How much does executive coaching cost in the UK? What do executive coaches charge?
01 Jul 2019
Many businesses have a coaching pool 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 businesses to vet their coaching pool and recommend which coaches to keep - and which to part ways with. During these assessments, Lequin have 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 £1475 per two hour session per session. The mean average was £1110.
- Some coaches charged for a set of coaching sessions and 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).
During the coaching-pool assessment process, we assessed coaches against 7 criteria:
- number of years' coaching & hours of coaching
- number of years' business experience with a global business prior to becoming a coach
- job title and level of management achieved while working in a global business
- public sector or private sector work experience
- coaching qualifications & training
- the quality of the coaching over two, one-hour coaching sessions (observed by a Lequin coach)
- type and level of coaching accreditation
The key part of the coaches' assessment was listening to the coaches coach over several coaching sessions.
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 or several 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 their method for choosing coaches (which we know from talking to many 100s of HR and L&D employees is exactly the same) was based on two criteria:
- A coach's presence, initial impact, and physical appearance (i.e. did they look the part?)
- 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 can review at http://www.lequin.co.uk/blog/how-to-assess-how-good-a-coach-really-is-2/
How to conduct an assessment of your organisation's coaching pool
There are three stages to assessing your organisation's pool of external coaches.
- Define who gets coaching. High quality executive coaching is not cheap, so being clear on which managers and leaders get coaching, and when, is important. You need to be clear on who your key stakeholder are - the people in your organisation whose performance makes the most impact in the key areas. This clarifies which people should have a coach and which shouldn't. A classic example of bad practice we've seen in several organisations is the use of coaching as a substitute for outplacement support where a weak manager with an underperforming team member passes the buck to HR, who then passes the buck to an external coach in an last-chance-saloon effort to 'fix' the bad apple. These people should NOT be getting coaching from an external coach. (The manager should be having self-development!)
- Define the criteria against which to assess quality. In our experience of running assessments, using the criteria in the link above will remove about 50% of coaches from the pool.
- Listen to your coaches coach. This is the only way to truly know how good a coach is, and indeed, whether someone is actually coaching! The problem is that the managers being coached - the coachees - don't know what good coaching is. For a lot of coachees, just having someone listening to them without interruption and giving some useful tips, is deemed a useful coaching session. But quality coaching is nuanced and skilled, and requires years - lots of them - of practice, supervision and training. So, you need to listen to someone coach to understand how good (or average!) they are, and whether they are a good fit for your organisation. This requires considerable skill and experience on behalf of the assessors.
To speak to Lequin about how we can help your organisation assess your external coaches, please email Peter Willis, firstname.lastname@example.org