Surfing the Social Wave - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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allstatelogoScores of people rush home from work or school to check their MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages. In the meantime, their retirement planning either sits dormant in the back of a file cabinet or hasn’t even been considered. Desirée Rogers, the recently appointed president of social networking for Allstate Financial, is planning to integrate the two ideas and give Allstate customers an opportunity to create an interactive network where they can talk about their financial needs.

Rogers, the former director of the Illinois Lottery, envisions a forum where users can give each other feedback, while also providing professional advice.

“Our research has shown that middle-market customers get their financial advice from family, friends, and people like them,” Rogers says. “People don’t run around talking about their retirement, but more and more people are worried about their future. As people hop from job to job and as companies make decisions about limited and defined benefit programs, people are having to craft and put together their retirement for the future.”

Rogers credits her position at the Illinois Lottery, where she led a reinvention effort which culminated in the launch of the Mega Millions multi-state game, with helping her to develop an ability to create different choices based on what people liked. “To me, that position provided an opportunity to work on my creativity, while at the same time ensuring that it fit within the confines of the business, extended the brand, and delivered to the customer.”

“Above and beyond all, Desirée is a leader,” says Jim Hohmann, president and CEO of Northbrook-based Allstate Financial. “She is someone who, once you get to know her, you’re glad you do.”

As the first female African American president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas (now divisions of Integrys Energy Group) Rogers led her department in encouraging customers to think about tips to reduce energy costs. “I’d like to do the same on the retirement side,” says Rogers, who hopes to have a pilot Website functional by years end. “How can we guide, counsel, and educate the customer, and make this something they don’t have to worry about, so much so they can have the life they want to have?”

Indeed, on the heals of a survey by Radio One Inc., which reports that the digital divide between white and black people has faded, Allstates’ endeavor comes at an opportune time. The study also finds that among “digital networkers,” the majority of who are in their 20s, 45% are already saving for retirement, and 72% of black people want to learn more about how to invest. Fifty percent believe banks and other financial institutions do not understand their needs.

According to the Ariel-Schwab 2007 Black Investor’s Survey, the overall value of savings and investments is an average (median) of $48,000 for black people and $100,000 for white people.

“For African American customers, one of the things we see is that many times we don’t prepare the way

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.