For an organization like the Association of African-American Financial Advisors (also known as Quad-A), promoting diversity in the financial advisory profession begins with fostering the importance of financial planning as a career.
This doesn’t just mean talking to students about financial planning, says Sharif Small, president of S.J.S. Financial Firm, who serves on Quad-A’s board, but also educating them on the importance of financial planning at the individual level.
“In the minority communities that we come from, people are not really brought up with the notion of financial planning, so it’s our obligation to make sure people understand the importance of financial planning, and the younger the better,” Small says.
Quad-A reaches out to student organizations at historically black colleges in the states surrounding Washington, D.C., to talk about the importance of a financial plan along with financial planning as a career option. This kind of educational outreach is very important, Small says, and he’s keen to replicate efforts in colleges across the country. In fact, Quad-A would like to start education efforts at the high school and college level, Small says, because “it’s never too early to find about financial planning.”
Quad-A firmly believes that increasing financial literacy and promoting education in the African-American community is the way forward to ultimately see more African-Americans understanding the importance of proper financial planning, and, in due course, finding out about the profession and becoming advisors. But, he says, that goal cannot be achieved without the support of nationwide professional organizations like the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board).
“We definitely need to partner with the FPA and other organizations to make our efforts more targeted and meaningful,” he says. “The FPA has a minority scholarship program, which is great, and several of our members have benefited from it. Also, Quad-A offers scholarships, mentorships and internship opportunities to college students who express a career interest in financial planning. It would be great to get support for some of our other initiatives and to be able to work together to achieve greater success.”
Currently, Quad-A’s focus is on trying to get historically black universities like Howard to introduce degree programs in financial planning. Few colleges offer this option, Small says, so it’s an important initiative and one that is sure to achieve great success in getting more African-American students interested in a career in financial planning.