One of the general sessions of NAPFA’s annual conference was a session with John W. Rogers, Jr., chairman and founder of Ariel Investments. He was a fitting choice to address the topic as he’s been held up as an example of diversity throughout much of his professional life. He related how his interest in investing began when his father started gifting him stock at the age of 12. As a teenager he’d hang around the office of his father’s broker looking at the ticker tapes.
When he graduated from Princeton he was the first African-American broker hired by William Blair & Company. A few years later, at the age of 25 he decided he was better suited to be an investment manager than a broker and founded Ariel Capital Management, now the industry’s largest minority-run mutual fund company.
In his talk to the assembled NAPFA advisors, Rogers stressed the importance of diversity, not just in terms of race or orientation, but diversity of thought. He pointed to his own company (see article on page 56) as an example of a firm comprising many different kinds of people that has prospered.