Rianka Dorsainvil’s grandmother worked until she couldn’t work anymore.
Like so many other African-American women of her generation, Dorsainvil’s grandmother “was the kind of person who took care of everyone else,” says the financial planner and the FPA’s 2015 NexGen President-Elect. That, coupled with a lack of knowledge about financial planning, ensured that “she was working until she was forced to retire, and it was only after she passed away that I knew the extent of her financial situation.”
Her grandmother’s experience – still so common among many African-Americans and minorities, she says – is, in retrospect, one of the main reasons that Dorsainvil is committed to her career as a financial advisor.
Dorsainvil did not set out to be a financial advisor but in college she took a retirement planning and investing class, and the knowledge she gained there captivated her to such an extent that she began sharing it with others, helping her friends and family fill in their tax returns and realize the benefits of not living pay check to pay check.
Today, Dorsainvil is founder and president of Your Greatest Contribution, a fee-only virtual financial planning firm dedicated to serving busy professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The firm allows her to serve the kind of people she wants to serve and help others in a pro bono way (such as volunteering through the IRS to fill out tax returns for low-income earners) in an effort to reduce the wide gaps that still exist between different segments of the population with respect to financial planning.
Dorsainvil believes her greatest forte, though, is that she is part of the all-important millennial generation, which she calls “the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. Because ours is such a diverse generation, I am very optimistic that our profession is also going to become much more diverse as we age.”
Dorsainvil believes that one of the most important parts of her role as the FPA’s NexGen president is to show other minorities, women in particular, that they can be a successful financial planner.
“Young women have reached out to me to learn more about the financial planning profession, and they said specifically that ‘Rianka, I have never seen anyone who looks like you be successful in this profession but because of you, I think I can,’” Dorsainvil says. “These young women are going to be career changers and this is why I believe it is so important for young professional women of color to step out because other folk in the community need to see you being there. I am very optimistic about our profession – we have more and more next generation and millennial planners entering, and even if it still isn’t enough, we are making headway.”
That is something that Lazetta Rainey Braxton, founder of Financial Fountains in Baltimore, agrees with wholeheartedly.
The number of young people from minority backgrounds entering the profession is extremely encouraging, she says, and a far cry from her early days, when women, minorities and women from minority backgrounds were few and far between. “Our earlier conversations were always about ‘Where is everyone?’ but now, we’re getting the breadth and depth that we need as demographics in America change,” Rainey Braxton says.
The younger generation of advisors from different minority backgrounds not only understand the cultural context of serving people from those communities, but they are also going to be instrumental in teaching their peers that they need to plan for themselves, Dorsainvil says.
“It’s ingrained in us that we need to take care of family,” she says, “and many millennial financial planners from minority backgrounds may well be the first in their families to have a white collar job. If family is a priority, it’s important to make that a part of your financial plan, but you need to learn to pay yourself, too. You have to be clear about all your goals, because it’s always easier to say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ when you have a plan in place.”
For Rainey Braxton, both younger and older planners have much to learn from each other. Advisors like herself can serve as “dialogue partners” to younger entrants, she says, and they can help their older peers to better understand the millennial generation.
“I am sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and the millennials, and in my practice I am tempted to follow what was done with the Baby Boomers, but that won’t allow me to keep my business sustainable, so I have to follow the mindset of the millennials,” Rainey Braxton says.