why you don't need a financial coaching certificationWhy Trust Is More Important To Your Clients Than A Credible Financial Coach Certification 

I have been a financial coach for more than a decade now. I’ve coached hundreds of clients in that time. And you know how many have asked me what certifications I have? Maybe two? I don’t have any financial coach certifications, and in this post I want to tell you why you don’t need them either, and why building trust is way more important than your certifications as a financial coach.

Why You’re Looking For A Certification

If you are a coach who’s considered getting a certification in coaching, in finances, in something else that you think will lend you more credibility to the business you’re pursuing or maybe already running, I get it. Starting out in a new field, a new profession is scary because the unknown far outweighs the known. 

If you’re a new coach, you won’t have a bank of experience and knowledge to pull from as you start taking on and coaching clients. Because I’ve worked with so many clients over the years, my experience has given me a lot to pull from. I recognize newer coaches don’t have that internal resource, so I get the feeling that a certification will help you grow as a coach and be more prepared.

Getting A Certification Will Not Instantly Make You A Financial Coach

My husband and business partner Michael Dickey didn’t start his career as a financial coach. He was an athletic trainer who worked in sports medicine and had a Masters in Public Health Administration. So not a lot of what he previously did prepared him to run a financial coaching business with me. 

When he joined my business, he wanted to feel more legitimate. He had big time imposter syndrome. After all, he had to complete ongoing education and certifications to work in his previous role. He thought the same went for being a coach. 

He took classes, he got certifications, and he will tell you those gave him a slight confidence boost for a short time. But they didn’t make him a better coach. He was good at helping clients and understanding their journey because of his own experience. He built his confidence by using skills he’d learned and implemented managing his personal finances. Financial coach certifications didn’t teach him any of that. His experience did.

Michael did a 20-minute video review of the certifications he took. Check out his video in the Guides section of our free Facebook – Financial Coaches Unite. We’ve got more than 70 posts and hours of free training ready for you to binge today in the guides. Michael’s video is in Guide 2.

If you’ve already helped a friend or family member, if you’ve gotten out of debt yourself or if you’ve strengthened your own financial position, those experiences will give you confidence and knowledge to help your clients. That’s what you need more than a certification which honestly will likely only be impressive to other coaches, i.e. not your target market. 

We Used To Offer A Financial Coach Certification 

There are a bunch of certifications out there that exist for coaches, some offered by the iPEC, AFCPE, and National Financial Educators Council are geared toward financial coaching. I personally think they all miss the mark. 

In fact for a few years, we offered a financial coach certification. Coaches who signed up and completed our certification process could earn the designation of being a Certified Professional Financial Coach™. But we stopped offering it in 2019. 

It wasn’t that it was a bad certification. The program we created was comprehensive and thorough, and the coaches who earned our certification we believe are among the best of the best.

The thing is, in our heart of hearts, we knew a financial coach certification isn’t necessary. We thought it was what coaches wanted, so we created it. But what coaches want and what coaches actually need are two very different things. 

I’m here to tell you that while you may want a certification, you do not need one to become a financial coach. 

Between myself and the two other financial coaches on my team, we have zero certifications. But you know what we do have in spades? Experience (personal and paid), training, and drive. 

What you think a certification will do is give you the skills and knowledge to confidently call yourself a coach, to tackle any client challenge or question that comes your way, and to be seen as more legitimate in the eyes of your future clients and prospects. 

I’m sorry to say it’s a bunch of bunk.

I don’t buy into it for a few different reasons. 

Getting a Certification Will Not Give You Everything You Need

I am still learning and growing as a coach. I am engrossed in the work of experts who talk about everything from coaching to mindset to business building to finance. My inspiration and resources are varied, and I like it this way. 

There’s so much that goes into financial coaching that I’ve found most certifications focus on building your strengths in one area – not all the areas that it takes to be great. Some programs focus on teaching financial literacy, which is not the same as financial coaching. Some focus on soft coaching skills but offer no insights into what it takes to serve financial coaching clients. It’s really the marriage of coaching skills, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship that give you the confidence and skills to be a financial coach.

BTW, it’s the marriage of these skill sets that we focus on in our signature financial coach training program

To my last and probably most important point. 

Your Clients Will Not (And Should Not) Care If You Have A Financial Coach Certification

Financial coaches are not financial advisors. We don’t give stock advice or have fiduciary responsibilities. We are not highly regulated by FINRA. For better or worse, anyone can become a financial coach and help clients with no formal training or oversight necessary.

And you know who likely doesn’t care about that? Your current or potential clients. The crux of good financial coaching and being a good financial coach has nothing to do with certification. It is all about trust. 

