Helping people improve their financial literacy and understand the best ways to use their money is a powerful way to help improve people’s lives. Often, the people who most need this kind of advice are those who are least able to afford financial planning services, or who are in demographics that may be ignored by traditional financial planners. Today’s guest is a money coach who feels called to use his considerable skill and knowledge to help others.

Trevor Van Nest is a Certified Financial Planner and professional money coach who founded Niagara Region Money Coaches. Trevor has been the recipient of several awards for his unique education-based approach to financial planning, including Professional Services Business of the Year in Newmarket. Trevor was also a Finalist for Outstanding New Business of the Year for the Greater Niagara Region in 2015. Before becoming a money coach, Trevor spent 20 years at American Express – 8 of those years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition to his work and family life, Trevor is an active member of his Rotary Club in St. Catharines and has been involved in board work for several philanthropic organizations.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • What Trevor’s firm does and who they serve
  • Why Trevor doesn’t have a target market
  • What made Trevor get into the financial planning field
  • How Trevor structured his business in order to provide value to clients who may not have much money (while still making a profit)
  • How Trevor initially got discovered by clients
  • What the first few meetings look like for Trevor’s clients
  • What happens after clients sign a letter of engagement
  • How Trevor prices his services
  • How Trevor stays organized
  • How Trevor sees the financial planning industry evolving
  • The most exciting thing in Trevor’s business right now
  • Trevor’s advice for listeners

Links and Resources:

Niagara Region Money Coaches

Quotes from Trevor:

“I feel better now than I ever have about not having a target market. I think I’m a better money coach because I don’t have a segment that I focus on.”

“I’m assessing people all the way through from the first contact until the last so that I can provide the best and most customized advice I can.”

“My primary objective with this company is not to make as much money as I can. It is to help people. That really is the reason I’m doing this.”

Trevor’s frustration with the financial industry and his passion for helping people led him to leave a VP role at American Express and offer flat fee financial coaching. Read below to learn:

  • Why Trevor thinks he’s a better money coach because he doesn’t have a target market
  • What a full engagement looks like from start to finish
  • How Trevor prices his services to ensure he’s profitable while keeping his services accessible to anyone

Don’t forget to listen to the full episode by clicking the link above or finding the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Why Trevor thinks he’s a better money coach because he doesn’t have a target market

It may sound counterintuitive ‒ especially given his background as a marketing professional ‒ but Trevor decided early on that he didn’t want to target a specific niche as a money coach. There were two main reasons:

  • The diversity keeps things interesting for him. He might be presenting to a roomful of teenagers one morning, meeting with a near-retirement couple that afternoon, and checking in with a multi-millionaire later in the day. There’s no getting bored for Trevor!
  • More importantly, because Trevor works with people from all walks and at any stage of life, he can connect the dots in a person’s financial life and fully sees how different life stages fit together. This ability to see the big picture makes him a better coach.

What a full engagement looks like from start to finish

To give you an idea of Trevor’s process, we thought we would lay out a typical client engagement from start to finish. The relationship generally lasts about 4 months and spans 6 hours of meetings (plus 8-10 hours behind the scenes including unlimited phone and email access). Here’s how it works:

  • The prospective client fills out an introductory form with information about their current financial situation and goals.
  • Next, Trevor schedules a free 45-60 minute no-obligation consultation. During this meeting, he shares a bit about his own background and qualifications and begins to understand exactly what the client needs. This includes basic questions assessing their financial literacy, their relationship to money, and their overall goals. This way, he can customize his service for exactly what the client needs.
  • At the end of the meeting, they go through a 2-page letter of engagement together, which details what clients can expect from him and the fee he charges. Here again, Trevor does something very odd: he doesn’t let anyone sign the letter of engagement during this first meeting. The way he sees it, he would never encourage a client to make a big money decision without sleeping on it. Regardless of how excited someone is to work with him, Trevor has held on to this principle throughout his eight years in the business.
  • Once a client signs the letter, Trevor prepares a customized agenda for their next meeting, a 2-hour deep-dive to start the education process.
  • After the meeting, he usually sends his client further things to read, watch, or listen to, as well as a task list to complete between meetings.
  • Finally, there are 2 more 90-minute meetings to complete the engagement. He closes education gaps and discusses investments, kids, retirement, insurance, legacy planning ‒ everything the client knew they wanted help with ‒ and a whole lot that they didn’t.
  • When it comes time to execute the plan, Trevor has a pretty good sense of how much the client can do on their own and whether he needs to refer them to a fee-based financial planner who can manage their money for them. True to his personal values, he doesn’t receive any compensation from these referrals.

Hint: Trevor has a huge network of professionals including lawyers, accountants, and even marriage counselors ‒ anyone whose services his clients might need.

How Trevor prices his services to ensure he’s profitable while keeping his services accessible to anyone

From his insider’s understanding of the financial industry, Trevor realized that a flat fee was the only possible antidote to what he sees as an industry whose purpose is to sell debt and prey on insecurities and consumerism.

He charges between $1,200 and $1800 for a full engagement… and if you think that sounds low, you’re absolutely right. It’s quite a bit lower than the industry average.

But that doesn’t bother Trevor. His main concern is to ensure he doesn’t price himself out of the market he wants to help. Many of his clients’ net worth is below $100,000, and some are in debt ‒ and those are precisely the clients who need his guidance and education most.

His fee gives him a reasonable hourly rate and still allows him to fully meet his clients’ needs.

If you want to hear more about how Trevor makes his business work, including the event that triggered his jump into money coaching, how he found his first clients, and how he maintains his unbelievable 9.8/10 satisfaction rate, catch the full episode on iTunes, Stitcher, or here on this page. And to ensure you never miss an episode, subscribe and sign up below to get an email notification every time a new episode comes out.