I first want to thank Lisa for creating such a wonderful article from our hour long conversation. She clearly captured my thoughts and beliefs and conveyed them wonderfully to the advisor community. I look forward to having future conversations, whether it be to further this discussion, or around the industry as a whole.
Rereading the article I thought that I would clarify and elaborate on some thoughts that were mentioned. It is often assumed that companies hire (or should hire) African Americans because they will target their own ethnic group and thus the organization will become more diverse. Due to our human tendencies, I believe people tend to pursue people that look like themselves and have similar experiences and reference points, however, the ability to do that in this industry is difficult to say the least. It is my intent to play a significant role in helping Integrated Partners in the area of diversity, not only from a broad based perspective, but also from an African American perspective. That said, as a recruiter, working for a planning organization, I would handicap myself if I made my efforts to improve diversity solely pursuing the African American community of advisors. Why you may ask? Because African Americans only make up 1.5% of the total number of CFP’s in the United States according to a June 2018 Forbes article. That means there are only 1200 African American advisors who hold the CFP designation out of the 80,000 total CFP’s.
Therefore, the thought of impacting our firm and industry in the area of diversity solely through recruiting African Americans would be a mistake. I believe young African Americans have to be made aware of the multiple rewarding opportunities within the financial services industry. Out of the belief that a person cannot choose what he or she does not even know exists, I believe financial services companies have to partner with the best and brightest of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) in order to create the necessary exposure and training tracks so that more opportunities can be chosen. That can bring meaningful and lasting change.
Lastly, I’d like to elaborate on my ministry experience. When I got into ministry, the fact that building wealth in the black community is different from building wealth in the broader community became glaringly obvious. Black families in general, for a number of reasons, have been unable and Ill-prepared to build generational wealth and pass that wealth onto succeeding generations. Much of the wealth accumulated was consumed by the creator of that wealth and there wasn’t a sufficient quantity to pass onto future generations. Broadly speaking, Black families have not controlled capital. Their modest wealth, by in large, has come from their labor. Understanding the importance of investing and the power of compounding in a practical sense, simply wasn’t present. How can we do better? We have to become exposed and educated to this industry and the rewards it has to offer. That will require companies to become committed partners with HBCU’s until change is evident.