It’s a perennial issue, one that yet again came to a head a couple of months ago in reaction to the thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the Southern U.S. border.
In July, 17% of the American population stated that immigration was the nation’s top problem. That’s the highest since 2006, according to a Gallup poll, but to all the naysayers and those that are particularly against illegal immigration, Louis Barajas, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Wealth Management LAB, Business Management LAB and Financial Literacy LAB, has this to say: “Just remember that most immigrants coming into this country don’t want a handout, they want a hand up.”
He should know.
Barajas, who once served the financial needs of ultra-high net worth individuals from a plush office in Newport Beach, California, was born and raised in East Los Angeles. The Barrio isn’t an easy place by any stretch of the imagination, he says, and when it comes to financial planning, there’s a particular mindset that has as much to do with cultural traits as it does with poverty. Together with the lack of financial knowledge, this particular way of thinking holds people back from building wealth.
Barajas quit his high-profile job at Kenneth Leventhal & Co. in order to bring his knowledge back to the Barrio. In September, he received the Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award for his work.
He believes strongly that imparting financial knowledge and education to hardworking, entrepreneurial people can help them rise above the odds and move up in the world. His goal is to break through the “mindset” and to help others have an easier time than he had to grasp, in a first instance, the basics of financial planning, and from there, move on to exploiting that knowledge to make the most of their talents, abilities and experience.
Barajas himself moved up the ladder the hard way.