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Tips for women in wealth management: How Sarah Thomas broke the glass ceiling in the NFL

Growing up as a multiple-sport athlete, I really never had an appreciation for the umpires and referees.

That is until I went to college, where I had the opportunity to work in the intramural department. All of a sudden, I was on the other side. I was the one calling the strikes, balls and fouls – making judgment calls.  

Wow! What an eye-opener, I certainly gained a new level of respect for those that hold that position as a career.

As I reflect back on that period of time, the stress of making the right calls and the added pressure of being a female in that role - I can’t help but think of Sarah Thomas. Sarah changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport – football - when she became the first female NFL official. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible.

An inspiration for women

Since her addition to the NFL's roster of officials, Sarah has become a trail-blazing inspiration to women everywhere, embodying the notion that with a belief in self, inner drive, hard work, preparation and a mindset of being the best you can be - no barrier or ceiling is impenetrable. By now, you may have heard that she was the keynote speaker at our AdvisorEngine >drive summit 2019

In addition to Sarah’s keynote address, she hosted a women’s leadership breakfast program. The theme was, “Elevate your voice - be champions for the three C’s women bring to the workplace.”

Those three C’s include:

  • Confidence
  • Compassion
  • Camaraderie

The strengths and experiences women bring to the workplace are unique and valuable. Sarah explained why women should celebrate these strengths and empower other women – especially within male-dominated fields. Sarah completely embodies empowerment and is an amazing example for us all. She shows the value of elevating one’s voice - and CRUSHING it. 

How to bring the 3 C’s to your workplace


In front of the high school gymnasium in her hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi, which has been renamed in her honor, Sarah stated, "This [role] is definitely in tune with who I am," she continued, "you have to be able to take constructive criticism. You have to have an air of confidence, a swagger, but not any cockiness. You need a sixth sense. You can't take things personally. That's all a reflection of my upbringing and my years of playing sports."

Her message to us, “Women don't have to listen to their inner-critic and hold themselves back; they can unleash themselves and reach their best potential if they put their effort into it. That's what I want my daughter to do.”

Unleashing your potential may feel like an uphill battle, especially when you feel outnumbered. Only 23% of all Certified Financial Planners (CFP) are women, according to the latest demographic numbers released by the CFR Board. We can all learn and be inspired by Sarah’s personal story and her keynote speech!


According to a Forbes article, leadership norms are changing and workers are recognizing that traditionally feminine traits are needed for success. Women have the ability to bring different qualities of leadership to the table. Compassion, empathy and patience are just a few traits that pop into my mind. 

These traditionally feminine strengths are what have helped many women to be successful, including me. I employ these skills in my daily work life, navigating the world of wealth management, as a self-proclaimed “salesgirl” - selling great CRM software to great clients.  

I witnessed the power of compassion firsthand, early in my career. After graduating from college with a Criminal Justice degree, I accepted a job as a probation officer. I demonstrated and relied on compassion day in, and day out. Many of the probationers that I helped, changed their behaviors and went on to lead productive and healthy lives. I have held on to these experiences and my ability to show compassion throughout my entire career. It has benefited me greatly. 

Just some food for thought - can you think of a time when you gave or received compassion in the workplace? How did it impact your morale? Or the morale of others? I firmly believe that compassionate people have the ability to inspire others through encouragement and empowerment.


I am fortunate to be surrounded by many great women - at work, in my family and within my community. These connections, the camaraderie, are vital to my success.

We are lucky to have a strong leader, Carly de Diego, at the helm of our client success team as Chief Administrative Officer here at AdvisorEngine®. Like Sarah Thomas, Carly supports camaraderie among women - joining together to uplift, promote and empower one another.

Are you supporting women? Do you have ways in which you could improve camaraderie between the women in your firm? Teamwork makes the dream work - winning teams have a well-honed sense of camaraderie that enables trust, cooperation and commitment, especially among women. 

Breaking the glass ceiling

In an interview with Elle magazine, Sarah Thomas was quoted, saying, "I was raised with brothers. I played in a men's basketball league. I have never allowed my gender to be a crutch or a reason for people to act a certain way. If they have a feeling towards me, that's their issue. It's not mine."

AdvisorEngine was proud to host Sarah Thomas at >drive19 annual conference and we all enjoyed hearing her story first hand. I loved learning more about her experiences applying those life lessons in my own life.

During Super Bowl LIV, when she became the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, I said (ok, I actually yelled excitedly) to my husband, “LOOK!!! There’s my girl Sarah!!” 

He just rolled his eyes. To which I replied, “Hey, us gals have to stick together and root for each other!”

This blog is sponsored by AdvisorEngine Inc. and CRM Software LLC. (“AdvisorEngine”) The information, data and opinions in this commentary are as of the publication date, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to use AdvisorEngine or deemed to be a specific offer to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any financial product, instrument or service that may be mentioned. Information does not constitute a recommendation of any investment strategy, is not intended as investment advice and does not take into account all the circumstances of each investor. Opinions and forecasts discussed are those of the author, do not necessarily reflect the views of AdvisorEngine and are subject to change without notice. AdvisorEngine makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or representations. As a technology company, AdvisorEngine provides access to award-winning tools and will be compensated for providing such access. AdvisorEngine does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.  AdvisorEngine and Junxure are registered trademarks of AdvisorEngine Inc.

Kathy Crowley

Kathy Crowley

With over 10 years of experience in software sales and FinTech, Kathy spends her days sharing the incredible value of AdvisorEngine CRM with advisory firms. You may have seen her at conferences at the AdvisorEngine booth or recognize her voice from webinars. Having past experience as a CRM administrator, Kathy knows the important decision that your firm is making when choosing a CRM and is driven to ensure you have all the information you need. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to helping firms recognize the need for a CRM and how our solution can be the best choice for them.


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