Posted by: nmarsh November 7th, 2017

Why would I pay for Advice? I can get everything I need off the Internet!

Those that know me, will know that I am a “keen” endurance athlete.  I say keen, because, although I have put a lot of time and effort into completing several crazy long-distance events, including Marathon Des Sables and three Ironman Triathlons - I have never taken it too seriously and have always mostly winged my preparation. 

I realise now that the fact that I completed any of them and didn’t seriously injure myself along the way, was probably more down to luck, rather than good judgement.  I bring this up, only because, I have noticed similarities between my approach to endurance racing and a significant number of prospective clients that come into our offices. 

In many cases, just like me, our potential clients, struggle to see the value of advice, when so much information can be accessed at the click of a mouse.  Being self-coached, as with making your own financial decisions, can be rewarding but does have its risks.

This year for the first time I have engaged a coach to help, with my preparation and have immediately started to notice a difference in my approach and performance.  So why is that?

Do I have the time?

Let’s face it - we’re all busy.  Researching and implementing a strategy for retirement savings that meets your long term financial goals, is challenging, potentially interesting but mostly, time consuming.  Using your valuable time to do this, gives you less time to do the fun things in life - taking the kids to the park, reading that book that’s been on the shelf for months, or catching-up with friends you haven’t seen for a while.

In addition to freeing-up some time, I have found that by engaging a coach, who deals with creating the training plan and provides advice on how best to implement each session, I am left to solely focus on what matters – my mindset and performance during each piece of training. 

But, which way is the right way?

It is truly amazing how much information we have at our fingertips – how did people even function without Google! 

Of course, the flip side of this is that with such a vast amount of information, deciphering it and determining, which of the conflicting approaches is correct, is almost impossible, without professional help. 

This is as true in the world of exercise and nutrition, as it is finance, where advice on how to perform better or lose that extra pound seems to constantly change.

The one thing that is clear, is that none of what you read on the internet has been written, with you in mind.  Only by engaging with someone who is going to take the time to understand, where you have been and where you want to get to, can you feel comfortable that the information provided is targeted to your specific aspirations and goals.

Goal Setting by Yourself

When starting on a training plan, I always had a sense of what I’d like to achieve but because I didn’t have access to a second opinion, I never tested myself and in most cases the plan I followed wasn’t ever going to help me accomplish everything I was capable of.

A trusted advisor or coach won’t define your goals, only you can do that – they will however have a good sense of what is achievable and make sure that you put the right plan in place, to give you the best possible chance of meeting them. Whether that is saving for that dream car, or smashing your Park Run personal best.

Monitor, Review and Adjust

Have you ever worked on a project that has gone perfectly -  exactly as you had originally planned?  No? Me neither!  Life always has these funny ways of surprising us, the key of course is how we react and adjust for these unexpected events. 

In the past, I have tended to work from plans, out of books, or downloaded off the internet.  In addition to not working for my exact goals they also didn’t morph Harry Potter style, every time, I was unable to train, due to an injury or a family situation.  

Not having the knowledge, or experience on how to adapt, I tended to overact to the situation by adding to the next weeks training, to catch-up.   Inexperienced investors often follow a similar approach when facing short term market downturns, selling their investments at the lows and then reinvesting them only after the market returns to health.  Doubling up on training and Selling Low, Buying High – both have the potential to cause injury!

Getting the Most out of your Coach/Adviser

As with any relationship, it is essential that you fully trust the advice that you are being given.  Trust doesn’t happen overnight but it is recommended that you at least like the person before starting to pay for their services!

You will also have some work to do. I have needed to provide detail on my past training experience as well as the niggles I tend to get.  I have defined my short and long-term goals and provide succinct and relevant feedback on each session. I realise, as I hope my clients do that by being an active participant in the process, I am enabling my coach to design the best plan for me and adapt it as we go along.

Only time and results will confirm that it has been worth it but already I feel more comfortable knowing that I am working with someone with the knowledge and experience, to help me make the best of my limited athletic abilities.