Sarah M. Cain, Carson Group’s Coaching and Consulting vice president, stepped into coaching some years back by informally helping a few entrepreneurial friends. Now at Carson, she heads a team of executive business coaches and practice management consultants.
The financial advisors she coaches are successful, “purpose-driven leaders” who want to use their business “as a force for good” in the world, as she tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
Cain’s own overall goal is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (or DEI). It is to help change financial services to be “more inclusive and welcoming for people who have traditionally been shut out — anyone outside the historical norm for financial advisors,” as she puts it.
Cain also wants to create change to make “advice more accessible to people who have been shut out of financial advice — they need it,” she says.
A 2021 ThinkAdvisor LUMINARIES award winner in the category of diversity and inclusion, Cain and her team help independent advisors and RIAs — with any company affiliation, not only Carson advisors — to grow their thriving businesses.
Before joining Carson in 2016, Cain was the chief operations officer at a large hybrid RIA.
In the interview, she discusses the chief practice management issues that she and her team encounter and suggests how advisors can give behavioral coaching to clients who are resistant to recommendations.
Cain’s team also helps advisors who the firm calls “accidental CEOs.” “Advisors are really great at working with clients. They’re not always great at being a manager and leader,” she says.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Cain, speaking by phone from her base in the Kansas City metro area. On top of her full-time job at Carson, Cain still coaches some friends who aren’t in the financial services industry through her firm Sarah M. Cain Coaching.
In her free time, she trains in muay thai, a version of kickboxing. In our conversation, she explains why the martial arts technique has been dubbed “the science of eight limbs.”
Here are highlights of our interview:
THINKADVISOR: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
SARAH CAIN: Balancing what needs to get done day to day with the change I’m trying to create to make the industry more inclusive and welcoming for people who have traditionally been shut out. That’s women, people of color — anyone who’s outside what we might consider the historical norm for financial advisors.
Another change I’m trying to create is making advice more accessible to more people who historically have been shut out of financial advice — they need it.
Most of the advisors are coached by your team. What determines who you coach personally?
If someone is really focused on using business as a force for good and are purpose-driven leaders.
Business has incredible power to do good things in the world, to make good change, to give back to communities, to take care of our planet. Business is this huge force, which can be used for negative purposes or for good.
Describe the intent of the advisors you coach, please.
I work with people who say: “I’m going to make sure that my business is diverse and inclusive and is taking care of the planet. We’re going to make our industry better; we’re going to give back to the community.”
The advisors I work with generally want to make a positive impact on the industry, on clients, on the world. So we work on that in addition to the general practice-management areas.
Why is B Corporation certification for the advisors you coach important to you?
It says that the business is being run the right way, is transparent about what it’s doing and is committed to using business as a force for good.
Getting back to coaching advisors who are, as you say, “outside the historical norm,” do you coach many advisors of color?
I do. They’re awesome to work with and are some of my favorites.
Overall, do you and your team coach many female advisors?
I would say the [proportion] is right in line with the industry, where women are a much smaller percentage of advisors. Women tend to be more coachable and are more open to coaching.
What do advisors need help with most?
Generally, people come to us when they’ve been successful to a point and then hit a plateau.
Either they’re not growing as fast as they want to, or they hit a bottleneck in their firm and know they need to hire more people or get more efficient and work on the operations side of things — both systems and processes.