S01 EP01: Attracting Diverse Talent and Growing the Financial Planning Profession

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Cy Richardson knows that the financial planning sector isn’t the only industry seeking young, talented professionals. He also knows that financial planning offers an outlet for people who genuinely want to do good and touch the lives of others.

The financial planning profession is on a path to not only recruit and retain amazing, diverse talent from the generations to come - but to serve amazing, diverse clientele. We need to keep moving forward with these initiatives!

Cy is involved with several organizations within the industry and outside of financial planning that promote human rights and diversity. From the National Urban League to the CFP Board’s new Diversity Advisory Group, he is helping to spark conversations and change. These changes will certainly impact current practicing planners. More importantly, though, they’ll have an impact on the planners who will follow in our footsteps to make this industry even more incredible than it already is.

In this episode, we’ll be discussing what kinds of diversity and inclusion practices current financial planners need to be incorporating into their practices. We’ll also be discussing what changes need to happen now in order for a more diverse future clientele to be served (and served well) by the financial planning community.


What You'll Learn:

  • What’s going on within the industry to promote diversity and inclusion.

  • How you can get involved.

  • Different ways you can start these conversations in your financial planning role.

  • Why this industry is so important, and why it’s even more important that we learn to better serve racially diverse clients and promote generational wealth.

  • What woke CFP®s can do to build a conversation within this community.

  • How we, as planners, can promote knowledge sharing and positive financial decision making in racially diverse groups.

  • What kind of cultural awareness and sensitivity training we need to start implementing to work across culture lines as planners.


Show Notes:

Episode Transcript

Rianka: 00:01 Cy, thank you so much for joining me today.

Cy: 00:03 Sure. Thanks for having me.

Rianka: 00:04 Absolutely. I'm so excited to, um, to just speak with you, to converse with you because for the listeners, if, if you all have not seen Cy Richardson in action, uh, as far as being onstage and speaking about what we're about to speak on, you're in for a treat. Cy, he speaks with so much passion and charisma and just very passionate about this topic. So you are the perfect person to kind of set the foundation for episode one of 2050Trailblazers.

Cy: 00:42 Glad to be here.

Rianka: 00:43 Thank you so much. So say we initially met back in November of 2015 when the Center for Financial Planning just launched. I was on a panel with you, Kate Healy and Weisberg and we're just talking about the center. Um, and so for those who don't know, the Center for Financial Planning, uh, it has a three components to it. There is the workforce development, there's the academic home and body of knowledge. And then there's diversity. And so Cy, you're actually the chair of the, of the

Cy: 00:43 Diversity Advisory Group

Rianka: 01:27 of the Diversity Advisory Group and amongst the many hats that you wear, including this one, you're also on the executive leadership of the National Urban League. So talk to me about that.

Cy: 01:37 I've been with the league, 17 years, so I'm a veteran. I'm a veteran. I'm bruised, battered and scarred of the kind of civil rights of wars and battles going on in the country. Um, you know, the National Urban League is a historic civil rights than urban advocacy organization committed to really elevating the standard of living and highly underserved urban communities through economic empowerment. And so the touchstone of the work of the Center of Financial Planning, Rianka, was really around helping them understand and the tangle, the need to diversify and match the kind of demographic change that the country we're going through around two main pillars. One was to ensure that every American has access to competent and ethical financial planning advice. And then as a part of that, the mission is really to create a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession. And so along the, you know, on the journey and understanding those objectives, it was revelatory to me, the degree to which and the distance we have to travel to reach parity or equity for African Americans, Latinos and other kinds of, um, ethnic groups in terms of participation in this profession.

Cy: 02:50 And that's what kind of, you know, kind of lured me into the challenge because again, we're talking about economic empowerment and parity and equity. Um, the, the, the distance behind that, the African American community finds that it's in, is disturbing. And I think, um, as our colleagues in the financial planning space were extremely, um, deliberative and thoughtful around, um, how do you introduce diversity and inclusion to the space? I think they need help quite frankly, that they need help from people like yourself. They needed help from organizations like mine. Um, and I think only collectively will we be able to really grow the number of both female CFP professionals and the number of African American and Latino CFP professionals. Um, by what is not an insignificant percent change. I think this could be a game changer and I'm just glad to be part of what is a Herculean effort to diversify this profession, this space. The sector.

