ICF Consumer Research Illustrates High Value of Coaching Credentials

Global study shows consumers seek out, are more satisfied by, credentialed coaches. New research released by the International Coach Federation (ICF) shows growing consumer awareness of the professional credentials and certifications held by Business and Life Coaches.

Commissioned by the ICF and conducted by the International Survey Unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the 2014 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study tapped directly into the minds and motivations of consumers around the globe to ascertain awareness of the coaching profession and of ICF and to gain insight both from those who are aware of the coaching profession and/or the ICF and those who are not. Available in 16 languages, the survey forming the basis of the study was administered to 18,810 individuals representing the 25 countries with the highest populations of ICF Members. Seventeen countries included in the 2014 study were also part of ICF’s benchmarking 2010 research.

Among survey respondents who had participated in a coaching relationship, more than eight in 10 (83 percent) said they thought it was “somewhat” or “very” important for coaches to hold a credential.

“Consumers face many choices when selecting a coach. They need an assurance that they are partnering with a well-prepared professional—someone who has invested in training and education and adheres to a stringent code of ethics,” said Magdalena Mook, ICF Executive Director and CEO. “Earning a credential clearly indicates a coach’s commitment to professional and personal growth and signals to the client his or her understanding and masterful application of the art and science of coaching.”

The 2014 findings demonstrate that consumers are more attuned to the importance of coaching credentials than they were in the past. Among 2014 survey respondents who had been in a coaching relationship, 51 percent said with certainty that their coach held a certification or credential, while 20 percent said their coach did not and 29 percent said they were unsure.

Among countries that had also been included in the 2010 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, the proportion of coaching consumers who said their coach held a certificate or credential increased by six percentage points, while the number of coaching consumers who said they were unsure of their coach’s credentialing status declined by 7 percentage points.

Although a majority of coaching consumers (85 percent) reported that they were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their coaching experience, satisfaction levels varied according to the client’s awareness of a coach’s credential. Among consumers who recalled that their coach held a specific certification or credential, 93 percent expressed satisfaction. By contrast, consumers who said their coach did not hold a credential reported 81 percent satisfaction.

Advocacy was also higher among consumers whose coach held a credential. When asked to use a 0 – 10 scale to describe how likely they were to recommend coaching to their colleagues, friends and/or family, the mean score for consumers whose coach held a credential was 7.57, compared to 6.85 for those whose coach did not hold a credential and 6.59 for consumers who were unsure of whether their coach held a credential.

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