By Ryan Velez
There has been a long-time call for more African-American professionals in a variety of fields, ranging from medicine to education. Black Enterprise has a recent article calling attention to an area with a dearth of Black professionals that rarely gets much attention: financial services, planners in particular. To this end, they brought on Jocelyn Wright, an assistant professor at the American College of Financial Services, to share some of her insight on the gap. The College recently started a scholarship fund designed to increase African-Americans in the field and will cover 100% of the cost to earn a professional designation.
When asked about the need for such a fund, Wright explained that the lack of professionals in the field couldn’t be at a worse time: Here is a growing wealth gap in our country, as well as a looming retirement crisis, particularly in the Black community. There is a correlation between having more advisers in the profession and more empowerment around our finances. At a recent conference for African American financial professionals, one of our speakers—an astronaut—said the percentage of African-Americans in the space program is higher than the percentage of African-American financial advisers.” Seeing as the College provides a lot of education for people in the position, it was a natural fit for them to try and address the issue.
While the scholarship is a major step, it is one part of a major goal. ” Our moonshot goal—which involves more than just the scholarship—is to double the number of Black financial advisers over the next 10 years to 16%,” Wright says. She adds that financial advising is a rewarding profession. Many people, especially in the younger generations, are placing a higher value on jobs that give you a feeling of giving back. Financial advising can do just that, especially if you are supporting businesses or people in your community. The insights that African-Americans can provide to their own communities in this regard is part of the reason why there is a high demand for them.
To date, five scholarships have been awarded, and Wright was very happy to have notified three of the five recipients personally. ” I’m excited about this effort because it will catalyze a shift in the industry and have a tremendous impact on the African American community. We’re also looking to get additional corporate sponsors and partners to contribute to the scholarship fund,” she shared.