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Trust. Education. Eliminate fear. Build wealth.
These count as some of the main words used at the 16th annual Conference of African American Financial Professionals at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest. This year’s conference, the first time in person since the coronavirus pandemic affected the nation in 2020, attracted its biggest attendance ever with 1,000 people.
This year’s conference, hosted by the American College of Financial Services in the District, would be convened under the theme “Homecoming: Empowering our Legacy.”
Blacks represent less than 10% of the entire financial industry which doesn’t just include investors or finance counselors but also those in the fields of marketing, social media and information technology.
Those numbers decrease when it comes to leadership positions, said Hermon Mason, a regional director with Prudential Advisors in Atlanta.
“When you talk about the financial industry, it is a relationship built on trust,” he said Tuesday, Aug. 9. “It is going to take all of us working together to increase representation so we can continue to build trust in the African-American community so we can get this industry to mirror that community.”
Workshops during the three-day conference (Aug. 8 – 10) included: “Being Black in a White Industry,” “The Future of Wealth: Building Inclusive Client Experiences” and “Black Women in Wealth: Dispelling the Myths.”
Some colorful conversations on Tuesday came from Deborah Owens, the founder and CEO of “WealthyU” who resides in Laurel in Howard County, Maryland. She led a session on retaining and marketing to high-earning women of color.
Owens, known as “America’s Wealth Coach,” categorized some women such as the “rich and retired auntie,” who has retired from the government or a corporation. However, her pension and other investments have failed to keep up the pace of inflation.
One of the questions for her: “How can she create more income and who will take care of her if she becomes ill and needs care?”
Owens insisted attendees will need to become teachers.
“I’m just telling you, if you do this, you will attract your community because you are doing the right thing.,” said Owens, the author of three books. “You are that cheerleader. You are that financial freedom fighter. If we’re not careful, we will have a permanent underclass.”
Broderick Young, a financial planner, wealth manager and co-founder of Reveal Wealth Management in Columbia, Maryland, said most people value their house, 401K and other retirement plans.
He offered advice on what should be a person’s main benefit.
“There is no greater asset on this Earth than you,” said Young, who’s been in the financial industry for 24 years. “When you understand and internalize that and give that to your children and your grandchildren, you will learn a lot about dealing with your money and your health.”
The conference also encouraged attendees to pay closer attention to their own mental health, especially when working long hours with little sleep.
Paul Bashea Williams, owner of Hearts in Mind Consulting who provides counseling and therapy, and Uneeka Jay, CEO of Rewrite 365, provided tips on how to maintain mental stress. Some of them include:
- Schedule a “self-care” day once a week to relax your mind and body.
- Talk with a trained, licensed professional versus your best friend, family member or spiritual leader who doesn’t practice as a mental health therapist or other related professions.
- Become vulnerable in yourself as a way to establish boundaries.
“You were probably taught to hold stuff in and act it out,” said Jay, whose firm assists companies and individuals refocus their vision to improve customer service, diversity and other skills.
“We have been taught to perform as opposed to heal. The only way we can heal is to know where we are,” Jay said.