A Money Coach in Canada

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Periodically people ask me why I state so definitively “I’m a money coach, not a financial planner”! (see blog header)

The topic came up again as I was walking with Jan and David after WordCamp yesterday.

Here’s why.

1. Statement of fact. I’m not a financial planner. I haven’t got any financial advising/planning credentials. I don’t give advice. I don’t even really create plans. I don’t suggest stocks or mutual funds. What I do, is equip people on the basics that so easily escape us – budgets. getting out of debt. setting up savings plans. defining and prioritizing financial goals. befriending money. setting up effective banking structures.

2. In my experience a lot of Canadians have felt disappointed by the financial planning industry. There are some awesome financial advisors – I’ve met lots and respect them – but so many times people have expected something that they didn’t end up getting, and remain upset, distrustful and even bitter. I want those readers to understand right away that money coaching is a different thing altogether. fyi, Here are some of the reasons people have become jaded about the financial planning industry:

False expectation: We think they’ll help manage our money in a granular way. Sometimes financial planners perpetuate this myth by doing a one-off review of your debt and cash flow…. but does it happen ever again? Or even quarterly? Not usually. Financial planners are here to help with our investments, with insurance, tax planning and legacies. They don’t help, not in an ongoing, meaningful way, with overspending, relationship with money, conflict about money between couples, getting out of debt.

False expectation: They will regularly keep in touch with our investments and constantly be watching out for them. Most financial planners have well over a hundred, often hundreds, of clients. They simply don’t have the time to review our individual personal portfolios on a monthly or even weekly basis.

False expectation: We will receive completely unbiased advice. Not so. Most financial planners operate under some sort of umbrella, and have a particular set of products (usually, mutual funds) that they can offer.

and the biggest False expectation of all: A globalized hope that they will look after our finances. We often feel intimidated and anxious about our money, and in our heart-of-hearts wish we could abdicate our control of the whole thing and pass it off to someone else. When we discover that our portfolio has diminished in value, when we receive financial statements that don’t make things clear (ggrrrrrrr!), when it dawns on us that we’ve simply bought a product, not someone who is carefully nurturing out nest eggs — we understandably get disillusioned.

Here’s what I offer as a money coach.

1. I create a safe space in which to review the basics of being savvy with money (spending/saving etc.)

2. I offer the tools, tricks and tips that have worked for me, and plenty of clients, in taking control of cash flow.

3. Perhaps most importantly of all, I simply have the conversation. Many clients already know what is required to take back control. Having someone with whom to talk it over, sometimes ‘hold hands’, and be accountable (very gently) to, is often the best value I provide.

btw, Regarding the investment etc. angle, I encourage clients to inform themselves. To attend lectures, seminars and increasingly, read blogs of the diy’s –








These may be a challenge for a while, but over time, strategies will become clear, a financial lexicon will expand, and best of all, clients will start to feel empowered.  Then, they can have a relationship with their planner based on realistic expectations and more informed conversation.

Any questions? Fire away….

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. We need to have a few glasses of wine with this conversation. My budget-planning skills are good. My tastes in places for dining out are not 🙂 Too expensive!


    May 01, 2008
  2. @Raul Ah, the difference between planning/budgeting and how one actually spends the money.

    Reminds me of the Danish taunt (for snowball fights etc.): “Sigter godt, men rammer skidt” = good aiming skills, poor hitting skills. 🙂


    May 01, 2008
  3. Thanks for the kind referral.

    Interesting post – so I guess it’s almost like you are a “teacher” rather than an advisor?


    p.s. – you should consider having the comment email feature – we use a plugin called “subscribe to comments” – it’s great for following comments on a particular post.


    May 02, 2008
  4. Thanks for the mention Nancy. I suppose what you do is actually more important than offering investing advice. It’s saving money that is more important and a lot of people seem to have trouble with.


    May 02, 2008
  5. A little further down the street, Pete Quily mentioned to me another reason for emphasizing the distinction between what you do and what all ‘Financial Planners’ do, and I hope he won’t mind if I quote him here (because I think it was particularly pithy): “Distinctiveness is next to Godliness on the Internet.” What he meant by that was it’s a very good thing to stake out a particular niche, and avoid broad categories where ‘anyone’ (or a large swath of competition) can meet a need. In his case, he continued, “There are tons of ‘Life Coaches’ out there, but there’s only one in the Vancouver area dealing with the particular challenges of Adult ADD.”
    In your case, besides clarifying what you do, your positioning sets you apart from the multitudes of Financial Planners out there all doing more or less the same thing. By avoiding the label (and expectation) of financial planner, you get to also enjoy that marketing advantage that so many show in their commercials: “Not just a xxx, but a yyy yyyy!”


    May 02, 2008
  6. moneygardener

    thanks for the link!


    May 02, 2008
  7. Angela

    Perhaps the term “financial planner” is wrong then?

    I actually like the term “investment advisor” better…. these people aren’t supposed to “plan” your finance.

    I think the other false expectation is that a planner would do his magic to make the money grow in an unrealistic rate. At the end of the day, it’s not about how much you earn from the investment; it’s about how much you’ve put into this investment at the first place. Saving is a big mystery for a lot of people, which is sad.


    May 02, 2008
  8. I don’t mind at all David
    “Niching is next to Godliness on the internet” is what I said, but your explanation of the idea is correct, and something that people in service businesses should really do more often.

    Sometimes people want to cast too wide of a net to try and catch everyone but that doesn’t work well in service businesses, better to be very specific who your market is what you do and don’t do.

    That way even if you talk to someone that’s not your target customer,they probably won’t hire you, but might mention your name to someone they know that might be interested in your services. If you pretend you’re doing something you’re not, just to get more visitors to your website, they won’t pass your name around. Or if they do, they’ll do it in a way you won’t like:)


    May 02, 2008
  9. Thanks for the mention. There’s always a time and place for financial planners as well as money coaches. But products come and go but building a good mind-set lasts a life-time and that’s what a good coach does. Have a great weekend!


    May 03, 2008
  10. tx for dropping by, everyone!
    @angela – yup, I think the term “investment advisor” conveys much more clearly what they actually do.
    @FourPillars – tx for the heads up about e-mail comments. I need to get under the hood of wordpress again soon.
    @DavidDrucker and @JanKarlsbjerg and @PeteQuily Since the time of writing this, I’m reconsidering framing it in the negative. I wonder if there’s a way to make really, really clear what I do, without defining it by what others don’t do.
    @thickenmywallet and @Canadiancapitalist Agreed there’s a need for both, and that typically the mindset and money 101 skills are needed as a base. Phase 2 is developing the investing savvy. Having said that, I personally moved warp speed ahead in 101 skills when I discovered how fun it was to save up and invest. So, who knows….


    May 05, 2008


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