The recent Olympic games in Tokyo got me thinking about coaching, what being a good coach really means, and how coaches can help individuals and teams achieve previously insurmountable levels.
It’s one thing to have someone break down the statistics and flaws of your last performance, but a true coach goes far beyond that to get the most out of individuals.
We saw this during the games when an athlete didn’t get a podium spot but still achieved their personal best, or simply outperformed what they thought was achievable for them, and their coach shared their joy with them. They were invested and understood just how brilliant it was.
Coaching is useful in a plethora of other areas too and so it was always my desire to include currency coaching at Fluenccy.
While showing FX data is useful, it’s what you do with it that can lead to tangible results for a business as I’ve seen with many SMEs I’ve worked with.
On top of that, it’s how a coach, well coaches, that can really be the make or break for those positive results.
A great coach wears many hats and understands how their many roles pertain to their overall program.
Here are a few roles a coach takes on:
As a coach, it comes down to adjusting to the individual and to the varying situations that come along.
Knowing that the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work, a great coach respects uniqueness and adapts as the circumstances need.
In the business of foreign exchange it’s really no different; a good ‘trader’ or ‘dealer’ matters most and is mostly the equivalent to a coach - just without the whistle. This person’s role is not to ask you what you want to do, but instead their job is to know what you need to do for the most productive and effective outcome.
They’ll be on the front foot when it comes to foreign currency thanks to their own experience and the knowledge they’ve accrued over the years, but crucially this won’t dominate the advice for what’s right this time around for their client. Think of them as information and experience gatherers who can provide you with guidance based on evidence.
With their fountain of wisdom, they’ll also have the critical soft skills to support you through changes and better planning. As with most things, communication is key for this; reframing the reality and situation so it’s more accessible and understandable, gently but firmly encouraging action and the idea of alternative possibilities and results. Without this piece of human interaction, you may as well read endless books and articles around FX to work out the best method for you. (NB: not many have the time to do this, and if they do, it can quickly become mind boggling and progress can be slow.)
It’s the job of a coach - FX or athletic - to lead, motivate and push their clients to alternative ways of thinking with the main goal being a better, enhanced outcome that utilises all areas of potential. In my opinion, having a coach is something that we can all do with.
Skill 1: Empathises with credibility
You want a coach who’s been there before. Perhaps not to the point of running their own business but one that’s seen and saved other businesses from really bad currency decisions during key financial moments.
This firsthand experience represents credibility allowing your relationship to start from a place of trust - a must when it comes to financials and profit margin.
Question to ask yourself: Is your current coach experienced in business, not just FX?
Skill 2: Uses positive judgement
Your coach should know what good currency practice looks like and relay to you when you’re doing it, so you’ll learn and know too.
To feel good about any business decision, we must truly understand its consequences - the good and the bad - and a coach will help you to see this while giving you all the necessary details to support you along the way.
For instance, using a Forward contract that you bought three months ago to lock in your profit margin is good practice regardless of whether the spot rate changes. Having this consistency means you and your business know exactly what you’re managing and can plan sufficiently around that.
Question to ask yourself: Does your current coach refer to Forward contracts as ‘good’ only when they are mature above the current spot rate? (If so, that’s not great coaching.)
Skill 3: Utilises all information for decision making
Let’s face it, we all rely on our accountant and see them as our trusted advisor to know our business and to tell us what’s best to do within the business. We do this because they have access to all our financial information and because they understand the many other details of the business itself; they see the full picture and use it.
So with all this data plus their know-how, an accountant, for example, can help us find the right loan from the right lender taking into account our business’ strategy, plans and personal preference for risk and consistency. They use all the information at their disposal to form a decision that’ll yield the best results for our business, not another similar one they worked with previously.
Question to ask yourself: When it comes to foreign currency and international invoices, who plays this role?
If you do have someone, do they have all the necessary information? If so, do they have it all the time? Or are you calling up a different provider as and when you need, giving only the very basic information?
Skill 4: Consistent and develops trust
Sticking to the plan is hard in foreign currency because rates can move quickly, testing any business owner or decision maker who is financially and emotionally invested in the organisation.
So, what is needed is a currency coach. Someone who stays calm in times of rate volatility and reminds you what you should be buying, providing a consistent base. This should essentially look like sticking to the currency plan you had both agreed to before and not being blinded by the latest rate. Herein comes that role of trusted, reassuring supporter.
A currency coach is also distanced from the business a fraction more than you. While being a part of it, they aren’t invested to the same degree as you, the owner, which is important for balance and clarity in times of stress or worry.
Q: Do you trust your coach to help you make good foreign currency buying decisions? If not, why?
Skill 5: Listens with emotion
Lastly, your coach must really hear you. A good listener is crucial for all of the above.
I don’t need to tell you that your business is important to your life. It supports you and your family, and isn’t a simple machine that has no dependencies or any passion. The old adage of business and emotion being separate entities is not true - as you well know.
Your coach needs to really understand how you feel about your business and they need to remember this, particularly every time a currency decision is being made.
Side note: this element does require full transparency on your part too! Admit your knowledge gaps, when you need help, what you’re happy with (even if they don’t agree).
If for any reason you’re not sticking to your foreign currency plan that was agreed, it’s simply not the right plan for you. Your coach needs to hear this, and a good one should have an idea before you even say anything.
Question to ask yourself: Does your coach understand you? Do you understand your currency strategy?
A well developed currency coach understands their role, not as an FX provider, but as part of the SME business itself.
Similar to an Olympic coach (albeit without the track meets), they must have the varied skill set to support, manage and empathise while also being firm enough to know when to push for a currency plan that better suits what they’re client is working with.
At Fluenccy, we provide just this type of coaching. We have decades of experience under our belt, within FX as well as helping SMEs with their FX strategy. There’s many reasons why the big corporations do so well, and one of them is their ability to coach and share the lessons of foreign currency to others.
It’s only with years of experience and witnessing and being a part of different scenarios that well-rounded thought and strategy comes about. As the saying goes, good judgement comes from experience. We’re proud and confident that we’re able to offer this to more SMEs and accountants under the Fluenccy brand and using our tools.
Our goal is to break down the myths and misconceptions so that foreign currency isn’t so elusive any more. We simplify currency so that SMEs and their accountants better understand what works for them, how to plan and how to manage their international invoices.