In January, when I interviewed John Rogers, founder, chairman, CEO, and chief investment officer of Ariel Investments, an investment management firm in Chicago,Â he bemoaned the dearth of African Americans in the financial services industry.
In that post, Rogers conveys his dismay and incredulity that he and his team could not find five African American chief investment officers of major endowments in the country. “Literally, we couldn’t find five,â€Â he told me.
Rogers believes that understanding finance is the key to power and wealth in this country, yet, “This is an area where our community has been locked out [of] for so long.â€
American College of Financial Services
That post goes on to describe Rogers’s generous gift of $10.5 million, the greater part of which endows the Ariel Investments Internship Program in Finance at the University of Chicago.
But the American College of Financial Services may have read that post, and is now getting in on the act. The nation’s only nonprofit, accredited college devoted to financial services has begun a scholarship program with the goal of increasing the number of African American financial advisers. The scholarship fund is part of a larger effort to double the number of black financial advisers over the next decade.
“The scholarships will cover 100% of the cost to obtain a professional designation,â€ reads, in part, a statement the college has released. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited in the statement, only 7.6% of financial advisers are black; black Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population.
The Need for Diversity
“One of the biggest problems facing the financial services profession is a profound lack of diversity,â€ says Dr. Robert Johnson, president and CEO of the American College of Financial Services, in a statement. “We believe all of us in this field have more work to do in recruiting, educating, placing, and supporting thousands more African American financial advisers. The face of this profession needs to change, and the change can start right now if all of us pull together.â€
“Overall, Americans are woefully underprepared for retirement, and for African Americans it’s even worse,â€ says Jocelyn Wright, in the same statement. An assistant professor at the college, Wright helped to create the fund. “If there were more black advisers providing financial services in black communities, then more black families would be better prepared for retirement. One of the major objectives of this scholarship program and the larger effort to double the number of African American advisers over the next decade is to help address that retirement crisis.â€
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