FOR ALL YOU FINANCIAL COACHES OUT THERE: WHY NO-ONE (INCLUDING YOU) REALLY WANTS ACCOUNTABILITY

accountability Aug 28, 2017

Hey there, my progressive financial coaches out there.

Love your work. Keep doing it and finding ways to make it more efficient, more automated and more cost effective.

We need you to change the way people feel about the ‘b’ word.

Quick question though.

It’s about that “accountability check-in” you’re planning to have in your offer.

(Let me preface this by stating that it’s just an opinion. Feel free to disagree. Everyone has a different view. If you’ve already overcome this trap, feel free to share your awesomeness)

I have a few questions about how it’s all supposed to work, one coach to another.

  • If you discover your client is regularly pulling $500 out of an ATM every Friday night at a entertainment joint called “Dancers”, how will you raise it with them as a reason their savings pool isn’t growing? Is it best done when both partners are in the room? One to one? Maybe in a crowded restaurant where they can’t get that defensive?
  • How about the referral to Alcoholics Anonymous when their bank statements reveal they spend hundreds of dollars a week on alcohol? They’ll thank you for the observation, right?
  • How deep into their lives should you allow yourself to go? If they’re feeling down, is it ok to give you a call in the middle of the night? What about if they feel a little deeper in despair than that? Where does your line get drawn?
  • How about when you’ve had this conversation for the seventh time?

“Did you hit your savings goal last month” “No, we didn’t” “Do you know why?” “Yeh. We do” “Are you going to do it differently this month” “Absolutely” “Great. Speak to you next month” 

The Accountability Trap

Everyone says they want accountability.

Most actually don’t.

I’ve had clients say to me , “Stu, I really need you to keep me accountable

So, I do.

I message them on a Monday asking them to tell me their plan for the week, again on a Wednesday to check in and finally on a Friday, to check what’s been done.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes it works for a bit.

Most of them stop responding as soon as they know they’re not keeping up their side of the bargain.

Accountability through the rear vision mirror sucks. It’s a bit like the anti-version of Pavlov’s Dog. It creates a negative feedback loop.

You reach out with the best of intention.

However, you remind them of everything they haven’t done.

They feel bad. Guilty. Like they’ve failed.

You subconsciously get associated with bad feeling.

The cycle repeats.

I’ve had clients avoid coaching calls with me, specifically because they felt they hadn’t done their “homework”.

It’s not useful. It’s counter-productive.

Especially when sometimes the best solution is for us to check in, get some of the work done together and build up some much-needed momentum.

Past vs Future Accountability

The issue with past-focussed accountability (other than the prospect of those uncomfortable conversations) is it ends up becoming a parent-child thing.

Frankly, if you’re happy being managed like a child with your money, there’s a place caller MyBudget that will the job just fine.

It doesn’t work for me though. So, I’ve been taught to play the accountability game as a future-focused thing.

I’d advise you to do the same, whether you’re offering financial coaching, business advisory, wealth management, or simply delivering a traditional Review.

It’s a three step process.

Step 1

“So, tell me about the progress you’ve made since we last spoke. What have been the Wins?”

Why? Because it gets you started by focusing on the good things, and builds up forward momentum before we start talking about the other stuff.

It’s also super important for all those Type A, high cortisol, driven types who may be equipped to get to their result, but without a little help won’t arrive equipped to enjoy the destination.

Step 2

Then it’s about the present.

“What do you need help with right now?”

We’re going to assume we’re dealing with adults, who understand financial freedom isn’t something that’s done for or to them, but rather a partnership between the right information and putting that information into action.

We’re going to rely on them to let us know what they need, aided by some expert probing to make sure they really know what’s going on.

Step 3

Finally, we’re going to move into total future focused mode.

“What are you going to do next?”

And that’s where we move into a space that they are future focussed, clear and ready to take steps.

We get a commitment to self-defined action, moving forward with momentum,

Doesn’t that sound like a bunch more fun?

Now go continue the awesome.

For more strategies and helpful tips visit our Blog.

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