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Kristi Martin Rodriguez

Practice Management > Diversity and Inclusion

Racial Equity Groups Team Up to Recruit Diverse Talent to Financial Services

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What You Need to Know

  • FARE and HBCU Connect held a hybrid hiring event to recruit top diverse talent to FARE member firms.
  • FARE member firms include Advisor Group, Franklin Templeton, Nationwide and RBC Wealth Management, who funded the event.
  • Two events similar to the one held last month are being planned for next year.

The Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Connect recently held a hybrid in-person/virtual hiring event intended to recruit top diverse talent to FARE member firms including Advisor Group, Franklin Templeton, Nationwide and RBC Wealth Management, who funded the event.

“Many financial services companies across the country recognize the need to attract a more diverse workforce to ensure they have the top talent, have a more inclusive perspective, and the resources to better meet the needs of underserved communities,” according to FARE.

“One challenge has been that many Black or diverse students struggle to see themselves entering an industry that’s historically been led by white C-suite executives with limited exposure in communities of color,” the organization said just ahead of the Oct. 19 event, called “Finding your Fit in Financial Services: Learn, Connect, Network,” in Columbus, Ohio.

FARE decided to take a “different path to engage Black and diverse students to help them see the incredible opportunities the financial services industry has to offer,” it noted.

The focus of the event was for students to learn about financial wellness and how they could join FARE firms in their mission to increase and empower Black and diverse representation in financial services.

Students also received personalized tips to enhance their resumes and LinkedIn profiles and had the opportunity to interview with FARE member firms for internships and available full-time positions.

FARE sponsored travel for 50 HBCU students, including 20 from across the U.S. and 30 from other local universities so they could attend in person, while virtual interaction was made available to HBCU students across the country. More than 350 students had registered to attend the event, including about 60 attending in person.

‘Together We’re Stronger’

FARE was started in September 2020 with the mission of “Together We’re Stronger,” Suzanne Siracuse, CEO and founder of Suzanne Siracuse Consulting Services, told ThinkAdvisor in a recent online briefing held after the hiring event.

“We were hoping it would be in person,” but the COVID-19 pandemic led them to hold it in a hybrid format, she noted. About 16 students attended from local universities, more than 30 students attended in person and another 60 participated during the live stream, she said.

In promoting the event, however, the organizations asked for students to send their resumes and received about 700, she added.

“We knew if we were going to have the impact and the numbers that Suzanne just shared, we had to do this together,” Kristi Martin Rodriguez, senior vice president, Nationwide Retirement Institute, told ThinkAdvisor during the same briefing.

“We are in a position where there is not a lot of Black financial professionals, and what we often find in our firms is there’s competition in terms of swapping talent. And we knew with this type of event, creating a sustainable pipeline is really how we’re going to solve [the challenge],” Rodriguez said.

Not Just One Path

In addition to making the financial services sector more representative of the U.S. population, including Gen Z, another goal is to close the wealth gap, Rodriguez noted.

Reflecting back to when she graduated from college in the 1990s, Rodriguez said “there was only one track in financial services.” She explained: “When I majored in finance, it was like you have to go in investment banking and, as a young woman, I did not want to work 27 hours in a day — I know I’m exaggerating. But I just saw that was the only opportunity. No one told me [there were other options].”

“One of the things that I was really moved by was the other corporations that would traditionally be our competitors” collaborating on the event, Shareen Luze, head of Culture and Field Experience at RBC Wealth Management–U.S., told ThinkAdvisor.

Luze spoke with one student at the event who was interested in joining her firm on Dec. 11, after graduating from college, and interviews were already scheduled, she said.

Additionally, she pointed out that none of the first six students she met had a traditional financial background but instead had backgrounds in fields like computer science and marketing.

Valencia Gabay, program director of Financial Education and Wellbeing at the American College of Financial Services, said she was able to share with students at the event the “importance of making financial wellness part of their everyday practices and how this is layered into everything that they’re doing.”

Future Plans

“FARE is beginning to plan two events next year that will be similar to the one held last month,” according to Mike Switzer, senior communications consultant for Nationwide.

“The first one is likely to be in the March timeframe and the second one in the fall,” he told ThinkAdvisor on Wednesday. “Details for the events are still being finalized — including a potential partnership with HBCU Connect.”

(Pictured: Kristi Martin Rodriguez, SVP, Nationwide Retirement Institute, Nationwide)