Written By: Kate Griffin
As financial professionals offering valuable services, you know that the magic happens when you get a client at just the right moment – that moment when she is ready to make a change, when he is making an important decision that can establish a new financial habit. The most important question in your arsenal may be, “What’s going on in your life?”
Financial coaching is taking off as a field. In the recently released document Financial Coaching Census 2015, over 10,000 people are being coached every month in this country. We hope that trusted professionals are coaching each of them when they are most ready to establish and build good habits.
As coaches, you have an opportunity to interact with people at that critical moment. Earlier this year, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) released the Financial Capability Lifecycle. This graphic shows both on-going, recurring events, and major life moments where we’ve found people are making financial decisions, establishing a new or different financial habit, and are likely to be amenable to either working with a coach or to start using a new financial product. These are the moments where you can ask, “What are you worried about, dreaming about, planning for?” That’s the lynchpin upon which your client will be making financial decisions. Across the lifecycle, there are multiple times and ways in which people are primed to look around — for advice, for products, for a helping hand — before making a decision that carries a financial impact.
For example, when we work with people who are getting ready for their first job, they are primed to be making key financial decisions, such as where to deposit the paycheck, what benefits to take advantage of, and how to allocate their income. These decisions are critical not only for how they affect today’s financial capability, but for their downstream impacts as well – how they affect a person’s long-term financial well being. The lifecycle framework then goes on to explore the types of products and services we can offer and the delivery channels we might use to ensure that someone in that lifecycle moment is set up for success.
It is also, however, in the unexpected moments where opportunity lies. Things like losing a job, getting very sick, divorce, or caring for aging family members all carry significant financial impacts. As people seek help in those unforeseen moments, financial professionals can be a critical part of weathering the storm.
The majority of respondents to the Financial Coaching Census 2015 noted that coaching is being bundled into other service offerings, ensuring people not only receive the financial support they need but are also able to address other critical elements of their life. When we partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to publish What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future for Families, Communities, and the Nation, we highlighted the myriad of ways in which people’s financial health and well-being affect other parts of society. Health, education, employment, and more all are affected when the people they serve are financially vulnerable. There is a strong case to be made for these critical systems to be embedded in your services and seamlessly offered as an integrated part of programs.
For example, employers are increasingly recognizing that a workforce that feels financially in control is a more productive workforce. A 2016 PWC study states that over half of all employees are stressed about their finances. Financial stress is even more prevalent with young people— 64% of millennials report that they’re stressed about finances. When taking into account other stressors, 45% of employees say that financial matters create the most stress in their lives. This is almost as many as those workers whose top stress is their job, health or relationships combined!
So why should employers care? Low assets and financial stress lead to lost time on the job: 46% of workers spend three hours or more at work thinking about or dealing with issues related to personal finances. That’s 150 hours employers lose in productivity per employee every year.
Showing the impact such financial vulnerability has on other areas of life creates a compelling case for further bundling services such as yours. Additionally, it puts you as a trusted coach or counselor directly in front of potential clients at a key moment in their lifecycle –at a moment when you can have the greatest impact on changing their financial lives for the better.
Kate Griffin is CFED’s Vice President for Programs, providing strategic oversight for the organization’s asset building and financial capability programs, including savings, homeownership and entrepreneurship.