The Untouchables

After 24 years as a financial advisor, I’m taking the jump into blogging. While I’ve read several blogs over the last few years ranging in topics from sports, automobiles and clothes, I’ve decided to write about something I’m passionate about: robo-investing.

So, why me? Well, let me share a little bit about my background. I was raised in a single parent home in Philadelphia. I developed an early love of numbers and science and parlayed that into a scholarship to Lafayette College. After graduating and briefly pursuing a professional career in basketball, it was time to get a job. I was tired of being broke. Well, how did I get into the financial services industry? Through a mentor who offered me my first REAL job at an old-line insurance company in Philadelphia, Penn Mutual Life Insurance. I learned a lot, but most of all I learned how to tell a story through numbers.

After Penn Mutual, I landed at Morgan Stanley and had the best time of my professional career. I went through the financial advisor trainee program and over the next several years worked my way into management. I had positions throughout the mid-atlantic states. And through those experiences, I learned the basics of investing and how it’s can be one of the most accessible and affordable ways to build wealth. But, I rarely found minorities willing to invest substantial funds (>$500,000k) and that caused me to question the who financial services model. Could have been my lack of skills or just plain bad luck!

You see, where I’m from we didn’t have neighbors who worked for Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch or UBS. Just working class people concerned with raising their families the best way they knew how and hoping their kids future was better than theirs. And that’s my motivation in writing this blog — to be a voice/champion for the underserved!

The explosion of robo-advisors have made investing/building wealth more accessible than ever. Low cost, algorithm-based investing with no need for financial advisors. The old paradigm is being challenged and ground is being gained. But, what about the underserved? They need to be marketed to in a different manner. I know — I’m a part of that community and still closely connected to what’s important to them. Trust and ease of use are very important in making in roads to minority communities. As an African American, I know and see very little grass roots marketing (meaning going where they live, eat and play). The same goes for Latinos and Asian Americans. So why the disconnect? I’m gonna say it? No not racism!! It’s just companies don’t care about them because they aren’t one of them. It’s a very simple concept. I know — I wasn’t supposed to be in the financial services industry. No parents or friends who told me about Wall Street. Just my dream of making something better of myself from the sacrifices of my family. And with innovation in technology there are no longer any excuses. With an opportunity to reach out to minority communities that Wall Street has failed at and from my vantage point really could care less about. It’s just not profitable. Or so I’ve heard. Well, in my next blog I’ll share more details on some ways some changes can be made…

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