Why You Need The Trust Triad (Not A Certification) to be a Good Financial Coach

If your clients are routinely asking if you’re certified, the bottom line is you’re not building trust. The trust triad is a three-pronged approach to building and keeping trust with your clients. It says that in order for someone to buy your services, they need to have the following:

  • Trust in you
  • Trust in your process
  • Trust in themselves

Let’s break these concepts down a little further so I can explain why they are crucial to your financial coaching business. 

Why A Client Needs to Have Trust in You

One might argue that in order for a client to trust you, a certification would help. It might. But in my experience potential clients are far more likely to trust you if you can demonstrate past, relatable experience and current client results. 

What do you think will speak more effectively to building trust:

  1. A certification given by an organization they’ve likely never heard of, or
  2. A why story that shows how you overcame your own financial challenges and how you’ve applied your experience to help others overcome theirs?

It’s no contest. Having client testimonials on your site that show how you have helped others is powerful. So is sharing your why story because it likely mirrors your potential clients’ struggles and insecurities. It is a far better way to build trust than including an organization’s seal in the footer of your website. 

That’s not to say you don’t include a logo if you have it, but that alone isn’t the thing that builds trust in you. Your experience, why you’re a coach, and proven results are true trust builders. 

A Client Needs To Trust In Your Process

As I said, anyone can become a financial coach. For better or for worse. A smart potential client might know and realize that, so what they’re looking for is the ability to trust in your process. 

What have you done as a coach that demonstrates you have a process that works and can get them the results they want? Your process is that thing that says I know what I’m doing, I have a system, I can do the thing I say I can do, and this is how. 

It’s one of the reasons I always tell coaches to include on their website a section that lays out their process. When you add a section that says to your client “first do this, second do this, third do this, and this is the result”, it is a trust building component. People want to know the path they are going to take when they sign up for coaching with you. So if you can clearly show them your process and how you take people from Point A to Point B, you are building trust. 

Let them know what to expect. Tell them that getting started is as easy as “Clicking here.” Incorporate client testimonials on your site that talk about how easy it was to work with you and describe what working with you was like. Peel back this curtain and let them see that they can trust in your process. 

If you’re looking for a process to take your clients through, check out the Financial Coaching Playbook. This $39 book will show you how to become a coach, build a program and take clients from Point A to Point B. Get a hard copy or the e-book here.

A Client Needs to Trust In Themself

I’m not going to lie. This third part of the trust triad is the hardest to achieve because some of it lies outside of your control. And here’s why: Even if you have the most amazing why story, testimonials plastered all over your website about how easy it is to work with you, and a clearly defined process, if your potential client doesn’t believe they can do it, they won’t sign up. 

They need to trust in themself enough to say, “This person can lead me to where I want to go AND I trust that I can follow them and implement their teaching.” 

Think about your own coaching journey. There may have been times where there was a program you wanted to purchase or an event you wanted to attend. And even though you thought it was amazing and could deliver on its promises, you doubted that you’d be up to the challenge. It’s unnerving thinking that you’re the problem, that you’re not up to it.

Your potential clients may feel the same way. They may want to hire a financial coach but don’t believe they are capable of making changes. They do not trust themself. 

So what’s a coach to do? 

Here are a few ways that you can help your potential clients build trust in themselves:

  • Get vulnerable in your marketing. Talk about a time where you didn’t feel confident you could achieve something. You were hesitant to try it. You were nervous you couldn’t do it. But then you did it anyway and that leap of faith made all the difference. And then relate it back to how they are feeling to show you understand. 
  • Inspire them. Coach them. Let them know this thing they think isn’t possible is possible because you’ve met with and worked with people who held those same beliefs. And those people went on to do great things. 
  • Show them what their ah-ha moments might be. We all have those moments where we’ve said “Enough. I need to make a change.” Think of the moments where your ideal client might say that. Ask yourself what are the things that might trigger that reaction and then talk about them in your marketing. Let your potential clients see themselves in that ah-ha moment. 

People have to believe that change is possible. They have to understand that the way they’ve been doing things doesn’t have to be the way they keep doing things. They  have to see that your coaching is the thing that will help them to turn it all around. Then and only then will they trust themself enough to make the leap. 

Wrapping Up

If you’ve struggled to feel legitimate as a coach or are thinking a certification is what will make you a “credible” coach, I am sorry to burst your bubble. I just don’t believe it’s true. I think you already have it in you to be a great coach. 

No amount of coaching certifications are going to replace the experience of working with clients or leaning on your own experiences. I would encourage you instead to build your skills as a coach, create systems that serve you, and find a group of financial coaches who can help you trust that you already have the skills you need to become a coach. 

If you’re looking for just such a group, I have one. Please join our free facebook group, Financial Coaches Unite. It’s a place where you can learn from thousands of other financial coaches, ask questions, get free financial coach training, and gain the confidence you need to trust in yourself, your process and your clients ability to do great things. That’s worth WAY more than any financial coaching certification out there.