Adasina Social Capital, a Black-owned, female-led independent investment advisory firm established by Rachel Robasciotti and Maya Philipson, co-founders of the Robasciotti & Philipson RIA firm, is dedicated to social justice as an investment strategy. The firm invests in public companies that advance progressive policies such as LGBTQ+ equal employment opportunities, and screening out companies involved in the fossil fuel, prison and tobacco industries as well as companies that use forced arbitration to resolve issues like sexual harassment. Its investments focus on five themes of justice: racial, gender, economic, climate and “movement aligned,” which includes corporate accountability, animal welfare and human safety.
Allianz Life in 2020 donated $1 million to nonprofits committed to addressing systemic inequities, and another $1 million to nonprofits that support older adults and caregivers facing hardship due to COVID-19. The firm partnered with other community and business leaders to develop resources to help organizations prioritize D+I. The company also committed to increasing representation of people of color in its workforce. It placed extra emphasis on using assessment, measurement and research to guide D&I decisions. Since rolling out the program last year, Allianz Life has conducted 21 sessions to help nearly 500 employees (including 43% of managers) build cultural awareness.
Blaylock Van, Wall Street’s oldest continually operating Black-owned investment banking firm, has experienced success in the past year as more U.S. companies and municipalities recognize the value of doing business with diverse business enterprises, especially those within the financial services sector. The firm, which serves corporations, municipalities, investment managers and pension funds, is 87% Black-owned with a diverse employee base. It has helped investment managers, pension funds and companies gain diversity exposure through the inclusion of Black- and women-owned firms. Blaylock Van also is committed to other initiatives via its community service and diversity programs, such as the San Francisco Achievers program.
BNY Mellon’s Pershing views diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as a business strategy central to achieving high performance, competitive advantage, innovation and growth. The firm has created greater awareness of economic, wealth, education, health and criminal justice inequities in our communities and acknowledges progress has been made but the most critical work is ahead. The firm is working to impact society through workforce development, economic empowerment and financial literacy, and has long-term relationships with charities and organizations. It acts on behalf of underrepresented groups through executive commitments to self-educate, create an inclusive culture and provide opportunities through professional development programs and recruiting efforts to increase representation at all levels.
Facet Wealth focuses on diversity in hiring staff, attracting and serving clients and supporting candidates who wish to become financial professionals. In 2020, Facet Wealth changed compensation to be more equitable across client-facing roles, conducted unconscious-bias training, and developed Slack channels for diverse employee affinity groups. Partnering with the CFP Board, the company committed to funding the Facet Wealth Scholarship for Increased Diversity in Financial Planning. Additionally, Facet Wealth is a founding member of Baltimore Tracks, a coalition of Baltimore-based leaders who are committed to increasing opportunities in technology for people of color.
Freeman Capital is the only Black-owned automated wealth management platform registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Freeman caters to those who have until now been overlooked by the industry. Using a simple subscription fee model, the firm removed the hurdle of needing assets to build assets. In March, it was selected to participate in the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator Program and also was awarded $50,000 in funding from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund. The company also competed in the 2020 Celebrating Black Founders Semifinals challenge and won the title of Startup of the Year.
PGIM, the asset management arm of life insurer Prudential Financial, recently launched “Inclusion Month” — an initiative slated to take place each October that includes events, campaigns and resources focused on a specific topic related to inclusivity and is accessible to its 3,500 employees worldwide. This initiative aims to go beyond raising awareness and emphasizes ways to build the skills and mindset needed to help inclusive behavior become a “way of being.” In its first year, PGIM put a spotlight on the need to address bias, value uniqueness and prevent harmful micro-messages.
Rose Capital Advisors is a 100% minority-owned business and continuously recruits from historically black colleges and universities. This year, the company invested in and partnered with venture capital funds whose focus is on minority- and female-founded businesses that are underrepresented in fundraising. The firm also launched a partnership with Ethic Investments to build the Rose Capital Impact Portfolios. One of the firm’s sustainability pillars is racial Injustice. Rose’s impact Portfolio divests from companies with poor anti-discrimination policies, substantial revenue from weapons or tobacco or business activities with negative impacts on communities of color.
