The rise of the ‘money coach’

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - YOUR MONEY -

These self-styled fi­nan­cial gu­rus claim to trans­form peo­ple’s lives by chang­ing their at­ti­tude to money. Laura Suter in­ves­ti­gates

First came per­sonal train­ers, then life coaches. But the new musthave guru is a fi­nan­cial or money coach. These new ex­perts – who, un­like tra­di­tional fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers, re­main un­reg­u­lated and do not sit ex­ams – seek to over­come the taboos around money that cause many Bri­tons to hide their debt prob­lems or fi­nan­cial fears from friends and fam­ily.

Si­monne Gnessen set up Wise Mon­key Fi­nan­cial Coach­ing in 2002 af­ter a ca­reer as a fi­nan­cial ad­viser. She went on to train as a pro­fes­sional coach, a mas­ter neuro-lin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming prac­ti­tioner and a fi­nan­cial life plan­ner.

She claimed that, as well as help­ing peo­ple who had built up debt, she had helped clients get on the next rung of the ca­reer lad­der, save more money, work out what set­tle­ment they needed in a di­vorce or un­der­stand their fi­nances af­ter they were wid­owed.

“Money is such an emo­tive sub­ject – it is shrouded in se­crecy, peo­ple don’t talk about their spend­ing, earn­ings, sav­ings, in­vest­ing and debt,” she said.

What does the process in­volve?

Be­fore they start, Ms Gnessen asks clients to iden­tify the ar­eas they want to work on, their long-term goals, how they learnt about money grow­ing up and their fears around money. They also have to give her de­tails of what they spend, save and earn so that she has a “snap­shot of where they are fi­nan­cially right now”.

Then, in the first meet­ing, she will work with in­di­vid­u­als to put to­gether a plan and ways to stick to it.

“At the end of each ses­sion they al­ways walk out with an ac­tion plan. My job is to mo­ti­vate and in­spire them to move them to­wards what they want to achieve,” she said. They would also work to­gether on “teas­ing out the emo­tions and then do­ing some deeper work around shift­ing their mind­set around money”.

Ms Gnessen added that some clients had de­scribed the process as “ther­a­peu­tic”. She said her ad­vice could in­volve just one, two or three ses­sions but “if we’re do­ing deep be­havioural change it might be more like a year, with maybe eight ses­sions over that time”. She charges £120 an hour, or £130 for cou­ples.

‘Money coach­ing helped me to buy a Lon­don home and set up my own com­pany’

Kate For­rest, 42, de­cided to get a money coach two years ago be­cause, de­spite her high earn­ings, she was spend­ing most of her money and work­ing long hours. Within two years she said she had bought a prop­erty in Lon­don, quit her job and started her own busi­ness; she now plans to work part of the year in her na­tive Aus­tralia.

“I had very am­bi­tious goals but couldn’t get the fo­cus to cre­ate space or at­ten­tion to get them mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” she said.

De­spite be­ing the daugh­ter of a bank man­ager, Ms For­rest said that with­out a money coach she would never have sat down and or­gan­ised her fi­nances or found the con­fi­dence to start her own busi­ness.

She con­sulted Ms Gnessen, who made her look at all her spend­ing in the past year and work out what she was spend­ing her money on. The coach then helped her set goals, cal­cu­late how much money she would need to fund her life­style if she be­came self-em­ployed and work out how much she could save to buy a prop­erty.

Seven months af­ter her first money coach ses­sion Ms For­rest bought her Lon­don home. Nine months af­ter that, she quit her job to set up her own busi­ness. While she ad­mit­ted that some of the work could have been done alone, she said she didn’t think she would ac­tu­ally have done it. “The prob­lem was that my habits were so in­grained, and I was so busy with ev­ery­thing else, I just wasn’t giv­ing it the at­ten­tion it needed,” she said.

“It’s a bit like when you em­bark on a health regime, you join a gym or hire a per­sonal trainer – you are dis­rupt­ing your cur­rent pat­tern of be­hav­iour and hav­ing a truth­ful mir­ror to face. It’s taking that first step to speak to some­one, and to say out loud what is driv­ing your be­hav­iours and habits.” For the past two years, she has met Ms Gnessen ev­ery two months on av­er­age, spend­ing around £2,400 in to­tal.

‘I raised my charges by 1,000pc’

Sarah Ar­row, who runs an on­line mar­ket­ing busi­ness, said she had tre­bled her in­come af­ter seek­ing fi­nan­cial coach­ing.

She said her money coach­ing was more “spir­i­tual” and fo­cused on how her back­ground had con­trib­uted to her cur­rent money sit­u­a­tion. “Ini­tially I was scep­ti­cal, but the coach­ing helps you to re­lax and you have to heal your money story,” she said.

Ms Ar­row found the web­site of fi­nan­cial coach Sarupa Shah and con­tacted her for help in grow­ing her in­come from the £21,000 a year she was mak­ing at the time from her own busi­ness. Ms Shah, who pre­vi­ously worked in so­cial care and for a large con­sul­tancy firm, taught her­self fi­nan­cial coach­ing skills. She said she

had “al­ways been a healer”.

She uses med­i­ta­tion, vi­su­al­i­sa­tion and re­peat­ing af­fir­ma­tions as part of her tac­tics to get clients to “change their money story”.

Ms Ar­row said that, while she “doesn’t be­lieve in all this ‘woo woo’ stuff ”, she found money coach­ing gave her the con­fi­dence to raise her prices. She ini­tially tre­bled them and has now raised them by 11 times.

“My first port of call for help grow­ing my busi­ness was my ac­coun­tant, but it was like he was talk­ing an­other lan­guage. I wanted some­body to help me set my prices, but all I got back was a load of fi­nan­cial speak,” she added.

Over the past six years, Ms Ar­row es­ti­mated that she had spent about £10,000 on fi­nan­cial coach­ing, in­clud­ing a re­treat in Tener­ife that she took her fam­ily on.

“But in terms of what I’ve got back, it is huge amounts,” she said.

Fit fi­nances: coaches like Sarupa Shah, left, can help you fund your life­style and keep you on track

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