Financial Coaching

Financial coaching is an intervention using a coach-client model of regular, one-on-one sessions to set and manage financial goals and design concrete plans of action. It has emerged in recent years as a potential complement to financial counseling and education as a way to improve personal financial outcomes.

Like counseling (and unlike financial education classes), coaching focuses on a one-on-one relationship, but unlike counseling it is more client-driven. The coach works with a client to set goals and take concrete steps to meet those goals, rather than prescribing a set of tasks designed to respond to a particular issue.

The Urban Institute has been at the fore of research into coaching, helping to inform policymakers, researchers, and practitioners in the field.

Financial Coaching Evaluation

In October 2015, The Urban Institute released An Evaluation of the Impacts and Implementation Approaches of Financial Coaching Programs. This study, funded by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, presents findings from a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) of two financial coaching programs that serve low-and moderate-income populations: Branches in Miami, Florida, and The Financial Clinic in New York City. It reports on program implementation, service uptake, and program impacts. Study findings suggest that a well-implemented coaching program with engaged clients can produce important improvements in certain financial outcomes.

We presented findings from this research project in a number of formats, including:

  • Blog posts discussing coaching in general and the study in particular: the first post introduces financial coaching as a new method for improving financial well-being, and the second post provides an overview of the report and discusses findings.
  • A brief reporting on lessons learned from a roundtable discussion Urban hosted with the CFPB in 2013. In that convening, participants shared insights into the successes and challenges associated with rigorous evaluations of financial capability interventions.
  • A webinar  coinciding with the report release, with the help of representatives of the CFPB, Annie E. Casey, Branches, and The Financial Clinic.  

CFPB Financial Coaching Initiative

The Urban Institute is also examining coaching efforts underway as a part of the CFPB’s Financial Coaching Initiative, launched in April 2015 (CFPB press release here). This initiative is designed to integrate coaching into service delivery for transitioning veterans and economically vulnerable consumers nationwide.

The Urban Institute study will examine coaching efforts across the coaching sites, with a more expansive study of sites serving economically vulnerable clients. This includes documenting how the new coaching services were implemented, who was served, what services were provided, and whether expected outcomes were achieved.