Connecting retirement coaching with your investment process

4 min read 11 Jun 21

In this final part of our mini-series looking at retirement coaching, Martin Crawley-Boevey and Michael Usher from adviser firm, PK Group, explain the intrinsic links between coaching techniques and their planning and investment processes.

PK Group’s Director, Martin Crawley-Boevey, on coaching and the advice process 


PK Group’s Director, Martin Crawley-Boevey, on coaching and the advice process

We have a six stage advice process, starting from the initial meeting right through to ongoing reviews, and coaching typically comes in during the high level conversations. But just because coaching tends to happen at this higher level and also focuses more on advisers’ softer skills, doesn’t mean it’s a less important part of the retirement planning and investment processes. Quite the opposite in fact: retirement coaching weaves through our entire process here at PK Group and is heavily linked with our cashflow modelling, portfolio optimisation and more.

Not a tick box exercise

We don’t view coaching as a structured or specific part of the process. In practical terms, it might mean knowing the right type of questions that will encourage clients to reveal their aspirations and also how to really listen to their wants and needs. One thing it definitely doesn’t mean is that you should be using a rigid tick box approach with clients because if they can see you doing this, they’re unlikely to relax and really open up about their retirement.

This is more true than ever because the shape of retirement has changed so much – it’s no longer this ‘cliff edge’ moment where your life switches overnight from working to not working at all. We’re seeing more people who want to have an intellectual challenge in retirement or perhaps take up a different type of work or learn new skills. It has become a much more individual experience and, naturally, this means there might be a lot more to discuss with the client. 

Often you do have to work quite hard to get to the heart of what people want out of retirement and it takes experience and insight on the adviser’s part to help them get there. Although, ultimately, every client is different. 

Fortunately for most of us, these softer coaching skills are already part of an adviser’s skill set and something that’s almost part of your personality, although from time to time if someone in your firm is moving from a more technical role they may need some training to help develop these important soft skills.


Michael Usher, Head of PK Wealth, Where retirement coaching and investment meet 

In some ways it can be hard to unpick retirement coaching from other aspects of our planning and investment processes because they are very heavily linked. After all, we are managing money towards a client’s future objectives and so we have to have an investment process that fully supports these objectives. For this reason, we don’t think there is any point in having a relative return investment process. 

Our cashflow planning acts as a jumping off point for some of the softer discussions and coaching techniques that are so important in finding out what clients really want from their retirement plan. 

We also carry out annual exercises in portfolio optimisation which we monitor against reality, to set clients expectations but also to see if they want to adjust this when they go into retirement. Again this sparks a wider conversation between ourselves and the client and it’s another place where coaching techniques can naturally come in. 

So on the one hand our investment process feeds coaching discussions but the results of these conversations will also feed back into our investment decisions on behalf of the client too. And it’s these close links which help us ensure client suitability is at the heart of our investment process, which feels more important than ever given the FCA’s focus on suitability. 

Catch up on the first two parts of the series:

In focus: coaching for retirement clients

We introduced whether the idea of ‘coaching’ retirement clients – still a fairly new concept for advisers in the UK – stretches the boundaries of traditional financial advice? Or is it a natural extension of the broader trend towards holistic financial planning and the growing retirement income market?

In Focus: Retirement Coaching

Where we spoke to advisers Mike Carpenter and Steve Rees from Manchester-based firm Carpenter Rees, about their direct experience of putting some retirement coaching theories into practice, to help clients prepare for the emotional side of life after work.