Coaches need coaching too
On June 6 and 7, thanks to support from Citi Community Development, our United Way hosted nationally-renowned financial coaching expert Saundra Davis of Sage Financial Solutions for a regional training event.

Success Story Written by: Amy Williamson, Financial Stability Program Officer

After we’ve flown a certain number of times in our lives, we tend to tune out the emergency instructions given by the flight attendants. Yes, yes, we think subconsciously – I already know that I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I try to assist others.

But how many of us apply this advice in our own lives on the ground? This is an especially important issue for people working in helping professions. How can we help others tackle challenges and pursue their goals and dreams if we’re not fully doing that for ourselves?

On June 6 and 7, thanks to support from Citi Community Development, our United Way hosted nationally-renowned financial coaching expert Saundra Davis of Sage Financial Solutions for a regional training event. Saundra helped more than 50 nonprofit and public agency staff and other community leaders who work with financially-struggling people to come to terms with this question. The emphasis of the highly-interactive training was on helping attendees get a grasp on their own financial habits and attitudes as a starting place for helping others with the same.

“Financial coaching is empowering for both the coach and the clients,” Saundra said. “Having confidence in our financial content and expertise is the first step in knowing how to meet clients where they are and provide the right support for their unique situation.”

While much of the training focused on the attendees, effectively putting them in the position of being their own coaches with Saundra’s support and guidance, there was also time for role-playing and skill development in pairs, as well as review and discussion of substantial financial content that attendees can use with their clients. Participants ranged from coaching veterans to relative newcomers.

“It was a pleasure being at the training; I found it to be very energetic and educational,” said attendee Oscar Velasco of the Health Education Council. “It is powerful to understand how to be an effective financial coach, given the populations that we work with.”

“Personally, it has given me a chance to see finances differently, and I am ready to help others understand their options/resources to improve their well-being (both financially and health-wise) since at times it can be very stressful and hard to do so,” Oscar said. “I also appreciate the resources and group roster, this will definitely help us, as in the case of not being an expert we can now know who to refer to.”

Many of the attendees noted that a key take-away from the training was the realization that while counselors tend to prescribe plans for people, coaches listen actively and provide support and resources for people as they design and implement their own plans.

The two-day event was the kick-off of a more comprehensive financial coaching initiative sponsored by Citi Community Development and JPMorgan Chase. It will include:

  • a full-day, in-person financial coaching practical-application session with Saundra Davis later this summer;
  • training participants who complete the full three days will be able to follow-up by participating in 10 monthly web-based skills-building labs with Saundra over the following year;
  • a limited number of organizations with staff participating in the training will be able to receive funding for financial coaching integration work later this year; and
  • scholarships for a very limited number of individuals to complete the financial counseling/coaching certification program of the AFCPE. Saundra will work with us to mentor the individuals chosen for these spots.

Our United Way has been supporting financial coaching for three years with grants to seven regional nonprofit organizations. This initiative will greatly expand the scope and scale of this regional network this year and beyond, allowing us to help many more households achieve financial stability.

We are committed to building collaboration among the many participating organizations and agencies, as well as to integrating financial coaching with our work in education and health.