Over the last few weeks, the world has come to see how broken our system truly is. People of all colors have flocked to the streets to let their voices be heard and to demand that the change starts now. This fundamental change has to come at all levels and across all industries.
As a young black financial planner, I’ve come to realize that my industry needs a major shift of tides. Black people, as a whole, make up 1.2 trillion of purchasing power yet are so underrepresented in financial services. In 2018, the CFP Board released a study that showed, out of the then 80,000 CFPs, only 1,200 of them were black. Now, why is this racial disparity here you ask? It stems from systematic issues that are so deeply ingrained in American culture. Issues such as redlining, which led to less economic activity, as well as poor funding of school systems in predominantly black neighborhoods. Historically, black people have had less opportunity, compared to their white counterparts–which has changed the way we view money, family structure, as well as ourselves.
I believe that it’s time we change the face of the profession. America is a mosaic filled with people from all different races and color, and the financial planning industry should resemble it. Black financial planners, even though few, are a beacon of hope. We bring with us empathy for the trials and tribulations that our people face. We come with new and creative ideas that will help thrust the financial planning industry to the forefront. Then, most of all, we uplift our communities. We inspire little black girls and boys to dream. To dare to be different, as well as do things they never thought they could, because they never saw someone who looks like them do it.
Where do we go from here?
To see the changes that we want in the profession, I believe that we need to focus on the next generation of black planners. We must mentor the ones who are developing in the industry now so that they can survive the ups and downs of the business. Next, we must also be there and present in our communities as advocates for financial literacy. This is important because not only will it help to bridge the wealth gap in America, it will allow us to be visible and shed light on a profession that may not be known in the community. Then, we must eliminate barriers to entry by donating to organizations such as the Association of African American Financial Advisors and the African American Diversity Scholarship through the American College, whose mission is to develop the next generation of advisors and provide them with a community to help them advance themselves and the profession.
I believe that we are at a turning point, not only in our industry, but in America as a whole. It is up to every one of us to put our best foot forward and be the change that we want to see.
This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.