Snappy Kraken has an executive team and workforce made up of 50% women and the executive team also is 50% people of color. As a firm, it broke the mold in advisor marketing research by publishing a comprehensive study to determine best practices for advisors by analyzing over 30 million data points. This year’s State of Digital Benchmarking Study, for example, analyzed 39,000 digital campaigns, 13.6 million emails, 3.1 million contacts and 679,000 page views throughout the U.S. The study is provided free to advisors to help them grow their business by using methods proven to work rather than failing at experiments.
Rachel Robasciotti, the co-founder of RIA Robasciotti & Philipson and
Adasina Social Capital, is as much a social activist as a financial advisor. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley and working briefly at a financial firm, Robasciotti opened her own company to serve women, people of color and LGBTQ+ folks. Adasina Social Capital, which Robasciotti founded and heads as CEO, invests in public companies that advance progressive policies such as equity and inclusion. Her Due Diligence 2.0 initiative is designed to increase the flow of capital to asset managers led by Blacks and Indigenous People of Color.
Barbara Fuchs, vice president of talent management at
PGIM, in response to social injustice events of 2020, coordinated 21 listening sessions with more than 450 employees globally. Using session insights, Fuchs helped PGIM launch a revised racial equity plan that included an audit of hiring and promotion processes and new targeted inclusion training. Fuchs also worked with the Black Executive Leadership Team to deliver a comprehensive program for Black History Month. And in March, Barbara managed the International Women’s Day program, which was delivered in a virtual format to a global audience of more than 1,000 people.
Katie Moore, a managing director with
Hamilton Lane, leads the company's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council. She helped create a new "HL-All" strategic plan aimed at embedding DEI into the fabric of the firm. She helped launch the firm's DEI Speaker Series and an internal DEI Slack channel. She also has served as a mentor to interns in the company’s partnership with Girls Who Invest, and as a participant at the annual Undergraduate Women's Private Equity Summit. Moore also spearheaded the firm’s Social Justice Chats (#SJChats), a series of employee-facilitated small group conversations about racial and social inequities.
Christopher Gandy, an advisor with
Midwest Legacy Group LLC, is an active member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council. Gandy also serves as a board member at Alive Youth Team Center, where he also hosts an annual basketball camp. To increase financial literacy, he annually presents at the Student National Medical Association. He also spends time serving on the board of the Chicago Concussion Coalition, which strives to make amateur sports safer for children. Gandy is also on the board of directors of the Urban League, part of the United Way's Young Community Leaders, and volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.
Shundrawn Thomas, Northern Trust Asset Management president, as one commentator said, “dives right into the inconvenient truth many of us want to avoid.” During his career, he’s been an executive sponsor for both Northern Trust’s Women & Leadership Council and head of the firm’s Latin American Leadership Council and hired and/or promoted numerous women and minorities for senior positions. He expanded NTAM’s Minority Brokerage Program to include research; added disabled individuals and veterans; and in 2021 increased to 15% from 10% the firm’s target for commissions on equity trades executed through minority brokers regarding all of its collective investment trusts.
Rudy Rodriguez leads
Ameriprise Financial’s enterprise diversity & inclusion strategy, which focuses on recruiting diverse candidates, D&I training and a supplier diversity program. He also created a Global Diversity Speaker Series, and under his leadership, the company has increased recruiting and retention of women and people of color for the past five consecutive years. Rodriguez is board chair of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. He’s also a board member of Minnesota LatinoLEAD. He serves as D&I chair for Minnesota State Colleges & Universities and is chair of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association D&I Committee.
Amy Webber, Cambridge Investment Research president and CEO, always has been a strong advocate of diversity & inclusion. Some of her recent efforts include devising a formal Code of Conduct, which aligns values of integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness expected of every Cambridge associate in dealing with other employees as well as clients and vendors. She also set up a DEI committee to help the firm set strategy and drive change, as well as a DEI Advisory Council of Financial Professionals, made up of advisors, to foster a culture where all advisors, staff and clients feel comfortable and have the resources to feel valued and respected.
