Ron Carson is founder and CEO of Inc. 5000 firm Carson Group, which serves financial advisors and investors through its businesses including Carson Wealth, Carson Coaching and Carson Partners. Carson is a Barron’s Hall of Fame wealth advisor, one of Forbes top wealth advisors in America and New York Times bestselling author. 

Russ Prince: Can you break down the different businesses under the Carson Group umbrella and the function of each?
Ron Carson: It all started out of my dorm room at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln back in 1983. From those first days, I fell in love with the idea of becoming a CFP and found so many opportunities to help people in a meaningful way. Carson Group has evolved countless times since then, but I’ve always believed that this business was about more than the assets; it was about impact. 

Today the firm includes Carson Wealth, Carson Coaching and Carson Partners. The company currently manages $19.8 billion in assets and serves more than 40,000 families through our partnership community of 120 offices, which includes 35 Carson Wealth locations. 

Carson Wealth is the financial planning and wealth management firm I’ve had since the beginning, through which we serve individuals and families by providing financial planning, investment management, insurance, retirement planning, tax planning, business planning, estate planning and private client services. The Barron’s Hall of Fame firm sets the standard for the proven process we then integrate into all partner locations around the country.

Carson Coaching and Carson Partners are advisor-based solutions within our ecosystem aimed at helping advisors better serve their clients and grow their businesses. Carson Coaching, which has been around since 1993, has become one of the largest advisor coaching programs in the nation including a team of more than 10 executive business coaches with a combined 150 years of experience guiding advisors through their specific challenges to scale and grow. 

Advisors may also choose to join Carson Partners, which supplies the resources, support and tools to help them unleash their full potential by plugging into an entire ecosystem of marketing, technology, compliance, investments, succession planning, and mergers and acquisition support. Partners have the option to retain independent ownership of their firms and remain fully empowered to make all business and operational decisions to best serve their clients.

Prince: Coaching is helping many advisors deliver greater value to their clients. Can you explain the approach you take to coaching? 
Carson: We take a practitioner’s perspective when it comes to coaching. The whole idea of the coaching program came to me in the mid-1990s when advisors asked me how I reached the level of success I had in Omaha, Nebraska, of all places. That curiosity led me to the next phase of evolution at Carson, which was to develop a coaching program based on the best practices I had already proven in my firm. That was the beauty of the program. It wasn’t based on theory; it was based on proven-in-the-trenches experience. To this day it’s one of the differentiating factors between Carson Coaching and many of the other programs available to advisors. 

Through Carson Coaching, advisors have access to one of the largest advisor coaching communities in the country including access to one-on-one coaching as well as our online platform to help them grow their business and better serve their clients. We’ve seen advisors that take advantage of coaching grow their firm 2.5 times faster than the industry average over a two-year period. Since we started the program in 1993, we have helped tens of thousands of advisors grow and improve their firms.

Prince: Why was it important to you that all of Carson’s advisors hold a CFP credential? 
Carson: This call to action more than a year ago came from a place of putting the best interests of our clients first. Yes, many advisors are held to a fiduciary standard, but we believe advisors need to go further. We operate under a “Third Level of Trust” at Carson. The first level of trust is simply proving to your clients that you aren’t going to mishandle their money. The second level is acting as a fiduciary, always putting the client’s interests first. And the third level, which we feel most advisors don’t deliver on, is having the ability to anticipate the needs of clients before they know they have a need. We owe this level of expertise and trust to our clients, and we want to lead the way for the rest of the industry. 

Certification by a respected third-party organization is especially important in today’s society where trust—of the media, financial institutions, government, scientists and others—is scarce. The CFP certification requires holders to subscribe to a stringent code of ethics and practice standards, which is one of the hallmarks separating an industry from a profession. Earning this professional designation raises the bar for the profession and, at first glance, communicates competence and credibility to current and potential clients. 

Prince: What’s the most important thing that Carson advisors do for clients?
Carson: Our guiding light is to always put our clients’ interests ahead of our own. Something we’re working towards to make that more of a reality is giving clients a single source of truth to access. No convoluted directions on where to go for what or multiple logins to get access to different pieces of data. If we can make the complex simple by helping our clients understand what’s happening with their money at every stage and can show the advisor’s tangible value at every stage, we’ll win every time. 

From the way we explain our compensation structure in a transparent way to showing our clients what they need to see in a matter of clicks, to creating an interactive, enjoyable experience for them when they meet with their advisor, Carson advisors deliver value beyond a doubt. And, when I look at the future of financial advice, this is exactly what investors will be looking for. 

The technology we’ve integrated to enhance the experience empowers our advisors to provide a client experience that fully integrates every element of their client’s financial life. No other advisor in the industry can deliver on this promise the way we can for the simple reason that no one else has built what we’ve built. 

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