Demand For Executive Coaches Remains Steady

By Staff
September 10, 2009

Even though many individuals and companies are cutting back during the recession, demand for coaches who assist with honing management or communication skills remains strong.

"The profession has grown tremendously and it's still growing as people try to reinvent themselves to stay in the workforce," said Ann Belcher, spokesperson for the International Coach Federation in Lexington, Kentucky, who was quoted in The organization is made up of over 17,000 coaches in 90 countries, while a decade ago, it had less than 2,000 members.

Belcher noted that coaches offer very specific help with challenges and opportunities and help people sharpen thinking and decision-making skills and boost confidence.

"In a down economy, it's particularly important to have someone on your side," explained Eric Chaffin, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York, who has paid for a coach out of his own pocket since 2003 and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal. "Instead of 10 client opportunities this year, there may be five. You have to make each one count."

His coach is Dee Soder, who founded the CEO Perspective Group in New York. She has helped him in the past by weighing his job offers and offering him guidance about working with clients hit hard by the recession. "She's helped me understand some of the characteristics of my clients and their motivations," Chaffin said. reports that coaches charge between $50 to $250 per hour, with the average about $100 to $150 per hour. But the Journal notes that executive coaches hired by large firms can charge $300 an hour or more.

Nevertheless, companies are protecting their coaching programs even as they slash budgets during difficult economic times. For example, Wide Open West Inc., a telecommunications provider in Denver, canceled merit raises this year and suspended company matching contributions to 401(k) plans. But the company plans to spend $25,000 this year on coaching for three managers.

"Our fundamental belief is you have to develop your greatest assets, which are your people," explained Colleen Abdoulah, chief executive of the company.

Similarly, Humana Inc., a health insurer in Louisville, Kentucky, will spend as much as $30,000 for six months of sessions for each of about 50 senior employees. The sessions will focus on building an executive presence, communicating ideas and influencing others.

"Even in a recession, developing talent in key roles is still important," explained Jeff Nally, who heads the firms' executive coaching program.

Coaches are also being increasing hired by individuals. Soder told the Journal that the number of clients who are paying out their own pocket has almost doubled since November. And Wendy Alfus-Rothman, founder of the New York-based executive coaching firm Wenroth Consulting Inc., said more individuals are scheduling monthly sessions instead of quarterly.

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