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What is financial coaching and why should employers care?

fin coaching

When it comes to money, almost everybody knows they should spend less and save more. What they often struggle with is ‘how’.

What they need isn’t another article to read or a fancy calculator. Instead, it’s a person who can help them figure out exactly how to do that, in a way that is realistic given their current situation. They need a financial coach.

Coaches help people get better at doing something, like participating in a sport or learning to handle new responsibilities in the workplace. Executive coaches, for example.

A financial coach is a professional who helps people learn how to get better at managing money, day-to-day and month-to-month—the nitty-gritty stuff, like creating a realistic budget. That often involves helping someone understand their relationship with money so that they can build more positive financial behaviors, and working together to address any immediate issues. Positive financial behaviors such as saving regularly, paying down debt, and increasing a person’s credit score can improve their financial situation in the short term and set them up for success in reaching their longer-term financial goals as well. (cough, retirement, cough)

How is a financial coach different from a financial advisor?

Financial coaching is a relatively new field. A financial coach does not give financial advice about investments, taxes, or legal issues that affect a person’s finances. In fact, a financial coach doesn’t give any advice per se, sell financial products, or tell a client what they should do. Coaches often work with people who have moderate or even low incomes, and they help people address financial issues beyond retirement. Compared to financial advisors, they typically meet more frequently with clients to provide support, help troubleshoot, and provide accountability.

What a financial coach does is help a person describe their life goals, look at the financial aspects of those goals, and then explore with the client what they can realistically do to move closer to the goal. The focus is less on achieving a number and more on taking small steps to create positive financial behaviors. For example, rather than setting a goal of saving 6 months of living expenses, which can feel overwhelming for someone earning a moderate income, a coach would help a client explore how they might start saving $25 a week. By helping to set clients up for long-term success, a financial coach’s role is complementary to that of a financial advisor.

Coaches can work with clients to create a realistic spending plan or a plan for paying down credit card debt. But it’s still up to the client to follow through and work on the plan. It’s like having a personal trainer—the trainer can help a person create a plan for getting healthier but it’s still up to them to be more physically active and eat more vegetables. They decide what activities and which vegetables. And they can still have a cookie or a latte from time to time. It’s about making long-term changes and building new habits instead of going on a crash diet.

What makes Questis Financial Coaching effective?

We help people change their financial behaviors.

We provide a toll-free number where they can talk to a human being and get support right away–help with a technical issue, scheduling an appointment with an experienced coach, or connecting them with an expert in investment advising or retirement planning.

Questis coaches are certified by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education®, the gold standard in financial coaching. Our Accredited Financial Counselors® know the basics of personal finance inside and out, and combine that with behavioral finance skills to help clients take one positive step at a time.

Why employers and HR professionals should care

The pandemic has laid bare the uncomfortable fact that a majority of workers struggle with some level of financial stress, and a recent survey estimates the cost to employers in the billions of dollars—per week. Financial wellbeing beyond mere access to a 401(k) plan is something that employees are seeking, and employers who can offer an effective benefit that supports both short-term and longer-term financial goals are more likely to recruit and retain talented employees.

Financial wellness is a bit of a buzzword currently, and there are a lot of financial services companies claiming to offer a financial wellness solution. All too often, that check-the-box financial wellness solution is just one-size-fits-all educational content.

Questis offers more: financial empowerment. We provide people to support your people with financial confidence, skill-building, and evidence-supported tools to promote positive financial behaviors, tailored to the individual.

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