Fanci Worthington, a branch manager for
Cetera Investors, Worthington recruits with diversity in mind. Last year, she co-founded Cetera’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Council — a yearlong commitment to work with the firm’s CEO and others to find ways to recruit and support women, people of color, and others on the Cetera team. The council has helped raise nearly $250,000 for renewable scholarships for next-gen financial planners. In April, Worthington co-chaired the first Connect2Impact — a quarterly event for Cetera Financial Group financial professionals and employees that navigates how to better serve those traditionally underrepresented in the financial profession.
Tom Hake, president of Hake Investment Group, an affiliate of Raymond James Financial Services, is founder and national co-chair of the Raymond James Pride Financial Advisors Network, whose mission is to support clients and advisors who identify within and serve the LGBTQ+ community. Launched last year, the network today claims a membership of nearly 200 LGBTQ+ advisors and community allies. Tom also served as co-coordinator and co-presenter for the firm's three-month research and review process to adopt transgender-inclusive medical benefits in October 2019.
Natasha Horn, director at
BNY Mellon’s Albridge, an affiliate of Pershing, elevates diversity, equity and inclusion and recommends actions ensuring inclusivity. She has been advancing DEI for 15+ years as a leader within IMPACT, a multicultural employee resource group. Horn played a critical role in Courageous Conversations about race throughout the company. She is a member of an industry council that works to build an inclusive business leadership pipeline and increase the number of successful Black executives. Horn volunteers in her community as a member of its Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee. In short, she is a change agent actively promoting change.
Denise Williams, chief people officer and EVP of human resources at tech provider
FIS, implemented a strategy to increase awareness and inclusion in education, engagement, visibility, recruitment and charitable partnerships. Williams also chairs the Enterprise Inclusion & Diversity Council at FIS. Recently, she served as host of the American Heart Association’s Central and NE Florida Chapter’s 2020 STEM Goes Red for Women event to inspire school-age girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-related industries. Williams serves as executive sponsor of STEM initiatives at FIS. Additionally, Williams is an active participant in mentorship and educational programs for minorities in Florida.
, chief financial planning nerd of
, also is the host of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, which has featured 114 women in the industry — from the founders of major financial services enterprises to those who started a solo firm to balance work and family life — whose stories have been heard nearly 2.5 million times. Kitces notes that the number of female CFP professionals has been "stuck" at 23% for nearly 20 years, and the lack of stories about successful female advisors has been a major inhibitor to attracting more women according to the CFP Board's own diversity research.
Leslie Tabor oversees
Schwab Advisor Services’ RIA Talent Advantage program, which helps advisory firms attract, develop and retain diverse talent, and the DEI Advocacy Board, which helps connect advisors with each other and with Schwab leaders to share their perspectives and solutions. Tabor also helped develop the RIA Talent Advantage Scholarship Program. She is a member of the CFP Board’s Diversity Advisory Group, which helps increase diversity in the financial planning profession. She is also a member of the Financial Women of San Francisco, through which she serves as mentor to the organization’s annual scholarship winners.
Brian Haney, founder and vice president of
The Haney Company, is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors' Diversity Council, the diversity committee of ASAE (a group of some 48,000 association executives and industry partners), the Equality Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Females & Finance, all with the purpose of being an ally and partner to underrepresented groups. Recently, he helped The Haney Co. earn Green America's Green Business Certification, which is awarded to small and midsize businesses that are committed to using their platform for positive social and environmental change.
Akeiva Ellis joined
Ballentine Partners in August 2017 as the sole Black employee. She co-led a grassroots initiative to advance DEI in the company. She also co-led firm-wide diversity, equity and inclusion training efforts and assisted in rolling out software that allows assessing unconscious bias. In 2021, the company made DEI initiatives an official part of her job. As part of this role, Ellis is the project lead in establishing the firm’s diversity scholarship to help support Black and Latinx CFP candidates. She also assists the chief creative officer in establishing the company’s Black wealth initiative.