Rianka: 03:49 Yes, yes. Cy, you hit on a couple of things. Um, and definitely one is the wealth gap, which I am notating here and it's something that we'll definitely discuss, and the importance of why it's so important to just kind of bring a diverse, uh, set of professionals, um, under the CFP umbrella. But first, uh, you know, again to kind of share the lay of the land as far as the foundation of, of certified financial planners for, for the listeners who may not know what is a certified financial planner, uh, it basically consists of four E's that you have to have to call yourself a CFP or a certified financial planner. One is that you have to have the education, uh, and um, there are courses that you have to take. You can take this at a four year institution or you can, ah, for the career changers or someone who wants to take it after you graduate.

Rianka: 04:48 There's, just programs across the country, even online. Then there is the exam, when I took the exam, I can, I can say back in my day Cy, but back in my day, it was a two day, 10 hour exam. Now it's, it's one day, six hours, it's still as rigorous, but um, as you learn what we do as CFPs and as financial planners, you want it this rigorous because you just don't want anyone handling your money. So that's the exam and then the experience. So you have to have three years of experience in order to be able to use the designation. And then the last is ethics, like we are, um, we have to adhere to a certain level of ethics. Um, just like with any other profession, doctors, you have to take the boards, lawyers, you have to take, um, you know, the bar exam and for a CFP you have to pass this exam in order to call yourself a CFP. So that's what a CFP is. And so, um, to date there's 80,000 CFP is in the United States, right? Right. There's 80,000. So there's room for growth for sure. And then, um, you know, the, the Center for Financial Planning, they just shared a press release with us, which is something I'll include in the show notes, is that out of the 80,000 CFPs, uh, based on self reported data, there are roughly 1200 African American and 1500 Latinos or Hispanic CFP professionals.

Cy: 06:38 It's incredible, really, when you think about that, right? Just the aggregate numbers and the market potential and we talk about 80,000 CFPs serving a, a country, a existing, a country of some 300,000,000 folks that, you know, with a country that's growing on per annum every year, particularly in communities of color. I think that represents the market opportunity, which is why the center is, you know, kind of pursuing, I'll match your E's. With the four A's but the have the four A's, strategic A's. One is around, and again, you and I both subscribe to these initiatives, but the first A is kind of growing awareness of the CFP professional certifications as, as, um, as you said, as the recognized standard for competent and ethical financial planners. So the CFP certification, everyone knows, I think someone's uncle or cousin or friend who will give you financial advice, but the difference is for the kind of certification and the standards through which that advice is imparted, it's important that we support the CFP designation as the, the go to standard for that work.

Cy: 07:39 So that's the awareness is, is A one, A two is to your point, expanding access to competent and ethical financial planning by increasing the number of diverse CFP professionals you walk the walk, you embody that data point, but we need to find kind of, um, you know, tens of thousands more Riankas because that's the distance that we're behind. The third A is a, is around, uh, surely accountability to your, again, to your point, by holding CFP professionals to rigorous standards and by advocating for fiduciary advice, which is recognition of financial planning as a profession and the effective regulation of planners. So it was a public policy dimension to this. And the fourth A really is around, um, being the, the authority for the profession and being associated with the Center for Financial Planning and setting it up as the gold standard for, for um, bringing people into the profession. I think that is the best scalable way to, um, reach the numbers we're trying to reach. Um, I think there's no monopoly on trying to expose people to this profession, but I do think the center through those four A's and also using those four E's you talked about is the right place to, um, identify talent and grow it within the profession. So I feel good. I'm associated this work.

Rianka: 08:56 Yes. And thank you so much, Cy. And you know, as I mentioned before, uh, you know, the center was formed back in 2015 and since then, uh, has grown and as far as foundation wise and as I mentioned earlier, that you are the Chair of the Diversity Advisory Group. And why did you say yes with the many things that Cy has on his plate? You know, we just had a meeting a couple of weeks ago and you literally ran from our meeting down to Capitol Hill to, to fight, you know, for, for just basic civil rights on top of everything that you have to do, why did you say yes to this?

Cy: 09:44 Well, I appreciate that very simple question, but there's some complex answers behind it. But I'll say this, I am a, a warrior on behalf of other people and I was, as I understood the data points and spoke to people in the professions such as yourself in the identification of the key barriers to entry. There's something, you know, um, sour around blocks to entry for professions or blocks for entry to the middle class for example. Um, and I think, you know, the fact that there are certain communities in this country, um, who, um, are steered towards professionals and financial identities that suit the prevailing narrative around how they contribute to Americana. You know, it was, it did not sit well with me that we have, again, the Alpha, the Omega to America in the 20 First Century is the ability to kind of build skills, grow skills, and build wealth intergenerationally. Your professional obviously helps the decision making that supports those goals and that ethos.

