The Most Popular Coaching Client Attributes: the statistics

The following results I have accumulated are by a ICF Global coaching study (which was released in 2016) and undertaken by PwC. This has been the most extensive and expansive research effort within coaching to date, as the coaching profession itself continues to evolve.

The thorough surveys used in the research resulted in over 15,000 valid responses from over 130 countries. Forty countries achieved 100-plus survey responses each, qualifying leaders of their ICF Chapters to receive access to customized survey data presented via an online data reporting platform. Also crossing the 100-plus response threshold were:

  • 18 U.S. states
  • Four Canadian provinces
  • Two regions in the United Kingdom
  • Three Australian territories

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The most common coaching client attributes (according to all the coaching practitioners) were divided into the categories of 4 attributes, namely:

  • Position held by Client
  • Sponsorship status of the Client
  • Gender of Client
  • Age of Client

Position held by Client

The most coached client were Managers, as indicated by every two in three coaches. The Managers were followed by Executive-level clients (CEOs, CFOs, etc), while Business Owners and Entrepreneurs took the 3rd spot. Please see graph below to percentage of positions held by clients.

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Coaches were also asked to identify the position held by the majority of their clients. Managers were mentioned most frequently (29%). Almost one in four (23%) said they mainly coached executives, with a further 19% selecting personal clients. The pattern of majority client positions is very similar to the results reported in the 2012 ICF Survey, both in terms of the frequency and rank order of positions.

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Primary and Sponsored Clients

Coaches were asked what proportion of their clients pay for their own coaching (primary clients) and what proportion have coaching paid for by a third party (sponsored clients). Globally, the majority of clients are sponsored. Compared to 2011, the sponsored share has increased by two percentage points, from 51 to 53%. See the following graph for the complete picture across continents:

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Gender of Clients

According to the surveys, females continue to account for the majority of coaches’ clients. At 54% the female share of coaches’ clients is unchanged from 2011. The regional pattern in client proportions by gender also remained stable between 2011 and 2015. See graph below for trends across continents:

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Furthermore, the gender share varies with the main specialty of the coach practitioner, as evident in the graph below:

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Age of Clients

Coaches were asked to indicate the proportion of their active clients falling within a series of age bands. Their responses indicate that, on average, 60% of clients are under age 45. When compared with 2011, the 2015 results indicate a shift in the age composition of clients toward older age groups. Notwithstanding the increase in the proportion of clients aged 45-plus, it remains the case that the age profile of clients tends to be younger in the emerging regions. See graphs below for the data:

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What are your expectations for future trends regarding the data above? Do you expect dramatic changes in the near future or expect to see the same statistics? Please feel free to  discuss below. 

 

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