Sarah Cain, Carson Group vice president of coaching & consulting, recently worked with industry experts to design a diversity, equity and inclusion course that is available free to industry members. The online course includes core information, videos, reflection questions and actionable steps individuals and firms can take to make progress in the DEI area. Cain believes if advisors don’t try to attract and retain a diverse team, they’re missing a huge opportunity. As a female in financial services for the past 16 years, she understands this first-hand. She especially was energized to develop the course after the racial unrest of last year and seemingly waning of initial interest by the industry.
Rose Niang is director of financial planning at
Edelman Financial Engines’ office in Duluth, Georgia. She founded EFE’s Black and African American Employee Resource Group, BEACON (Black Employees Advancing Career Opportunities and Networking). She also founded EFE’s Black and African American Employee Resource Group with a goal that might seem counterintuitive: to make the group obsolete. BEACON has implemented several new initiatives, including a mentorship program and an engagement program to welcome new hires. Niang didn’t just want a place for her colleagues to congregate and resolve small issues, but rather an action-oriented initiative to harvest and retain Black talent.
Jim Roberts serves as CEO of
Jim Roberts Investment Advisors LLC, the only RIA in the state of Michigan certified as a minority-owned registered investment advisory company. He serves on the board of the Michigan Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Lakeshore Excellence Foundation, Berrien County Pension Advisory Council and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. In 2020, he was named Minority Supplier of the Year Winner by Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. He also spends much of his time mentoring other minorities at local businesses.
Bailard Inc. , women make up nearly 40% of senior leadership. Also, the independently owned company has women and minorities together owning 49% of the company. Bailard supports a remote internship initiative, internal diversity & inclusion training and recruiting practices, as well as corporate policies that ensure accountability. One example is their open-compensation policy, which has helped create an open and honest workplace. The Bailard Foundation implemented a number of initiatives in 2020, including a $500 match on any employee gifts to an organization that seeks to address and end systematic racism and oppression of Black, Indigenous and people of color.
Schwab Asset Management and Ariel Investments’ latest Black Investors Study reveals several uncomfortable truths about the financial services industry. Only 35% of Black investors say they feel they are treated with respect by financial institutions vs. 62% of whites. Perhaps as a direct result, 55% of Black Americans say they don’t work with or don’t plan to work with a financial advisor. However, of Black Americans who do work with an advisor, 53% say they feel they are treated with respect by financial institutions. The data signals a clear and positive call to action for the industry and shows how the relationships that advisors have with clients are truly impactful.
Hamilton Lane’s Undergraduate Women’s Private Equity Summit, now in its fourth year, brings together university sophomores and juniors from across the United States to learn about professional development, career pathing and private markets. In 2021, the company expanded this program globally and hosted international events for Asia-Pacific and European, Middle East and Africa students. Hamilton Lane was recognized by the Private Equity Women Investor Network as International LP of the Year for 2020. The company also supports the Campus Outreach Program, Analyst Development Program, Girls Who Invest, Cristo Rey Philadelphia and SEO Alternative Investments.
John Hancock's MLK Scholars Program each summer, sponsors the employment of more than 600 Boston teens at 50 nonprofit organizations. This program empowers Boston teens with career readiness and financial literacy to help them grow as leaders in the office, classroom and greater community. Through the program, John Hancock offers expanded access to EVERFI — an education technology company — allowing Boston students from other summer job programs to participate in the virtual curriculum alongside MLK Scholars. The program also benefits the nonprofit organizations that employ them, as it provides the opportunity to engage Boston’s diverse student population.
PGIM Inclusion Month, launched in 2019, is an initiative with events, campaigns and resources that helps employees build the skills and mindset needed so that inclusive behavior becomes a “way of being.” In its first year, PGIM put a spotlight on addressing bias, valuing uniqueness and preventing harmful micro-messages. The training focuses on identifying unconscious bias and provides practical means for reducing its prevalence. The month culminates with a master class. Additional resources are housed on a custom-built intranet site for the next 12 months for continued employee access and training.
