What's The Difference?

Do I need a Financial Coach or a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®) or both?     

What's the difference?

Often, investors come to me thinking they need a financial plan, when what they really need is financial coaching. What’s the difference?

Financial coaching focuses on creating accountability and a knowledge base in the following areas: budgeting, debt elimination, creating emergency savings, investing, insurance planning, charitable giving strategies and financial goal planning.

Financial planning  focuses on longer-term strategies for income protection, employee benefits, investment, income tax, retirement, estate and legacy planning.

Financial coaching helps you develop sound money management habits to help strengthen your financial health. Once you’ve met the goals you set, we evaluate your financial health and progress you to financial planning. 

Financial coaching and financial planning work together to address three fundamental needs that most savers and investors have: 

1. Help me be smart with my money. 

  • Budgeting
  • Saving
  • Debt management
  • Retirement income planning 
  • Income management strategies
  • Tax-efficient investing 
  • Charitable giving and legacy planning

2. Help me with more than my money.

  • Financial education/literacy
  • Goal planning and prioritization
  • Social Security planning
  • Projecting healthcare costs in retirement
  • Long-term care solutions

3. Show me my progress. 

  • Regular check-ins to track progress against goals
  • Risk analysis
  • Quarterly financial reports/statements

Meet Mary and Paul*

To understand how financial coaching and financial planning differ—and how they complement each other—meet Mary and Paul, a hypothetical couple in their mid-forties with a teenage son who were seeking a way to climb out from under burdensome debt and stop the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.

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Who you work with matters

Did you know that anyone can call themselves a financial coach? That’s right. No specific experience, credentials, designations or certifications are required to provide financial coaching services. That makes it critical to understand who you’ll be working with and their qualifications before hiring a financial coach. In other words, if you wouldn’t allow a surgeon without a medical license or experience to replace your knee, you probably don’t want a financial coach with no background in money management or investment principles providing critical financial advice and guidance. 

As a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) professional and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designee, it is my passion to educate and empower you to make smart decisions with your money. The fiduciary standard of care (link to ABOUT/The Fiduciary Difference) requires that a financial advisor act solely in the client’s best interest when providing financial advice. For more than 20 years, I’ve coached and educated investors and retirement plan participants of all ages and backgrounds, helping them develop the kind of sound money management skills that can help reduce financial stress and lead to long-term financial well-being.

My goal, as a Financial Coach and CFP®, is to help you gain the knowledge and confidence to make financial decisions aligned with your goals, across all aspects of your finances. That’s how you move beyond coaching and towards achieving the financial independence and well-being you desire. If you would like to learn more, or are ready to start, I look forward to hearing from you!

*This is a hypothetical example provided for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as financial or investment advice. The names do not represent actual clients. 

Katie Williams is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional and has completed the Dave Ramsey Financial Coach Master Training. Dave Ramsey does not endorse Katie Williams or any person who has completed his coaching program.

Dave Ramsey is not affiliated with Classic Financial Services or LPL Financial.