In my research for this blog, I came across one firm that is making a serious commitment to recruit and train minority advisors, with the long-term goal of having them eventually seek clients from the ethnic group that they themselves are a part of.
I spoke with Larry Thomas, partner in charge of recruiting diversity candidates for St. Louis-based Edward Jones (www.edwardjones.com), who a couple of years ago was put in charge of increasing the number of minorities in the firm’s advisory business, about why the firm decided to launch itself in this direction.
“We did this based on the changing demographics of our country,” Thomas says. “The number of potential people we could serve – people of different colors, different cultural backgrounds – is enormous, and in order to tap into that, we really need different kinds of advisors.”
Edward Jones’ strategy is long-term one, Thomas says. It isn’t designed to pay off in the immediate but further down the line, as the number of minorities in this country continues to grow. But the firm is unwavering in its belief that minorities are the future and including them in the financial planning process isn’t just the right thing to do on a societal level, but makes sense from a business perspective, too.
“When we look around us, there are more Hispanics and African-Americans that are going to college, that are inheriting wealth and making fortunes of their own,” Thomas says. “We want to help those people and eventually, all the others that are out there.”
Thus far, the firm has focused its efforts on recruiting in “hot” markets, namely Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix and New York City, where there are large concentrations of minorities. Thomas hopes that advisor recruits will then go farther afield and spread the word, get new members on board and in the longer-term, successfully tap into new client bases.
Edward Jones also makes a serious effort to recruit women to its roster of advisors, thereby increasing their representation in the advisory profession.
The firm has always considered inclusion to be a major part of its culture and has established partnerships with various organizations that are dedicated to placing minority youth in business and industry.
In January, Edward Jones was ranked second on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For 2010″ list.