Cy: 10:51 But again, far too many communities of color, households of color are not able to even have the conversation, not even able to think beyond their own generation. Um, because the notion of wealth building, the notion of kind of, um, economic empowerment, financial inclusion, financial capability are concepts that are, that are, um, in many ways foreign to some of the communities, individuals that we work with. And so there's something wrong with that. And so just like we have kind of Rosetta Stone and these new, these new, um, you know, tech technologies to help people learn new languages, for example. Right? You know, I felt as if it's the language of money, the language of numbers which has so much explanatory power in the lives of Americans. Why cannot African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans also not have the luxury of having those kinds of intentional introspective conversations through the guided advice of a certified planner who matches their, their characteristics, their sensibilities and their experiences.

Cy: 11:55 I really think that is to me, um, around fairness, access, equity, and again, I am at my organization is always interested in where those fights reside. In many cases, they're not in the public spotlight they're behind the scenes and the shadows and for many years the, the, um, the demographic gap within the certified financial planning space was understood in the shadows. And I just appreciate the whole sector coming out of the shadows because they need help. That's an existential crisis that you've helped me see that the, the profession is pale, male, and stale. Right? And so in many cases we have to have strategies to diversify our gender, to diversify race and to diversify age because that is what creates the business case for diversity. And my organization likes to be associated with that kind of intentionality.

Rianka: 12:53 Yes. And Cy, what is your response, or what do you say to people, and, and, and this is something I'm asking most of my guests is that when we talk about this, when we talk about race, when we talk about culture or just becoming aware or woke to really what is going on and the stats and the facts, like these are true, you're not making anything up Cy, but these are the facts and sometimes the facts can scare us in and, and for some communities can feel threatened by it. So by you saying, you know, our profession is male, pale and stale that can flare up some other professionals. What do you say to that?

Cy: 13:41 Well, I mean, I think obviously this sector is not the only one suffering from being in the wrong end, or, or, or being asleep during, um, kind of demographic restructuring that the country's been going through in the post-war period. So in many cases there are other sectors as well. But again, you and I have talked about, I mean, for example, you are, um, you know, a CFP, but there are a number of professions, um, that would have benefited from your skill set Rianka, right? I mean, you could've been a doctor, a lawyer, you could have been a marketing executive, you can run a non-profit organization, you can be a civil rights, um, spokesperson, an author. You are many of those things. But the point is what is spectacular, spectacularly special about the CFP profession such that talented young people of color will be drawn to it.

Cy: 14:29 And what ripple effect does that have on other sectors, on other parts of our economy? I think I appreciate, um, some of the young people I've spoken to like yourself and some of the people at the Center around understanding the implication for this aggressive moon shot that they're, that they're launching here. And I've found that, that they are, um, the messaging they've invested in is strong. However, they're not the only ones messaging to this population. Again, I think there are other sectors that are similarly pale, male, and stale. So they're competing for a very limited pool of professionals with other sectors that are similarly kind of hot and sexy as it were and I think, you know, the CFP folks have to understand, you need to find the right language and the right experiences to, uh, to awaken people to this profession. Let them know what it takes to prepare to be successful in it.

Cy: 15:18 And then also if they could pay it forward, each one teach one, and that's the only way you're going to really, in a scalable way, bring in the kind of exponential number of new CFPs to move the dial in five years or 10 years, which is what the Center wants to do. And so your question about, um, uh, around awakening. And I think there's two dimensions to that. One, it's a personal awakening on the part of young individuals like yourself. But I think it's about community as well. I've heard you oftentimes talk about your, you being drawn to this profession because you can do both good and well. And I think that is, that is a message that will resonate with the millennials, would, will resonate with mid career professionals, but we need to understand that, that the financial planning space is not the only sector that is aggressively seeking these people.

Cy: 16:07 And what does it do? How do you find them, how do you turn their heads, how do you onboard them in a mid-career way? How do you onboard them, um, in a post-secondary and post-secondary educational model? So I just appreciate being able to grapple with all these things and being able to kind of talk to people who have real life experience like yourself because again, if we do nothing, the profession will really struggle through retirement, through lack of succession planning and whole swaths of the country will not be able to be exposed to that kind of, um, good advice and guidance that is required to compete today as a consumer.

Rianka: 16:42 The reason why it's really important for us, this profession, to start looking like the communities that we serve is because we will start to impact our community. And what I mean by that is, like, for me, I'll take myself, for example, what I learned in, in, in the firms I worked for and the organizations I worked for, it didn't stay with just me. Anything that I learned, I took back to my friends, I started a blog, I took it back to my family, um, to my own household. And now we're able to build wealth. There was no when my grandmother passed away, uh, almost five years ago now, there was, there was no generational wealth passed on to me. So it's my responsibility as a first generation college graduate, as a first generation coming into wealth to be able to pass that on. But we can't do that without the knowledge.

