I recently wrote about the American College of Financial Services and its new scholarship fund aimed at increasing the number of African Americans in financial services. The scholarship, which will cover 100% of the cost to earn a professional designation, is part of an effort whose goal is to double the number of black financial planners over the next 10 years.
To learn more I spoke with Jocelyn Wright, an assistant professor at the American College, who helped to develop the fund.
Black Enterprise: Why is the American College of Financial Services developing this fund?
Jocelyn Wright: There 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.
American College is in a position to do something about this since we provide a great deal of education to individuals in the profession.
BE: What is the goal?
JW: 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%. Financial advising is a very rewarding and satisfying profession. You can do well and do good—it provides a way of giving back, which is something people look for in their career choices.
BE: Does the effort consider that black people earn less than other races?
JW: Many studies have shown that. But it’s important to note that income doesn’t equate to net worth. You can have a low income but a higher net worth than someone with a higher income. We still need to develop a wealth mindset in our community and know about savings and investments, inheritances, leaving a legacy. We need to shift the mindset to building wealth in our families. We need financial advisers to help people to empower themselves financially.
BE: How many scholarships have you awarded?
JW: We’ve awarded five and I notified three of the five. 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.
For more information, go here.