American College Starts Black Broker Scholarship Program

The fund aims to boost the share of advisors who are African-American, which is now less than 8%

The American College of Financial Services has launched a scholarship program to help boost the number of African-Americans in the financial services industry.

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 7.6% of financial advisors are African-American, though members of this demographic group account for about 13% of the U.S. population.

To start the program, The American College is providing $200,000 in scholarships.

“One of the biggest problems facing the financial services profession is a profound lack of diversity,” said American College CEO Robert Johnson, 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 advisors. The face of this profession needs to change, and the change can start right now if all of us pull together,” Johnson explained.

Some firms, such as Raymond James, have been pushing to support existing African-American registered representatives. Its Black Financial Advisors Network has doubled in size to about 50.

“Overall, Americans are woefully underprepared for retirement, and for African-Americans it’s even worse,” said Professor Jocelyn Wright of The American College, in a press release.

“If there were more black advisors providing financial services in black communities, then more black families would be better prepared for retirement,” Wright said. “One of the major objectives of this scholarship program and the larger effort to double the number of African-American advisors over the next decade is to help address that retirement crisis.”

Recently, Wells Fargo and more than 330 African-American advisors reached a preliminary settlement over a discrimination lawsuit that awards the advisors a total of $35.5 million.

The American College hopes that its new scholarship program can improve both the financial planning and financial services employment situation of black Americans.

Its scholarships will cover all costs of obtaining its professional designation.

--- Check out Community College Students: New Source of Financial Planners? on ThinkAdvisor.

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