Rianka: 17:41 And that's what's so important about this, the, you know, just a career path of a financial planner is that you're not only making, impacting your own life, but also in your clients' lives and their families, it's a true ripple effect. And it brings me to something that I'm sure you heard of, Cy, which is the road to zero wealth. This is real. Um, and, and for those who may not know what the road to zero wealth is, again, I'll make sure I'll put this in in the show notes as well, but it's a study that was done by Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies on how the racial wealth divide is hollowing out America's middle class and basically I think it was by the year 2053, the African American, just wealth or net worth will be zero.

Cy: 18:39 Yeah, I'm really concerned about that. Economic insecurity and financial instability plague a growing number of Americans. And I think, you know, this is at odds with the objectives that you and I are talking about. Um, because as you talked about kind of the transfer of knowledge and kind of paying it forward, you know, in many cases, right? I mean, you, you well not in many cases, in all cases, you can't choose your parents as they say, right? And so not everyone is starting from the same starting point. And so we have to be able to have messaging and the activations that open, the eyes of communities to what their, their rightful place in, in modern American society is. And again, all of us have a lot of differences between us, but I think the one thing we have in America today that binds us together is that we're all consumers, seeing that way and market in capital society, um, products are marketed to us and we are empowered to, um, with our economic decision making.

Cy: 19:34 But as that, as that decision-making rubric becomes so much more complex. And so kind of laden with technology, um, and again, insecurity. Um, there in, I think it's incumbent upon those with knowledge that are also generous and thoughtful and sharing, such as yourself, and your view of what the profession can be. I think that's, we don't just need technical professionals. We need professionals who have both technical acumen, but the soft skills that make people reach the point of vulnerability and openness to receive guidance, to receive advice. There's a lot of, um, kind of, um, behavioral economics here, Rianka. It's not just create more CFPs, they get them, you know, it's going to be, um, you know, a Shangri-la. No, this is about consumer supply and demand and I think, you know, you can create a CFPs, but the pool of clients needs to be prepped and prepared to be able to match tomorrow's, you know, professional relationships with these new CFPs that we're generating.

Cy: 20:36 So again, there are numbers, a number of ripple effects to your point, but I think the overarching objective is to be able to understand economic insecurity and to be able to promote financial stability through the proffer of good advice. And again, that to me we can over-complicate things, but the elegance and simplicity of the profession is just that, I mean, White America has been benefiting from the financial planning profession, um, um, since, since inception. Right? But I think it's really in the post-war period that communities of color had been able to tap into what was first called financial coaching. And again, someone knew someone who knew something about the markets or they've read something. So again, social capital formation is important and communities of color actually have excellent social capital in terms of the knowledge and connections to your point. We need to kind of monetize those.

Cy: 21:30 We need to organize those so that we're not left behind in this new economy, which is all about knowledge, all about access to information and all about, um, access to those vehicles and instruments that can build wealth intergenerationally. And again, I am excited to be working with you and others on this project, but in many cases I'm also bears on this question because power, I'm an access does not give itself up. It has to be taken, an access sometimes aggressively. And again, that's um, a dimension to the CFP's work as well is to kind of be a disruptive force in these communities which brings knowledge and knowledge brings power. Power brings parody. Is White America ready for that? It's a little bit of a provocative question. Quite frankly, what would America look like if everyone, everyone had access to the same knowledge, experienced professionals, and capabilities? What would it come through like that look like? I'm not sure.

Rianka: 22:25 Beautiful. America in and of itself is to me a beautiful melting pot. Yeah. We have so many different cultures. We have so many different races, ethnicities, um, and it's going to continue to blend and blend and blend. And um, to me personally, how I feel is that if our profession, and it was very similar to what you've been saying, Cy, that if our profession is going to continue to grow and thrive, there has to be professionals more and more professionals who looked like what America is looking like today and what America will look like in the future.

Cy: 23:17 I think that's right. I think there's no need to overcomplicate the objective. I think that is, um, the kind of parody that we're talking about and it makes good business sense, obviously, and there's some ethics in there, obviously, and it's a lot of it is the right thing to do, but I think again, you and I met under the conditions of let's put some intentionality to that question. I think we suspect what will the answer is, but let's truly know what the answer is, and know the pathway forward. And again, I'm just appreciative to be associated with a whole sector of colleagues who are grappling with that, that kind of existential question.

Rianka: 23:46 Cy, what do you say or, or, or what suggestions do you give? So you, I mean, it's been talked about. I mean, me as a person of color, I, will always help my community. It, I will always help my community. I will help all communities. Um, but my community specifically calls on me for me to help them and I will always make myself available. Out of the 80,000 CFPs, uh, about three point five percent are of color. They're Hispanic, Latinos. What, what do we say to the rest of the CFPs? Um, because it's not too many of us to be doing all of this work, so what suggestions can we give for those CFPs who are just like, "Hey, listen, I'm woke, I hear you. So what can I do to help?"

Rianka: 24:48 Yeah, and I do think, and you embody it, but it's around building and building upon this ethos of volunteerism and kind of giving back as you talk about to our, to our community. I mean that's one of the things the Urban League does; it kind of works to close the equality gap for people at all economic levels and stages of life, but also, um, gives citizens a chance to give back as volunteers and you're doing it on your own time through your own initiative. But I do think those young CFPs not even young CFPs, but those with kind of younger sensibilities were not afraid of change, not afraid of, of, of the Other, people who are different. Um, I think the challenge is to create this campaign to evangelize a movement where you can, as I mentioned earlier, and again, if you embody it, you know, seeking fulfillment in a profession where you can do well.

Cy: 25:36 I've seen the I Am a CFP Pro campaign, one of the vignettes in there, you know, follows your story and a day in your life. And, you know, one of the things that strikes me is that again, you're in a profession where you were doing well, clearly, as a young professional woman, um, and also doing um good, um, in terms of giving back to your community and the relationships that you are nurturing and the confidence that you are imparting. Those things are not, um, are not, um, you know, kind of in conflict with one another. But there are very few professions where you can actually satisfy both of those needs. This is one of them. And again it means even more when you can do that along gender lines along racial lines and be unapologetic about it. And I really appreciate that because we have a lot of wealth leaving our communities with a little bit better decision making with a little bit better guidance with different kinds of facilities and vehicles, that wealth and that capital can remain in the black community.

Cy: 26:33 Recycle. And we can do some real economic development. But it does start with access information and decision making. And I think this is the kind of, if I say the Alpha and the Omega of this question, it begins with knowledge and then the, the, the decision making based on the assessment and analysis of that knowledge. And again, um, it seems to me that White America just takes that for granted, those transactions. But again, there are certain communities that you and I are aware of that that is, um, unchartered territory. Again, we're racing to be able to prepare them for what I say again, is a very competitive consumer landscape in twenty-first century America.

Rianka: 27:10 So Cy, there are so many, just so many questions I have now from what you just shared with us. And one piece of it is around just information, knowledge sharing. Uh, one of the things that I don't know if we'll really get a chance to talk about during this conversation, um, is, is the, the trustworthiness, and understanding from a cultural perspective that in order to work with certain communities that you haven't worked with before, especially if you want to work with them on just professionally, like within your firms but also on a volunteer basis, is that there needs to be a little bit of cultural awareness, um, you know, to, to happen. And, and honestly just a little bit of sensitivity training, just just like you said, where White America, you know, they, they take for granted a lot of knowledge, um, financial knowledge that has been passed down from generation or even if you're a first-generation college graduate yourself, just a lot of information has just been passed down.

Rianka: 28:16 Whereas again, um, if we're looking at the statistics here by 2053 for African Americans, um, the net worth will be zero and it's going to continue to decline and has been declining since the two, since the early two thousands. Our communities, they need help and we can't. We, as an African Americans, Hispanics, we can't do it all ourself. And so we're asking everyone else to help. So how do you, does the National Urban League have any sort of training culture training that um, maybe some financial planners can tap into so that they can help because there are, you know, uh, you know, CFPs who reach out to me like, listen, Rianka, I hear you. I want to help, but how?

Cy: 29:05 As we unpack the strategies for how we're going to reach these aggressive goals to turn around a sector, I think that's where the kind of granular conversation has to occur. Um, I think most segments agree on strategies for boosting diversity and when you and I've talked about some of um, formal, informal mentoring programs, opportunities and the Urban League does, um, provide mentoring opportunities for professionals for young professionals. We've also, um, have programs that introduce various professions, including this one to students earlier in the education path. We also have, um, um, platforms that boost awareness of, of various sectors, and careers or professions, again, all towards feeling in and operationalizing what diversity and inclusion means and bringing more diversity hiring programs to firms, which is something that I've learned in this process. So we've talked about the prospects for bringing people into the profession, Rianka, and again, we've talked about, again, using vignettes and stories like your own and Justin's and others.

Cy: 30:04 It's around know financial planning can be a highly satisfying career that allows one to, to help people achieve their goals and address financial challenges and to your point, offers an opportunity to give back to one's own community. But what about the, um, kind of demand? What are firms doing? