Everybody needs a coach. We all know about OU’s Brent Venables and OSU’s Mike Gundy, but you don’t have to be an elite athlete to need a coach. A lot of people have coaches to help with a variety of things.

There are golf coaches, fitness coaches, executive coaches and even life coaches. They assess our needs, help us set goals, teach us how to reach them and guide us through adversity.

Wherever there’s a goal to be achieved, there’s a coach to help us get there, even in the financial world.

You could say that coaches who make the biggest long-term impact on people’s lives are financial advisers. They’re not the kind of coaches who get glory or many pats on the back, but they may be the most committed, sticking with clients for years, even decades, to ensure they successfully reach comfortable retirements.

Make no mistake, financial advisers are not cheerleaders. Sure, they deliver the good news, but they also give the bad news, and, like any good coach, they’re not afraid to have tough conversations.

Saving is at the foundation of any financial plan, and it’s never too early to start, but most people begin seriously considering planning when they reach their 30s and 40s. By then, they’ve established careers and have accumulated savings, assets, and liabilities. From time to time, they encounter financial obstacles that can knock them off course.

To start, advisers sit down with clients and talk about their salaries and other income. They go over IRA accounts, 401(k) plans, pension plans, private investments, taxable accounts and so on. They discuss mortgages and other debt, then look at future Social Security income. It’s a little like the first day at the gym with a personal trainer.

Once the evaluation is complete, the journey begins with the financial adviser serving as investment manager and financial planner. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Reviews might be once a year or twice a year with some emails or phone calls in between. Life changes are inevitable, and the financial planner is there to help with adjustments to ensure clients stay on track.

Fees a client pays can vary for financial planning. The service comes standard with accounts at some wealth management firms or is considered an a la carte option at others. Even large custodial firms that manage 401(k) programs offer financial planning through interactive websites.

The financial journeys we take are too important to travel alone. Just like the Sooners and Cowboys, we need people to help us with our game plans and to advise us when it’s fourth and long. In life, we make a lot of decisions on our own, but when our financial futures are at stake, it helps to have a coach.

Kyle Ray is a licensed financial adviser, serving individuals and families.