

A coach is someone that has specialized in a certain discipline and has gained enough knowledge and experience to be able to teach others. The coach has a goal of sharing this knowledge so others may improve their personal outcomes. It is a shared responsibility attempting to achieve your goals. A mutual satisfaction is achieved when a coach can guide and help overcome obstacles. This is done in a collaborative environment. Building on the initial conversations, the coach must design a personal training plan that will help forward your personal objectives. This structure type of relationship helps foster trust.

Your financial coach will be honest with you about your financial picture and provide you with feedback on your spending habits, saving habits, investment choices and planning options. The game plan will be laid out for you and, like any good coach, it will be explained with transparency and simplicity so that you, the key player knows exactly the role you must play in bringing the plan to fruition.

Support

It is in our human nature to have emotional responses. If acted upon, these reactions can be damaging to your investment performance during time of uncertainty. When people are scared or elated, it has been proven that most investors behave badly. This natural reaction creates a tendency to react quickly or overreact when there are disruptions, both large and small, in the financial markets. Having a relationship built on trust with an advisor can help you stay on track with your investment goals through good times and bad.

According to a scholarly article on investor behavior published by the SEC, investors tend to fall into predictable patterns of destructive behavior. “Specifically, many investors damage their portfolios by under diversifying; trading frequently; following the herd; favoring the familiar (domestic stocks, company stock, and glamour stocks); selling winning positions and holding onto losing positions (disposition effect); and succumbing to optimism, short-term thinking, and overconfidence (self-attribution bias).” As a coach, we help you stay on plan.

Goals

Every person approaches life differently and has a different understanding of their financial situation. This can even be true in a relationship between a couple. There are a few elements that must be reviewed to provide an understanding of what is possible. What are your resources, what would you like to see happen, and what are the priorities? You would think that these questions would be easy to answer. Once these questions are answered you can begin to design an investment plan. The investment plan will help keep you on course during good times and bad.

The resources should be straight forward, but perception can play a big role. One person may view the value of the resources as insufficient, where another might feel very comfortable. It is important to spend sufficient time on the subject of your resources; everyone has a different view of “enough”. Perspective will likely play a role in what is possible. As perspective evolves, goals may change. It is valuable to have a coach facilitate this dialog, as it might make a difference in maximizing what you want to accomplish during your life.