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Creating Intentional Career Paths for Diverse Individuals

Lazetta Rainey Braxton.pngPeople seem to come into the financial planning profession by some other route, said Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®.

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, CFP®, was one of those people.

“To be honest, I stumbled across [the profession],” Rainey Braxton told Dorsainvil in an April 2018 episode of 2050 TrailBlazers where she discussed how current planners can help nurture younger planners or future planners to make a more intentional effort to enter the profession.

There was not a financial planning track at the University of Virginia, where Rainey Braxton got her bachelor’s, nor was there one at Wake Forest University, where she got her MBA. She had a mentor who was a CFP® professional and introduced her to the profession and the rest was history.

The country’s shifting demographics are such that planners from different backgrounds and more women will likely enter the profession in the coming years and the women and planners of color who have paved the way can lend a hand in helping to welcome them.

Here are some key takeaways to make the profession a space people of color and women will want to intentionally enter:

Mentor. Mentors are necessary if you want to be innovative and inclusive. Mentoring is a mutually beneficial arrangement, Rainey Braxton said, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who oftentimes gets burnt out from constantly giving and working.

“Mentors, they hold you accountable, but they also pour back into you,” Rainey Braxton said. “Mentors have a way of giving you life back as you give your life to others.”

Dorsainvil herself admitted that she would have been applying for jobs outside the profession a few years ago had it not been for the mentorship of several women, including Rainey Braxton.

“There’s this quote saying you may not remember what the person said, but you will always remember how they made you feel,” Dorsainvil said. “I still, three years later, have that feeling of feeling so empowered and feeling a sense of belonging in this profession by seeing so many other people that look like me.”

Be welcoming and supportive. There was a time when Dorsainvil was going to start applying for jobs outside of the profession because she felt like she didn’t fit in. But then at an FPA Residency event,  Elizabeth Jetton, CFP®,  told her she needed to meet Rainey Braxton. She did. Then she attended the first-ever Quad A conference and suddenly felt like she belonged.

“Belonging does matter,” Rainey Braxton said. “We all want to feel as though we belong and are appreciated and valued for our contributions.”

Reach out to others who may feel peripheral and make them know that they are valued and welcome.

Create opportunities. Rainey Braxton has worked with partners like FPA, TD Ameritrade, CFP Board, and InvestmentNews, among others to create opportunities for stellar planners of color to come together, network, or showcase their knowledge.

The first of which is the Quad A conference, which launched in 2015 as a pre-conference to the FPA Annual Conference. This year will mark the organization’s fourth annual conference.

She was also instrumental in creating a the LeCount R. and Jewel W. Davis Scholarship, named in honor of the founder of Quad A, LeCount R. Davis and his wife. (In 1978 LeCount R. Davis became the first African American to earn the Certified Financial Planner designation.) The scholarship is for African American financial planning undergraduate students who have demonstrated success at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

Be an example and see students through. Student programs at universities and membership organizations continue to attract female and diverse students. Volunteering with these programs—especially women and planners of color—will help show them that the profession is becoming welcoming and diverse.

Plus, these programs are a great place to engage in recruitment. As the number of students intentionally choosing to become a financial planner continues to grow, it is imperative to continue to engage in all the above tips.

“We can’t lose those who we bring on board as students,” Rainey Braxton said. “We need to see them through.”

The Heart of Financial Planning

Rainey Braxton, along with Elizabeth Jetton, CFP®, and Janet Stanzak, CFP®, will be presented with a Heart of Financial Planning Award for her work in the realm of diversity and inclusion at the FPA Annual Conference in October. Rainey Braxton has been in the profession for 20 years and this year is celebrating 10 years of operating her own successful firm Financial Fountains.

“Congratulations to Lazetta, Elizabeth and Janet who have each made significant strides to transform the lives of others and move the financial planning profession forward,” FPA President Frank Paré, CFP®, said in a recent news release. “The noble profession we know today, and the advancement of it, can be attributed to these leaders, and others, who have demonstrated their ‘heart’ by sharing the benefits of financial planning with others and giving back to our community.”

Register for the conference today. Registration closes September 21.

About the 2050 TrailBlazers Podcast

Dorsainvil began streaming episodes of 2050 TrailBlazers in March 2018. FPA is one of the sponsors of the podcast that is sparking conversation on diversity and inclusion in the financial planning profession and attempting to address issues of recruitment and retention of professionals of color.

This podcast highlights ways to increase diversity in the financial planning profession. Listen to the podcasts by a previous FPA Diversity Scholarship winner during your commute and check out the show notes for more information about the people and topics covered. Subscribe on iTunes and Google Play or visit the website. Interested in the FPA Diversity Scholarship? Apply today to be considered.

Ana TL Headshot_Cropped

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.


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Attracting and Keeping Diverse Planners and Clients

CNBC reported more than a year ago that there are not enough financial planners to meet the demand for services needed from consumers who want to plan more thoroughly.

