A few years ago, I unintentionally mentored two people. I made a conscious effort to mentor a third after that. I found it an extremely rewarding experience. But looking back, I think I might have confused coaching with mentoring.
Professional coaches and mentors distinguish between the two as follows: coaching involves a shorter-term strengthening of an individual’s specific skill or knowledge gap, while mentoring is a longer-term process, helping the individual to see the destination but not mapping out how to get there.
From my discussions with various established and up and coming financial planners and paraplanners, it strikes me that young professionals are looking for a mix of the two.
Many need coaching to help understand how to apply and expand their existing knowledge set in the workplace. But in order to develop the next generation of planners – to pass on the mantle to talented professionals ready to potentially take over established businesses in the future – the existing business owners should think seriously about mentoring their staff.
But which staff should be mentored and which should be coached? That decision is down to the individual make up of the firm and what the planner’s long-term objectives are.
Before embarking on such an exercise, I would recommend researching how to go about it. A good place to start is with the Manager Tools podcasts, then
set out your structure and expectations so that those receiving the mentoring know exactly how it will work.
This should help prevent any confusion between coaching and mentoring, and cut down the time those running their own businesses would spend on mentoring (as I believe coaching takes up more time).
My personal experience of being mentored by two financial planners, combined with self- development and public speaking workshops like those offered by Dale Carnegie, has helped improve the way I create presentations and communicate with people. It has also changed the way I look at the challenges in life and in which I ask for help.
I can heartily recommend being mentored. It has certainly had a positive impact on most aspects of my life.
As for being a mentor, that is very rewarding as well. Being able to help and see a person develop and craft their own way in the world is quite a privilege.
There is certainly a will within our profession to attract new financial planners and paraplanners. Running a successful financial planning firm is an extremely time-consuming undertaking, and many managers may feel that they cannot afford the time right now.
However, putting it off will be to the long-term detriment of their firms and, perhaps more importantly, the financial planning profession as a whole.
Jacqueline Lockie is deputy head of financial planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment