The Journey of the first African American CFP® Professional

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LeCount R. Davis, Sr., CFP®, is often referred to as the “godfather” of financial planning. He founded the Association of African American Financial Advisors (Quad A) in 2001, and through his time teaching at Howard University, he reached a broad audience of financial planning students. In addition to his heart for service, community growth, and education, LeCount has served hundreds of clients and their family members through financial planning services, reached out to a large audience during his television show days, and continues to give back to the profession even today.

LeCount believes that everything is intertwined and connected in financial planning. During his 40+ years as a financial planner, he’s advocated for diversity, equity, and inclusion both within the profession and beyond. In his words:

“If you’re really concerned about diversity and inclusion, the only thing you can do is give me an opportunity. All those things you have built up in your mind about what I am, and the box you put me in, if you give me a chance to show you what I can do, it can help you - and it can help me. We both benefit from us getting together.”

This episode is truly a celebration of a history maker - LeCount has done so much for this profession and for the world through his dedication to advocacy and service.

What You'll Learn:

  • How and why LeCount R. Davis, Sr. got involved in the DEI movement within the financial planning profession

  • What inspired him to found Quad A

  • What the first Quad A conference looked like

  • How he found his first ally in the profession (and who it was)

  • Different ways he’s focused on advocacy and making an impact during his career

  • His advice to new planners looking to either be an ally, or advocate for marginalized groups inside and outside of the financial planning world

Show Notes:

Episode Transcript

Rianka: 00:00 I am so excited to be bringing you all the godfather of financial planning LeCount Davis. LeCount, welcome to 2050 TrailBlazers.

LeCount: 00:09 Thanks for inviting me to participate in your podcast, Rianka. The pleasure's all mine.

Rianka: 00:14 Thank you so much for taking some time out to come in and chat with us. Chat with the next generation of, of trailblazers, financial advisors. So before we officially kick off season three of 2050 TrailBlazers, I wanted to take the month of February to celebrate Black History Month. And as part of this celebration, I wanted to highlight trailblazers within the financial planning profession, but also outside. And when I started to think about professionals that I wanted to make sure we highlight and celebrate, you, of course the godfather of financial planning. I definitely had to have you on, on 2050 TrailBlazers and I'm happy we can make this happen.

LeCount: 01:03 It sounded like a good idea to me.

Rianka: 01:09 I know. That's right. So the theme of, of this, the theme of, of, you know, this short season here is being, being the first, like history makers and in fact you, you have made history and continue to make history as you know, you were the first African American, CFP or Certified Financial Planner holder and you received your designation, um, back in the seventies, 1978 to be exact. Is that right?

LeCount: 01:44 That's right.

Rianka: 01:45 Wow. And so before we were a profession, I think before comprehensive financial planning was even thought about as a thing because in the seventies it was more so insurance agents, it was, it was more so brokers, so to say, so what gave you this, this thought or insight to say, you know, I want to go after this designation, which today is the gold standard for a financial planner. But back then you was like, you know what? I want to go after this designation and I want to look at families and individuals from a comprehensive standpoint. How did that happen for you?

LeCount: 02:25 While I was trying to reach some type of conclusion or come to some conclusion about why we made decisions financially as far as African Americans are concerned, we never set any goals we never considered the what we call risk tolerance and also time arises. Those are things that just did that exist and where we thought talking without say we, I'm talking about the uh, African American, your mind seemed to drift to all my eyes seem to drift to tax preparation. And also, like you said, selling insurance and also the brokerage business. Well, you shouldn't be doing any of those things without having a goal. Some goals. So when you gonna have goals, you got to start looking at the holistic approach, of wealth building, and as far as wealth building is concerned you because it's, it's all of these things, but even today when you speak to someone about financial planning, their mind automatically goes to investments.

LeCount: 03:28 Investments really are an integral part, a very integral part of financial planning, but it's not financial planning, and people, some people shouldn't even be investing if they haven't set any goals and they don't know where they're going, they'll never get there. So this shouldn't even be investing, but we always think about investing so, so in other words, we have a tendency to, to drift to what we have been told and had been brought up through the ages as to uh, how to be good stewards of God's blessings. And as far as we're concerned, we have been as people that we knew a little bit about real estate and, but we really don't know what real estate planning is. It is, and how you fit the real estate investments into a comprehensive plan that will allow them to accomplish anything. So everything is intertwined and everything is connected when it comes to financial planning.

LeCount: 04:36 I wanted to put all of these pieces together and even my first company that I started came out with the name with LeCount R. Davis and associates. I knew that you had to have more knowledge about your wealth and your finances. Then just preparing a tax return by April 15th and also buying a house. We know about this insurance thing, we had to find out why you should have insurance and some people don't even know why they have insurance that is just as a vehicle to replace the income that will be coming if you were alive. That's basically what insurance is supposed to do. I really never considered insurance for investment purposes. Now I know that's what whole life does, but. But I'm not. I'm drifting away from your question. So in trying to deal with all these issues and connecting the dots, I said that it got to be something better than than what I'm doing now and I was working for a CPA firm, but basically the CPA firm was doing taxes returns because every time they may not know anything about investing but they knew they had to meet the tax man every April 15th.

LeCount: 05:54 So I'd make them do something. Now April 15th is very important to the planner also because you get a chance to get a look at everything that the client is doing and, and you would have ideas of how to structure your financial plan. So again, we go to the comprehensive aspect of financial planning, so we have to do all these things and we had, we have multiple disciplines that we have to deal with in order to do a good comprehensive plan because when it comes to the three phases of your financial journey would be the accumulation stage where you're working and you're making money and uh, and you, uh, you're just started to put some money into savings and to do those kinds of things. That's the accumulation phase. The next phase is the distribution phase when you're now using the money that you have built up during the accumulation phase and the third phase of the transfer phase from one generation to another. So I had to have experts in each one of those phases and I had them all put together when I first started.

Rianka: 07:01 So you had the foresight early on to see what your strengths were and then also to say, all right, who do I need to build around me? So even before you started your business, or maybe this happened simultaneously, it's like, how did you find out about the CFP? The certified financial planner designation,

LeCount: 07:22 Just by research I was trying to find a profession that would do exactly what my mission and my vision called for and putting all the pieces together and to come up with one, one particular goal and objective that I could follow and that I could pass onto my clients. And so when I started looking at reading magazines, I talked to a lot of other people, but then I saw this group called the International Association of Financial Planning and then I looked at what they were doing and what their goals were and I said, this sounds like something that, that mix is really meshed with my goals. Objectives. Maybe I should go to a meeting. So I started. I went to a meeting just to find out what it was all about. And at that meeting I met several people that we'll probably talk about later on in this podcast that convinced me that they had some of the same ideas I had, but still that wasn't going to reach my people.

LeCount: 08:34 I had to find a way how it's going to reach my people, and that was very important to me is because I think a lot of our ills economically and socially stems from the lack of knowledge of finance and we got to solve that problem to solve those other problems that we have to get rid of in order for us to move forward in life. So I ran across Alexandra Armstrong was one of the first persons. She was the president of the IAFP at the time I joined and she for some reason we talk. First of all she welcomed me into the, the, the profession very graciously while others just, uh, I was there, but they didn't recognize me as almost like benign neglect.

Rianka: 09:25 And I think it's important here to share that. Alex, Alexandra Armstrong, she's a white woman.

LeCount: 09:33 Yes she is. She is. And that's why I called her my good Samaritan. Not because she's a white person, but because she did not just pass me by. And see. She saw me standing there at a symposium as if I was a deer in headlights, I didn't know what to do, what to say because I was the only person of color at that symposium, so she welcomed me in and she said that we going to do good things together and she started off by putting me on several committees within the IAFP.

Rianka: 10:09 Wow.

LeCount: 10:10 And and in doing that, I became known to all the other members at IAFP. So when Alex stepped down as president, I had gone from not knowing about financial planning to becoming the president of the, of the DMV, and she was the one who orchestrated all of this. But I had done my homework and I had done the things that I wanted to do to show that I knew what I was talking about and she didn't do it. She, she, she, she was not going to push someone who she didn't feel was capable of handling the presidency, but she brought me on board and no one could say I didn't know what I was talking about because I had been involved with all kinds of committees and they saw what I could do.

Rianka: 10:57 Yes. Wow. And you know, our last season, season two of 2050 TrailBlazers we talked about allyship and, you know, what it means to be an ally and how it's, it's an action. It's what we do in our daily lives to support others. And specifically talking about within the financial planning profession to support, you know, women to support people of color to support the younger professionals, the minorities within this profession. And so Alex Armstrong, you know, was an ally, was, it sounds like was your first ally to you in this profession, which definitely laid the foundation for you, as far as information about learning about the profession. And then, you know, after, you know, you started to get leadership positions because of your volunteerism and, and your willingness and wanting to give back.

LeCount: 11:56 Yes. Another thing that Alex did for me, she wanted me to, when I go to a meeting, and it could be committee meeting, or it could be a big, a big meeting that I should walk in, like I belonged there, that I didn't come there with a hat in my hand, that I was just as qualified as anybody else there. And that engendered confidence in me that, that will, that didn't move forward very comfortably. That I wasn't in a strange. I was in a strange land but, but I was, I was supposed to be there and that help and, but she was only one of those. The second person after I passed the examination by the name of Robert Ginsburg who's a Jewish white Jewish person, and he invited me to a luncheon at the university club in Washington DC at a time where we didn't really. Blacks were not allowed. Oh. It was very strange for them to ever be seen at the university club. He invited me to the club. He said LeCount you passed the examination there. That will get you to the table, but it won't get you anything off the table. The reason for my inviting you to lunch is to show you how to get something off the table,

LeCount: 13:21 and he proceeded to tell me, the nuances of being a financial planner. By the way, Bob Ginsburg was wife, was named Gail Winslow, who was a broker, one of the first women brokers in Washington DC. He was a purple heart retired lieutenant general in the air force. He taught financial planning at the, at the, I think it was at the Air Force Academy. He didn't ask me to come to lunch to get anything from me, but he wanted to give something to me now why he did that, I don't know, but he was a member of the IAFP and he had been a member of some of the committees I was on and evidently I impressed him with the way I handled the profession and the way I was doing things that he wanted to make sure that he could do anything he could to help me. So I have to mention Robert Ginsberg as well as Alexandra Armstrong.

Rianka: 14:17 Yes. Wow. That was so powerful. He invited you to lunch. He said the CFP will get you to the table, but it will not get you anything off the table. That direct insight of the how, wow.

LeCount: 14:37 And some of the things he told me, by the way, I've been, I've done all my professional life.

Rianka: 14:41 So what are some of those things share, I'm sure our listeners want to know.

LeCount: 14:47 Well, one of the things, and I will put a, put a pin in it a minute about what he told me, is that the fact when I came to the meeting dimension, it was a brother who was the doorman, doing his job and he politely says, Sir, are you in the right place? Is this the right address? You sure you, you, you have a meeting here? I said, yes, I'll have a meeting here with Dr Ginsberg. And by the way, he was a PhD out of Harvard too. And the guy said, well, you know, you got to check because I don't know if we can come into the university club

Rianka: 15:28 when you say a brother because you know, we have to demystify term another black gentleman

LeCount: 15:37 Another black gentleman who was just knew that I was in the wrong place. So when Bob, Robert came, I called him Mr Ginsburg, when he came in, I told him what happened and he was at. He was furious. I mean he went, he knew the guy was just doing his job, but he told him that if they didn't show me the same courtesy and give me the same invitations that they give everybody else, he was willing to turn in his membership and that's how much he stood by me. But one of the things, getting back to the technical part, he said, the first thing you have to do is to identify your marketing base. You have to have a marketing base that you can, can depend on. At the beginning of the year, the percentages of your reaching your goal is more than 75, 80 percent of where your money going to come from. That, that, that, that year. That's a January one. That's what I mean by marketing goal. So if you, if you felt that you're going to need, let's say $100,000, uh, to just take care of the fixed expenses of your practice as a base, where would that, hundred thousand dollars come from? And, and who would, who would be in that group that you knew the 80 percent of your money is going to come from that group. You have to identify that base

Rianka: 17:01 as part of these models, or role models that you've had, let's fast forward to 2001 almost 18 years ago. You founded a, a organization called the Association of African American Financial Advisors also known more commonly as Quad A. and so you are the founder of Quad A, and listening to your story, I feel like, you know, just through your experiences, and wanting to help others, this is the reason, one of the reasons why you started it, but I don't want to put words in your mouth. So, so talk to us about that. Like where did this vision come from?

LeCount: 17:45 Again by listening to a couple of people I just mentioned Alex and Bob Ginsberg. I knew that I had the flavor of the industry embedded in my mind because of what they were telling me and showing me while they were nurturing me along and I knew that the industry responded to numbers number one, and by numbers I mean that in order to be recognized you have to come there with some numbers of of people that you represent. It couldn't be a one on one type of thing and I knew that if we didn't have that type of group, put the group together that would be able to approach the industry in certain numbers, not trying to match the numbers that were already outstanding that came before us, but at least have certain numbers that will generate the respect of the industry that we were not gonna make any progress and we being blacks or people of color would never make any progress.

Rianka: 18:48 So in 2001, you founded Quad A and and as you mentioned, you had some models to look at. You know, you were a part of a couple of different organizations and so you kind of had, and you're not only a member, but you were involved, you were on the committees and so you had some fertile learning ground of, of figuring out how to get Quad A off the ground. Here we are 18 years later. What do you hope you know 20 years from now, Quad A will be for the African American community.

LeCount: 19:18 I want them to be considered as a part of the financial services industry just like any other group. And I want people to realize that we have a lot of, a lot to contribute to the, to the profession of financial planning. In order to do that, again, we have to build all build the numbers. We have to also participate when we have to. Every negative that comes out about about us in the industry, we have to have a positive to offset that negative that's out there. Like they don't believe that we have role models and that's why we don't grow as far as the industry is concerned. That's what the industry was saying and I don't buy that because I do have role models and I think each one of us got role models, so I wanted Quad A to be the one like ambassadors to the black financial financial planners out there that could generate the kind of interest and the respect that they deserve.

LeCount: 20:22 They got, their well-educated. They, one time that used to be a problem, but that's not a problem anymore. So I wanted Quad A to be that vehicle that would take us to the, to, to, to, to the point where I think we should be. That couldn't happen all at once across the country. So I had to start where I had the strongest base and my, base was at DMV because I grew up in this area and I grew up, uh, in what I call my village and all. And when something happened that I did, the whole village knew about it. So therefore, if that's the case, then I would have become a drawing, a figure and bringing some people together to, to, to, to form an organization that will then go national. So with the help of of about seven or eight of us got together and we decided to form Quad A and with the idea that we would go national, but it took us some years in order for us to get to the strength.

LeCount: 21:35 In the DMV that for us to go forward to be a national because you had to have a strong structure and you have to have a strong foundation in order for you to do that because you not only increase your opportunities, you also increase your, the people who don't want you to become part of the financial planning profession. So a group of us, and again it was seven or eight of us got together and started and we, we did a lot of good things and we are proud of what we accomplished and during that time I was the only one. It was my companies that underwrote all the expenses of the organization, it came out of my, my firm's pocket. That could not last if we were gonna grow because my pockets were not that deep. In order for us to grow at the pace I wanted us to grow it, we had to spread it out throughout the country and the rest is history. I know you're going to talk about it later on, but you got other people that came after me because I was the first president of the association, but you got a lot of people came after me that did wonders for Quad A and if they had not put in the sweat and tears and blood that they did, Quad A would not be good. It could not have gotten to where it is right in there based on just me.

Rianka: 23:02 Yes. Yes. And 2050 TrailBlazers is, knows Lazetta Braxton, very well, she's been a guest a couple of times on 2050 TrailBlazers. And so when I first learned about Quad A that's when she was president and that was my first introduction to, to Lazetta and yes, she has done phenomenal work, for Quad A. I know in her presidency was when Quad A had the first national conference and I think we kept at home. Did we keep it home? It was in Baltimore, right?

LeCount: 23:40 No, the first one was in Boston.

Rianka: 23:43 It was in Boston. It was in Boston. I remember. So it has taken some time, you know, to, to really go national, but

LeCount: 23:53 Do you want to elaborate on the contribution and the growth of Quad A since Lazetta came on the scene?

Rianka: 24:03 Yeah. Let's talk about that

LeCount: 24:04 The reason why I want to bring that up is because see Quad A is now operating on a level that is. We have gone up several levels. From when we first started. Our mission goals, have never changed but as far as what we have accomplished and what we, you know, how we are growing and the respect is there. When people think about blacks in financial planning, they think about Quad A, that's when Lazetta took over. There was some people and some presidents before Lazetta that helped to maintain or tread water. But when Lazetta came into being, she came, she came in as a recruit of Crystal Cooper, Alpha Cooper. And who was their past past president of the Maryland FPA.

LeCount: 24:57 But she came in and within one or two years had decided where we needed to go and what we had to do and she became just a member and then became president and she has been a tireless worker. She had the fact she has the, the makeup that is necessary for an organization like Quad A to even exist. She, first of all, she comes in when she comes into a meeting, as I said when I got my award in New York, is that you don't say no to her and you got to realize or appreciate the fact that she has a plan and she knows what she wants to do. Even beyond Quad A. She knows what she wants to do and she knows how to get there. So that's the kind of I want. I want the members of Quad A to look at her as an example of what you can do.

LeCount: 26:02 If you stick to your goals, you have goals number one. You stick to your goals, there are going to be tough times, but you gotta be you gotta. You gotta tough it out. As I said before, you know, joy and pain is just like sunshine and rain. You got to first have the ability to withstand the hard times. So we got to have our stuff in order in order for us to transfer that enthusiasm and that optimism and it can't be blind optimism for you to even buy into what we're talking about. Lazetta has all those things that she generates, that kind of. I want to be with her. I want to be like her. I want to do this because she's, she seemed to understand where we should be going and how are we supposed to be doing it. So I like to give a lot of credits to Lazetta

Rianka: 26:52 yes, absolutely. And I know exactly what you're talking about. And it's funny, I was just speaking with her earlier today and was just, we were reminiscing about the when we met and it was, you know, during one of my first, Quad A, meetings I think was back in 2015, 2014, 2015. And as soon as she walked into the room I was like, I want to be around her. I want to learn from her and um, and now it's been mutual love between both of us since then.

LeCount: 27:24 Yeah. Well I see some of the same qualities in you, but I don't want you to be blushing or anything like that, but I see some of the same qualities in you and you don't know. You don't even know how much I appreciate your being involved with the industry because I've never sat down and talked to you in detail about it. But I've been watching you. I've been watching your career and, and, and I like the way you think and you engender the same thing when you walk into a room, you know, I'm here. You got to deal with me one way or the other.

LeCount: 27:59 And that's you know one of the things that, about getting back to Lazetta is that when she received the award, as one of the women to watch, I think investment news called it, she made a statement in her acceptance speech that she can't be bought. She said, I'm just like, Sojourner Truth I mean you don't make those kind of statements, but only a handful of other attendees, African Americans because you are concerned about what other people are thinking and what they're doing. Lazetta was going to get her point across one way or another. And she got the point across. So when it came time for us going national and we had the session in Boston and it looked like we were taking a secondary position, like we are being assistant. We were assisting the FPA and their conference. She said, no, we gotta we gotta build our own identity. So it's not going to be that we're not going to be assisting anybody. We don't have our own conference. So we had Boston. We had Baltimore, we had Chicago and Atlanta. We did it all on our own. We didn't go in concert with the FPA. And that's the kind of ideas that I'm talking about it. And you have to have that type of vision, but you also have to have the type of fortitude to be able to back up that type of vision and she did that.

Rianka: 29:28 She did. So I have a two part question for you. And my first question is if you were sitting in front of a room full of black and brown, aspiring financial advisors, financial planners, what are some of the advice that you will give to them? And I ask this and, and, and what I hope you'll share too is some of the trials and tribulations you had to go through in order to get where you are because my generation, me, I'm able to do what I do because of advisors like you. So I am literally standing on your shoulders because you have lifted up so many others throughout the years. And so now I'm able to do what I do very easily it's not the easiest but more easier then then maybe you would have. So what are some of the advice and maybe lessons that you can share with us?

LeCount: 30:35 Well, a couple of things I can share with you. My talk to new members of Quad A and the first thing I tell them, is that they must be students of their profession. You can never stop learning. But we have to have controlled learning. We can be swallowed up with the changes of titles or phases or passing programs. What we need to concentrate on, again, the marketing base that we're shooting for no matter what they may be, it may be athletes, it may be professional like physicians and dentists. Whatever it is, you need to identify that and you need to then direct your continuing education of the financial world to that particular group. That doesn't mean that you don't pay attention to other groups, but don't use up all your time chasing the rainbow when you could be using that time to build your base so that you can take advantage of the rainbow once you get there.

LeCount: 31:51 The second thing is that we have to do our own planning. We can't. You have to you you gotta practice what you preach. When I look at so many planners out here today or people in the financial services business period. They don't seem to have a, they don't have plans for themselves. They are. You ask them what their goals are and they'll give you answers. Like, my goal is to make more money. Well, I don't consider that a goal. Most people in the financial world wants to make more money, but I'm talking about how you plan to do that. They don't have that so. But that's the first thing that they tell their clients when they go out and say you should have a financial plan, they should have goals. So we need to practice what we preach, and people see what we do and they don't just listen to what we say.

LeCount: 32:45 So if we gonna be tell them to do certain things, they're going to wonder why we are not doing the same thing that we're telling them to do. And then when it comes to helping each other, each one, every each one help one as far as us a mentoring the younger ones take the time to do that. And also we had got to the point now that some of the planners or somebody, even though some of the members are LeCount, I'm tired of giving seminars and and 15 to 20 people show up and, and I see no business coming out of it. I can't do that anymore. What I'm telling you, you're going to have to take some time if your. If your goal is to help the communities, you're going to have to spend some of your time still doing some of that stuff even though you may feel that it's not profitable, but it's been my fortune that everything that I've done in the past could directly relate to my getting better in the end.

LeCount: 33:46 In other words, I've profited from doing the same thing they've been saying they're tired of doing. That's how I got some of my clients. That's how I got some of the base that, that I'm talking about that carried me for 40 years and that's what they going to have to do. And we, we have to get away from that thinking that we're going to start a business today and in two or three years we're going to have a book of 10 or 15 billion dollars just because they know people got books of 10 to 15 billion dollars there. If you're good enough to do, that's fine, but it hasn't been working. So you need to change. I mean you can't keep doing the same thing and coming up with the same results. So you gotta make changes. So you going to say you to do it in incremental stages. So instead of having 10 billion dollars, maybe I'd get a million dollars or 5 million dollars.

LeCount: 34:40 And then next thing you're talking billions of dollars and we got brothers out there and sisters that are doing that. But as a whole we don't have it. Whenever you can mention names of people who have reached a certain level. And this is my talking to the members. There's not enough people out there because if it was enough people out there, you would know all the names. You don't know all the names of the non people of color who are billionaires and millionaires and that shouldn't be your only objective anyway, so I try to get them to instill in them that it's still something at the end of the rainbow and then they will come to you and it came to me. I never would have been introduced to income coming out of South America or the Caribbean. Um, I came in, I grew up in a ghetto. I had never been as far as from Washington to New York to Brooklyn is about the farthest I've been

LeCount: 35:34 My brother was in Brooklyn when I'd play ball and we went to several places and played ball in high school. And then when I went to college I went away to school in Ohio, but the point of the matter is that how did you, how did I get that type of contact? It came from speaking. Oh, at again, community organizations. I had people who I taught at Howard who became my boss in South America. So those kinds of things will work if you handle yourself properly. So you need to do those need, to do those kind of things. Also, we need to, again, do what you practice, what you preach, you gotta have your plan, you gotta have goals and objectives. You've got to have time arises and you will know how much risk do you want to take in being an entrepreneur, whether you think you are entrepreneur or not, it's not going to be easy. There's going to be some down turn. They're going to be some poor days.

Rianka: 36:37 Yes, that's true.

LeCount: 36:38 But we can't just jump out of it because it's hard because it's going to come.

Rianka: 36:44 Yes. I'm entering year four of my business and I'm starting to see, you know, the full rainbow. I saw the beginning when I first started, right? And I was like, there has to be something at the end of this rainbow and I'm starting to see it. And so, but it's year four. Right. And just, just like you said, I can vouch for everything that you said as far as just like, you know, being involved in your community, giving back. Literally being able to manage a team because I volunteered on different boards and different organizations and raised my hand for leadership positions. It has taught me to how to become a good leader and have effective communication and you know, conflict resolution and helping my team members work together and, and all of that. And, and even with in the community though I may not be able to work with everybody, just like you said, you know, one of the ways that I've volunteered in the past was through VITA or the volunteer income tax assistance program where they help low income families and seniors with tax preparation. And so that hand in hand helped me understand tenfold a 1040 and you know, as, as far as tax planning. So thank you. That was fantastic. Fantastic. Awesome advice. And so for, if you were sitting in front of a room full of the majority of the profession who I would like to call our allies, what would you say to them?

LeCount: 38:25 I would tell them. Number one, that we've done, everything that we feel we need to do to convince you all, to convince the public, that we are well qualified, that we can do a lot of things we've done. We've been in the trenches, we know how to reach certain people. I would use a phrase that I use even in New York, is that I would tell them to put me in coach. I'm ready to play. I've done everything I'm supposed to do now try me, you know, taste and see, and if you're really concerned about diversity and inclusion, the only thing you can do is give me an opportunity to do certain things. You can't have any preconceived biases or what they call unconscious biases that he's black. He doesn't know what he's talking about or he's Hispanic and and he, he hasn't had enough experience or you can look at all those things, but until you give that person the to opportunities to what I call the opportunity to fail, you don't know whether he's gonna fail or not because you haven't given him the opportunity.

LeCount: 39:35 So I would be telling them to give me the opportunity. All of those things that you've got built up in your mind about what I am in the box you've put me in, you've never given me a chance. I mean I can't say you never, but if you give me a better chance of showing you that I can do all these things that you're talking about, I can help you grow your business. I can help fill the gap between those leaving the profession there because of age and retirement or because of changing professions. There's a gap being generated right now. We can fill that gap that could help you and it can help me so we both. We both benefit from us getting together and if you look at it as you look at any type of business opportunity you plan ahead and if that's what you're going to do, then you'll say, well, all I want to do is to make it cost effective. If I'm going to put my time and my money into a certain program, all I want to just have a return that is worth the effort that I'm, that I'm putting out and believe me, if you take me I'll assure you that your, the, your reward is going to be greater than your expense.

Rianka: 40:44 Yeah. Some of the, what we've talked about in previous episodes is, especially for, you know, bringing in people who are not normally in, in the profession. So let's talk career changers, right? They may not have the experience, but look for potential. So not every position you can hire for potential, but there are some, there are some entry level positions where you can hire for potential. Know this person may not have experience, but just like you said, LeCount just bet on me, put me in. Coach, let me show you. I have the capability, the aptitude to learn whatever technical that you want me to be able to do. So I think that is some good feedback there.

LeCount: 41:37 One of the things start bringing to mind is that I was approached some years ago by one of the largest banks who had like four or five over 4 trillion dollars of assets under management and they had the branch offices all over the country, probably all out of the country also globally and and I had a young man who had just finished school, very high, top of his class or in the high percentage of his class graduates and he only had 3 million dollars under management, but he had just graduated and he and and and, and but the. But the bank said that at the branch office of this bank, because the person came for St Louis, it was conducted. This meeting said that you got to have at least 5 million dollars book before we would even consider hiring you. And I'm saying, but he just graduated and he has potential. He's done everything. He's passed all your examinations, done all those types of thing.

LeCount: 42:48 And that was he starting off with 3 million dollars and they said that wasn't enough. He could not work for the company. Now, if you're going to do anything about diversity and inclusion, you got to understand they're going to be a lot of us who are not gonna be able to come in with five and six and seven to 8 million dollars to start off with. You've done everything to go from there to the higher numbers, but we don't. It doesn't work that way. Even some of the non people of color didn't do it that way. They didn't come in with books that high but, but just still. That's what they're requiring. If you're serious about hiring or if you're serious about diversity and inclusion, you got to to appreciate what you do. Who you're dealing with and where we're coming from. We have the potential. We have the education.

LeCount: 43:40 Give us a chance to show you that if they're truly interested in diversity and inclusion, they will do that, but if they're not they'll keep on bringing up, you don't got the education there, but you don't have the exposure. You don't have the experience. Why how are you going to get better in nobody hires you? Or if nobody affiliates with you in any capacity at all because there are certain things that you do that you don't have to be hired by the big companies, but you could be under contract with them or they may outsource certain things to you, but if you don't give me an opportunity, you'll never know whether I could do anything. And they picked those things out from people they know, people that grew up with not only just family members but their friends and everybody else. So when the HR people look around and, and, and you know, HR people who you think they're going to, to, to bring to you for consideration. It's just a human nature that they gonna bring you people they feel comfortable with and if they don't know, you would take the time to know you and what you're all about. You're never going to be included in those things. Do we have success in some areas, yes we do. We have some who have risen to that point, but they're not to. They're very few that have been able to get to, to make that giant step.

