Two weeks ago I wrote about how many so-called business “coaches” use techniques to pass themselves off as gurus, claiming to have the secrets to achieving your desired level of success.  I detailed how by simply writing a check to a branding agency (Celebrity Branding, Status Factory), you can buy testimonials from b-list celebrities like Suzanne Summers, Leeza Gibbons, Joe Theismann, and Kevin Harrington.  Throw in a “hero” story or two about how they once had it all, lost it all, and then got it all back and they start to build empathy with their audience.

Then, they host workshops where they spout off one anecdote after another by quoting a number of different best selling business books.  They show photos of great performers and emphasize how every achiever had coaches, trainers, and mentors.  They emphasize how hiring a coaching is not actually “spending” money, but rather “investing” money.  They go even further by stating “money invested in yourself is worth more than money invested in equities.”

They play one testimonial after another, usually taken at the start of the coaching relationship, never at the end.  I wonder why?

They then offer a “coaching” program that costs as much as a new Lexus.  Don’t have the money?  They tell you to put in on your credit card.  Pull it out of your IRA.  Remember, “you’re investing.”

Most programs give you nothing but time with the “coach.”  They’ll happily provide you other things like a co-written book or seminar system,  but for an extra price.

Full disclosure:  I do train a number of financial advisors through my company Advisor Architect, LLC.  I do think many advisors can benefit from outside mentoring and guidance.  But just like certain types of heart medicine, what can keep some alive can actually kill others.

You should know when you’re  being exposed to manipulative persuasion techniques, when you’re being overcharged, and when you’re most likely to be wasting your money given what you receive in return.

So, who needs a “coach” and what should look for when you hire one.

Good “coaches” offer three things:  Great ideas, systems that work, and the resources to implement them.  If you are lacking in either of these three things, then keep reading.  If not, you don’t need a “coach.”

You need to achieve some success before hiring a coach.  Yes, I know.  There’s that one “coach” who took a guy from selling cars to producing $1 million of AUM in three years.  If that bozo can do it, so can you.

Look, people win lotteries too.  It’s still not the best way to build wealth.

But hiring a coach will work best when there’s already some proven talent and ability.  Phil Jackson is a great coach only because he always coached teams with talent.  In fact, had Jackson coached the Nets instead of the Bulls & Lakers, he’d be known as a lousy coach.  Personally, I will not take on an advisor who isn’t already generating $200,000 of revenue.  Success comes, but rarely overnight, so patience is necessary.  Success also requires capital.  I’m not a fan of an advisor going broke today in order to become rich tomorrow.  A Lotto ticket is only a buck.  “Coaches” cost a bit more.  In another post, I’ll write about how a new financial advisor should get started (hint, it has a lot to do with books).  In a future post, I’ll write about how a new financial advisor should get started (hint, it has a lot to do with books, not expensive “coaches.”).

You have to be willing to leave your comfort zone.  This is not easy for everyone.  If I asked you to hand $50 to a total stranger, could you do it?  If not, stop reading.

Still with me?  Okay, now here’s what to look for before you hire a “coach”:

  1. Is he still a successful advisor? My personal trainer knows a great deal about how to get physically fit.  She’s built like the college basketball player she once was…20 years ago.  She walks the walk.  Do not hire a former advisor (or even worse a failed advisor) who tells you he has found the secret to success and now has a passion to save other advisors and their clients.  Jesus saves.  The rest of us seek profit hopefully by doing something we enjoy doing.  Hire someone who still lives in the trenches, just like you.
  2. Does he provide you with all the tools (co-authored books, seminar systems, graphic design) necessary to implement his recommended systems, or does that only come at an additional cost?
  3. Is his fee more than what you need to spend to market your business?
  4. Does he charge you more to pay him in installments versus in one lump sum? I know of one guy who charges 16% interest if you try to pay in installments.  Look for a program that charges you monthly so that you pay as you go.
  5. How accessible will he be? Can you contact him outside of your scheduled calls?

More than anything, make your decision a logical one.  Weigh all the factors.  If you do proceed, be sure to fully implement the recommended changes.  Don’t let this well-intended effort go the way of your treadmill that now sits in the basement gathering dust.