“A teary Gao Ning, Singapore’s top male table-tennis player, crashed out of his first Olympics in just 24 minutes yesterday, losing 0-4 to unheralded Tan Ruiwu of Croatia. What raised hushed whispers at the Peking University Gymnasium, however, was not the manner of his defeat, but the surprising absence of a coach on court-side to advise and cheer the Singapore paddler on. While the presence of a coach is not mandated by the rule book, he or she can often play an instrumental role by recommending tactical changes or simply by encouraging the player” – Straits Times 22 August 2008.
It did not occur to me how important a coach can be to a sportsperson during a competition until this was highlighted in this unfortunate event. However, it did occur to me the importance of having life coaches. Life coaches play an important role to everybody’s every day life. They are able to offer tactical changes, advice or simply offer encouragement to the person concerned. Examples of life coaches are:
- Spiritual mentor – examples - “godmother” of a baptized catholic, cell-group leader, pastor, etc
- Career counselors
It is obvious that more than one life coach is required since none of them can claim to be expert in all areas. Life is too complex you see.
The role of a financial planner is a life coach. The planner’s expertise is one of financial matters. A financial planner can offer the following:
- Provide a 3rd party opinion of a person financial well being
- Identify short falls which a person cannot see due to “blind-spots”
- Remind the person to stick with his original plan (if there was one in the first place) through regular review
- To provide some advice on drastic change in a person life.
With regard to the last point, every often people seek a financial adviser’s help when there is already some problem with their life. Usually this will be death of a loved one, disability, bankruptcy, divorce and significant losses of investment not foresee. Financial planning works best in preventive mode. It has been said that “prevention is better than cure.” Once problems arise, there is usually nothing much a financial planner can do other than giving the client a listening ear. That is why a financial planner cannot cure existing problems.
I know most people do not have a life coach for financial planning. Frequently I’ll receive email from people through my website asking for insurance quotations or asking for investment specific advice. If they had a life coach, they will seek their help – rather than emailing to me who is a stranger to them. But such emails are also an indication that they have no intention to appoint me as their financial planner. The reason is that asking for individual quotations are just merely looking for products. There are many salesmen in the market that can provide that. Frankly, I am not keen in being a salesman and will usually just ask my colleagues to response to such product-centric emails. I will, however, been keen if I am asked to work on cases as a financial adviser rather than as a product salesman.
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