Rianka: 44:56 Thank you so much for your time today and all that you have shared. This has been a great conversation as we, again, celebrate black history month and talk about history makers. I mean, wow. Just listen to this conversation. So as you look back on your career on your journey, what are some of the ways that you have invested in yourself, either personally or professionally that has supported the growth of you as a person?

LeCount: 45:25 Well, I don't want this to turn into a sermon, but one of the things that when I started at my church, I started a group called the family financial literacy and ministry and I'm the head of it and asked to teach kids we want families to get together. And we're not talking about making millions of dollars. We're talking about being good stewards of the money that you do make, but whether it's 15 or 20 or $30,000 that I've seen that grow to a point where there are several, numerous churches who wants to emulate what we're doing at my church. And it's not so it's just that they never thought of it that way. And we have the young people who are looking at us that they will grow up. They've been people who have graduated from some of the most prestigious Ivy League schools and they become professionals and everything and make far more money then I make, that came out of that.

LeCount: 46:23 And so that's one of the things that have really inspired me to do the, the reach out to the community acts that I do and do things that I do to, to, to accommodate the community. There are people who are. One of the things that I really is this sticks in my mind is my experience in dealing with, uh, the Bahamas and I know that seemed like it's coming out of thin air, but what my experience there taught me a lot of things that allowed me to, to then bring it back to the United States and handle certain things here because I got the opportunity to do certain things there that I never had. I got the opportunity to do in the United States. And that's a deal with pension funds. And, and I'm not going to be specific because I know you're winding up as far as time is concerned, but it started off that financial planning is more than just preparing a plan.

LeCount: 47:25 You've got other things, other aspects of making money and employment in these countries in the United States also then just preparing a plan. For instance, I was the independent investment advisor for two or three large Bahamian pension funds where I oversaw the investment management of Morgan Stanley and other people who are so big that you would never think that they would have somebody like me, a small company like mine overseeing what they're doing, that the experience taught, gave me. If I could do that as far as those, the Big Wall Street firms are concerned and then accepted it. Then I feel that I could do anything and therefore I had a lot to learn and I had a lot to give. So that helped a great deal and the most important thing is to help people and I'm still mentoring everyday and, and, and, and that's important.

LeCount: 48:31 That's because I want to do that's part of my mission, that's part of my vision because I know eventually it's going, I see them now. They, they, they, they're doing things on their own, they're doing things great things and they going to be very successful, but they got to believe it first. So those are the things that I looked at over my life that I have to give a great deal of credit to. And the last thing, and it really should have been in one of the first things is that you may not have known about Aretha Franklin.

Rianka: 49:08 Oh come on godfather I know Aretha Franklin.

LeCount: 49:08 Aretha Franklin Franklin came out with a song called Angel and, and, and, when I was struggling getting started in the financial world, not financial planning but in the financial world, period before I became an accountant, I had called out that I had to find me an angel to fly away with.

LeCount: 49:28 And it came from Aretha's song. And so when I married my wife, Jewel 53 years ago, that was with her help. And again, I didn't, I didn't, I didn't climb that mountain by myself. Without that type of help, I'd never would have made it. I believe that so the most important things in my life is the spiritual side of me and my personal, my personal life, because there was some things that was difficult to to do and we're saying these people helped me, all these people came that I mentioned my models and my. Some of my peers, they all helped me, including a one called Mr Payne, who was the guru of the neighborhood financial guru of the neighborhood. He was the one that told me to go to accounting school. He was the one that helped the whole neighborhood and didn't charge anything and he didn't lend money. He wasn't a money maker like that. He just helped people and I saw all the faces of those people when they left his office and I was working there as a like a file clerk. When I left there, I saw when they left the office I saw how they felt about him. Like he was almost like God to them because they knew that he had his back. So I said, I want to be like that. So that's it,

Rianka: 50:58 Well thank you, LeCount. And I have, I've met Mrs Davids in person and she is definitely a jewel, so her name is very fitting and we appreciate her and all of the support that she has given you over the years and thank you for everything that you have done for our profession and being one of our models being our godfather of financial planning. So thank you so much, LeCount.

LeCount: 51:24 You're welcome. Thanks for the opportunity of me pontificating or being able to tell you some of the things that, by the way, I'm putting it into a book. I'm doing autobiography and it's coming out, but all of this we talked about, you just got a good glimpse of what's going to be in the book. Rianka: 51:43 Alright now, so part two via the book. Well, thank you so much, LeCount.