Practice Management

Industry Leaders Aim To Increase Number of African American Advisers

Establishing scholarship funds and more carefully considering the benefits of diversity in the hiring processes are just a few of the ways an increasing number of firms say they are committed to improving industry diversity. 

By Javier Simon | March 27, 2017
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Even though African Americans make up about 13% of the United States population, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports they account for only about 7.6% of financial services practitioners.

In response to this significant representation gap, several business and community leaders are leading efforts to change the face of the advisory industry into one more representative of the United States as a whole.

The American College of Financial Services is starting by launching a scholarship program as part of its “mission to double the number of African Americans working in the financial services industry within the next decade.” Anyone who is Black or African American and is in college, recently graduated, or interested in changing careers is welcomed to apply.

According to the organization, the program would cover 100% of the cost of earning a professional designation such as certified financial planner (CFP) or earning a master degree in financial services or financial management.

American College Assistant Professor and CEO of Ascensus Wealth Management Jocelyn Wright says the idea for the scholarship grew out of a story in a local Philadelphia paper about the retirement income gap among African Americans. She says the story quoted an astronaut who said the percentage of black people in America’s space program outpaces their representation in the financial services industry.

That note also struck American College President Robert Johnson, so the school moved to start the scholarship fund, initially committing $200,000. Johnson says he plans to expand the program “into the millions with the help of donors, corporate partners, and supporters.”

NEXT: The benefits of diversity are clear