Coaching — The Big Boom And Status Of The Industry Today
‘The Big Boom’ in Coaching
The industry experienced a massive boom worldwide across a range of sectors over the past few decades — being the second-fastest-growing sector in the world within the past 10 years.
The main reason that contributes to such rapid expansion is the fact that coaching is not regulated by any formal authority which means the bars are quite low for anyone to enter the market as there’s no previous qualification, education, or experience formally required.
Also, it’s very easy to get qualified or only self-qualify to start. Currently, there are over 500 entities that certify coaches worldwide, an expanding market itself; it’d be insightful to analyze its quality standards. The only globally recognized professional coaching certification at this point is ‘the ICF Credential’ granted by the International Coach Federation.
As the sector is so broad and unregulated, there’s no precise way to determine the number of coaches or the full extent of the industry. Finding accurate and consistent data about its global or regional growth has also proven difficult.
Nonetheless, a recent ICF report conducted by PwC suggests that global coaching market value crossed $2,4 billion in 2019 expecting to grow annually by 6% as compared to $2 billion in 2016. The estimated global total revenue from coaching in 2015 was $2.4 billion representing a 19% increase over the 2011 estimate. In the US, the market value was $1.02 billion in 2016, compared to $707 million in 2011. Interesting data, right?
A search for ‘Coaches’ world-wide over LinkedIn as of April 2020, gives over 6,280,000 results. A survey by ICF from 2009 estimated about 47,500 coaches worldwide which represent over 132 times (13,200%) growth in volume over the past decade. We also have to consider that this number is only a fraction of the full industry result as not all Coaches in practice are LinkedIn registered.
The ICF also accounted for 21,000 professional coaches based in Europe in 2009 out of which 7,500 business coaches were based in the UK. The study failed to account for private coaches/ life coaches which suggest a far higher number of coaches in total at the time. The UK market currently hosts over 370,000 coaching professionals only registered with LinkedIn which represents 1,5 % out of 24.46 million full-time working population. (Results from Jan 2020 by ‘Office for National Statistics’)
The rapid growth over the past few years determines the state in which the coaching industry is found today. And it links to its challenges as well as the direction it’d have to proceed. There certainly is a need for regulation to take place requiring more credibility for coaches. The study by Harvard Business Review from 2009 already suggested that:
‘’The coaching industry will remain fragmented until a few partnerships build a brand, collect stellar people, weed out those who are not so good, and create a reputation for outstanding work.’’ Coaching and Mentoring by Jane Renton
Challenges the industry faces today
The rapid growth of coaches worldwide over the last years causes a massive market over-saturation.
This means that the already established and successful coaching businesses still keep on thriving although it requires a lot more business innovation than in the past, while young and talented coaches entering the business today struggle with too much competition, and many eventually leave the industry.
And while I strongly believe that there’s always a space on the market for extraordinary service, starting to coach now as well as further developing the business is becoming increasingly difficult — unless one always chooses the right way to approach their business which, in a business world, is not easy.
Another negative consequence is that this environment makes it very difficult for people who have not experienced coaching yet to find the right coach.
How is a customer supposed to easily navigate in a market seemingly exploding with specialists of all kinds offering comparable services? How to even determine their quality standards? The increased demand for coaching over the past decade, especially between 2010–2015, coupled with a highly increased offer, sky-rocketing since 2015, mostly from coaches with lacking credibility who failed to provide the quality of service they promised, caused underlining doubts about coaching value and mistrust towards the industry.
Meaning, if it was challenging to sell the service to clients decades before — when the benefits of coaching as a new discipline were not known well yet, now when they are finally understood better, sales is not easier. It requires much more creativity than in the past when the word of mouth, personal experience, and free online marketing options were enough to secure a few lasting clients. And if it was easier to buy before, now it’s getting more difficult with an explosive offer and the uncertainty clients have about the methods, results, value, and quality of personal coaches.
The global technology progress and its influence on our day to day lives that drives the constant change of customer behaviour require more creativity, open-mindedness, online presence and flexible working options from coaches who were by default taught to work with clients one-to-one and face-to-face to provide the desired value and quality of service.
Now, the global economic crisis driven by Covid-19 as well contributes to challenging the already transforming industry, asking for an even bigger transformation.
For any coach who seeks to continue coaching and delivering quality while not getting squashed under the ever-growing competition that thinks the same, they need to go beyond their ‘coaching’ specialization and think technology, innovations and sustainability, sales, marketing, PR and online presence (public speaking or publishing) including online learning; and ideally, master these all. Or alternatively, find a reliable network of partners — suppliers to provide the additional services inevitably needed for today’s coaching practice.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the coaching supplier network is over-booming as well with an ocean of potential customers. So to succeed as a Coach nowadays, you need to know your market and its requirements well to know what to focus on, what to invest in as well as where your future lies — what are the growing trends to help you develop your brand.
And as a coaching client, it’s good to have an awareness of all these aspects to ensure you’re looking for and working with the most suitable people for yourself.
I hope you found the information insightful and that it helps you understand coaching as a discipline, the industry and a growing market better. And also that from now on, you will be able to better navigate in it, including better directing your search for and a choice of the right Coach for yourself by understanding your priorities well.
Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions or to share your thoughts with me. I am enclosing additional resources below for your information and further research.
Diversity in Coaching: Working with Gender, Culture, Race, and Age; Jonathan Passmore Edition 2, 2009
Is the coaching industry ripe for digital disruption?; Personnel Today; https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/coaching-industry-ripe-digital-disruption/
The $11.6bn coaching industry continues to boom, and it’s being led by women — for women; Real Business; https://realbusiness.co.uk/female-coaching-industry-uk/
Top 6 Things to Know About the Personal Coaching Industry; Market Research.com; https://blog.marketresearch.com/top-6-things-to-know-about-the-personal-coaching-industry
‘Transformation Academy’ materials available to Coaches and students
2016 ICF Global Coaching Study, International Coach Federation; https://coachfederation.org/app/uploads/2017/12/2016ICFGlobalCoachingStudy_ExecutiveSummary-2.pdf