“We do have a gap in our profession because many advisers are retiring and the pipeline isn’t keeping up with the pace of those aging out of the workforce,” Shannon Pike, CFP®, vice president at Tanglewood Legacy Advisors in Houston and past president of the Financial Planning Association, told CNBC.

Things haven’t changed much.

Financial Advisor Magazine reported that in 2014, 43 percent of planners were nearing retirement. It’s four years later and those planners are even closer.

Attracting diverse planners to the profession is not about pushing out qualified individuals for underqualified people, it’s about filling the giant hole that is about to open up with qualified, talented people who are being wooed by other professions also.

Cy RichardsonTo attract diverse talent, the profession has to up its game, Cy Richardson, senior vice president of the Urban League told Rianka R. Dorsainvil, CFP®, in an episode of the podcast 2050 TrailBlazers. Other professions—like law and medicine—are also throwing their hats in the recruitment ring, Richardson said.

And since this is a profession where people can do “both well and good,” Richardson said, they will no doubt be attracted to it.

Richardson and Dorsainvil dive into the following aspects in examining how the financial planning profession can better attract and retain diverse planners and clients.

And if you’re wanting to fill the gap with diverse talent, here are some things you can do.

Respect cultures. There may be a misconception that the financial planning profession is all about numbers, Dorsainvil said.

“Numbers are involved, but being a financial planner is all about relationship-building,” she said. “It is about learning your clients so that’s why culture is very important working with, for example, an African client and understanding that the eldest son is typically responsible for the parents.”

She elaborated that if you do have a client from this background, there may be a line item that is a few thousand dollars for parents that is non-negotiable. So attempting to get this particular client to do away with that $2,000 line item might be considered offensive.

If you are already attracting clients from different backgrounds, Dorsainvil and Richardson said it’s imperative to know and understand their cultural values to keep them.

Richardson added that some families might have multiple generations living in one household.

“The obligation of any member of [that] household may not necessarily fit traditional, mainstream American values in terms of the patriarchal male-dominant of the house,” Richardson added. “You may have a female head of household or multiple female heads of the household.”

Journal Columnist Meir Statman, who immigrated to the United States from Israel, wrote a column about this very topic for the August issue, which offers more intricate insight on cultural differences and how they tie into your practices.

“There are so many different nuances that we need to become culturally aware so that we can be able to serve our clients best,” Dorsainvil said.

Be better at building relationships. Knowing how to make both client prospects and people who are new to the profession feel welcome is another key ingredient to attracting and retaining them both.

Richardson said the diverse talent you hire will most likely be adept at this skill and would likely make a valuable addition to your staff.

“A planner who understands the contextual forces at work and has more than just the cookie-cutter approach to consumers and building relationships and making people feel comfortable, that is a particular skill set for communities for color, for planners of color, because we’ve had to do it our whole lives in terms of making ourselves comfortable in majority settings, in making other minority folks feel comfortable in majority settings,” Richardson said. “That kind of resilience is built into our DNA. Why not direct that experience towards a profession that requires it?”

Work on listening and empathy skills. The power of listening isn’t new to our readers. At the FPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Eric Maddox, an interrogator who was the mastermind behind Saddam Hussein’s capture, told us that listening is the foundation to building trust in any relationship.

“First and foremost, you must listen,” Maddox told the Journal in 2016. “Listening is not an art; it’s a learned skill.”

But developing these skills can help both with your clients and your new hires and will make them feel comfortable to share and make them feel safe, Richardson said.

Maddox also told us back in 2016 that, “Empathy is to listening as water is to the human body. It’s everything.”

“We need to make those skill sets compulsory parts of this profession,” Richardson said. This not only helps in “meeting prospects where they are but ensuring the profession can be adaptable to prospect desires.”

Dorsainvil said this profession should be an attractive option for communities of color.

“For those who are saying, ‘Is this a career path for me?’ Absolutely,” Dorsainvil said.

Why Is This Issue Important?

By the year 2050, what are considered minority groups today are projected to become the majority. Numerous studies show that authentically recruiting and retaining people from different backgrounds with unique perspectives helps companies’ bottom lines.

Dorsainvil reports from a recently released press release from CFP Board that just over 3 percent of all CFP® professionals are people of color. And if the world is poised to change so drastically by 2050, the profession will benefit from recruiting and retaining professionals of color as well as learning how to serve these communities.

About the 2050 TrailBlazers Podcast

Dorsainvil began streaming episodes of 2050 TrailBlazers in March 2018. FPA is one of the sponsors of the podcast that is sparking conversation on diversity and inclusion in the financial planning profession and attempting to address issues of recruitment and retention of professionals of color.

This podcast highlights ways to increase diversity in the financial planning profession. Listen to the podcasts during your commute and check out the show notes for more information about the people and topics covered. Subscribe on iTunes and Google Play or visit the website.

Interested in the FPA Diversity Scholarship? Apply today to be considered.

Ana Headshot

Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.