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How much does executive coaching cost in the UK? What do executive coaches charge?

01 Nov 2019

Many businesses have coaching pools of external coaches. And many of these pools have become what one client called "a sprawling, tagtag band of coaches of questionable training, and questionable fees."  

So over the years, Lequin - as one of the longest-running coaching companies in the UK - have been commissioned by several global organisations to vet their coaching pool and recommend which coaches to keep and which to part ways with. During these assessments, Lequin has reviewed the fees of these executive coaches and several organisatons offering coaching. 

The executive coaching fees

  • The fees varied from as low as £500 to £1275 per two hour session per session. The mean average was £1110.
  • Some coaching businesses varied their rates depending on the coachee's seniority. For example, one coaching business charged £4500 to £7000 dependent on the level of the coachee.
  • And one individual had a very strange pricing strucuture: he charged based on a client's salary (up to £50k = £5,500, £51-£75k = £7,000,£76k - £100k = £10,000, £101k - £140k = £14,000 etc) and the client has unlimited access to his coaching services until the objectives had been achieved.  

Our assessments

During the coaching-pool assessment process, we assessed coaches against 7 criteria:

  1. number of years' coaching & hours of coaching
  2. number of years' business experience with a global business prior to becoming a coach
  3. job title and level of management achieved while working in a global business 
  4. public sector or private sector work experience
  5. coaching qualifications & training
  6. the quality of the coaching over two, one-hour coaching sessions (observed by a Lequin coach)
  7. type and level of coaching accreditation

The key part of the coaches' assessment was listening to the coaches coach over several coaching sessions.

The findings 

From this criteria, we found 3 categories of coaches:

  • Group 1 - coaches charging £500 to £850: had little or no business experience with global businesses prior to becoming a coach; worked up to middle management positions prior to becoming coaches; had less then 5 years' coaching experience as an external coach; when we listened to them coach, they were skills-coaches (fine for coaching graduates and junior management - but not for coaching middle to senior management.) We found many hobbyists in this group - part-timers filling in between jobs. One coach even said they had a high-earning partner, so didn't really need to work but coaching was 'an interesting experience'. 
  • Group 2 - coaches charging £850 to £1250: had on average 9 years' coaching experience as an external coach; had 7 years' quality work experience with a blue chip organisation; trained with one of the better coaching organisations (through not all coaches had); when we heard them coach, most were above average to high quality (though there was the odd consultant who was not coaching, but masquerading under the title of 'coach' and trading off an impressive work CV).
  • Group 3 - coaches charging over £1250: these were coaches that were overcharging i.e. they offered nothing over-and-above the best coaches in Group 2, and when we listened to them coach, they were often not as good as those in Group 2 since they were mentoring and advising - rather than coaching. The coaches from the larger, well known HR consultancies often fell into this Group. 

Why do businesses end up with such a huge variation in charging & quality?

Prior to Lequin reviewing the coaching pools, a lot of L&D managers admitted that there method for choosing coaches (which we know from talking to many 100s of HR and L&D employees is exactly the same) was based two criteria:

  1. A coach's physical appearance; and
  2. Their business background before becoming a coach. 

The L&D managers had not asked about their external coaches' qualifications, accreditation, supervision, coaching experience, and none had enquired about coaching philosophy. For instance, few knew what a gestalt coach was. 

And critically, none of the L&D managers had actually listened to their external coaches coach!! "I'm not sure what I'd be looking for, to be honest" was one reply. But many were happy to put their own reputation at risk by placing unvetted coaches in front of their most senior leaders.

So what should a global blue-chip business be paying for a two-hour, face-to-face executive coaching session with a high quality coach?

A reasonable rate for high quality executive coaches, in our view, is £1050 to £1200 per two-hour executive coaching session in the UK. There is no evidence to suggest that paying more than this gets you a better coach.

This is a rate you should only pay for executive / business coaches with the right credentials. These credentials for executive coaches are summarised in another blog on this website. They include 7 points, which you review at http://www.lequin.co.uk/blog/how-to-assess-how-good-a-coach-really-is-2/ 

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