American Portfolios launched AP for LIFE Creative Residency in 2020. The two-year, $200,000 funding commitment initiative was established with the nonprofit organization LIFE Arts. The program is designed to help usher in a neoclassical urban renaissance to Ferguson, Missouri. The residency offers community engagement to facilitate training and development of young creatives and influencers. Through AP’s corporate social responsibility platform, the firm and LIFE Arts engaged five “creative residents” to develop projects designed to bring hope, healing and economic recovery to the region and beyond.
Baird’s Private Wealth Management Foundations program, founded in 2012, is a competitive rotational training program for diverse candidates — most coming from different careers — seeking to become a financial advisor. Through the program, associates network with Baird’s private wealth management teams in branches they would like to stay with in the long term. Once they’re matched with a team, the Foundations associate spends three months at that branch to solidify a permanent placement. Baird’s Foundations program has created more racial, ethnic, age and gender diversity in the firm’s advisor talent pool, which has improved overall advisor productivity.
Raymond James’ Advisor Inclusion Network Symposiums — which include seminars, breakout sessions, chat rooms and presentations — went virtual in 2020 and reached larger audiences than before across U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom in 2020. The 26th-annual Women’s Symposium doubled its size to 1,480 registrants globally, including over 40-plus prospective women advisors; 46 nationwide study groups with 450 women were formed following the event. The seventh-annual Black Financial Advisors Network Symposium quadrupled its number of registrants at about 450 — of which some 50 were prospective Black advisors and 100 were students participating in the event’s career fair.
CHIP (Changing How Individuals Prosper) , a B2B2C financial services marketplace that makes it easy to find Black and Latinx financial professionals, was launched in 2019 by Dana L. Wilson. The goal is to bridge the gap between consumers of financial products and financial professionals of color. CHIP’s focus is to grow generational wealth, as well as build trust for financial professionals in underrepresented communities. In the past 12 months, the firm closed five partnerships, onboarded more than 200 professionals, matched over 180 consumers with professionals, and launched two content series focused on amplifying voices in communities of color.
Dynasty Financial Partners’ Women's Network was established to further the firm’s commitment to the advancement of women in the financial services industry. The network’s first goal is to create an increase in the participation of diverse women in the Dynasty Network and ecosystem within the industry. The second goal is to encourage women in the network to grow in their roles and to recruit more female-led RIAs to increase peer-to-peer interaction and increase diversity in the network. The final goal is to leverage content and research to shatter the stereotype of a women’s network.
Nationwide’s Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE) was the result of a 2020 partnership between Nationwide Financial, financial services organizations and historically Black colleges and universities. FARE’s focus is on increasing the number of Black professionals in the financial services industry and investing in them once there. The initiative will provide resources, training and connections to Black students and professionals. Since forming, FARE partners have committed to connecting students from six HBCUs with FARE member firm internship/career opportunities, producing a “See It, Be It” video series showcasing Black financial professionals in leadership roles and providing mentoring resources to Black financial professionals.
FMG Suite, a technology company, goal is to protect essential human rights. To achieve this, it formed a DEI Council of nine volunteers from the organization. The company set key performance indicators to ensure accountability and measure success. Metrics include employee sentiment, diversity in hiring and diversity in promotions. FMG Suite also formed community groups such as APAC and LGBTQIA. Employees are invited to join these groups and connect with one another, plan activities or simply have a conversation. The company hosts webinars and podcasts to open the dialogue on the disparity of women or people of color in financial services.
The University of Akron, Financial Planning Program, College of Business launched Diversitas to bring students, teachers, guidance counselors, industry professionals and thought leaders in diversity together, nationally, with the goal of attracting more women and people of diverse backgrounds to the financial industry. Started in 2017 as a regional program with Barry Mulholland, Diversitas became national in 2020. Roughly one-third of attendees have been female, non-white or both. The program content includes actions that can be taken by industry professionals to improve diversity, including donating, starting scholarships, guest teaching, mentoring and offering internships. Diversitas also has created scholarships for students in financial planning.