Gail McMeekin, a career and creativity coach based in Boston and author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Successful Women, says she refers clients to certified financial planners for specific money issues, such as long-term planning or insurance needs, but when it comes to big-picture finances, coaches come with advantages. "I help people look at their whole life. What's stressing them, what's making them happy, what do they really want to be happy, what's realistic, what does their potential business pay and how does that fit with their lifestyle," she says.
McMeekin, who has a masters in social work and has trained as a coach through The Coaches Training Institute, adds that many of her clients, who tend to work in creative fields, can be turned off by the number-crunching approach of financial planners. "Sometimes certified financial planners can be very conservative and scare the daylights out of people, especially people in transition who are letting go of a 401(k) or starting a business for themselves," she says, adding that her clients are often better off taking risks, as long as they are calculated ones.
"What I do is broader than financial planning," explains Bruce Poster, a retirement coach based in Santa Fe. "We look at a whole range of lifestyle issues. Finance is one of them, but so is health, leisure, and how you establish meaning in life," he adds. Poster, a certified retirement coach and former consultant, uses worksheets and prompts to help clients develop their vision and goals for retirement and then create a plan to achieve them. His coaching packages for couples start at $595.
Since coaches vary so much in their expertise, training, and experience, finding the right one can be a challenge. Hassler recommends asking friends for recommendations, using the website mycoachmatch.com, and browsing the blogs of coaches. Says Hassler, "You want a coach who's walking a similar path but is a little bit ahead of you."
Corrected on 10/5/2011: A previous version of this story used the incorrect pronoun to refer to Tea Austin.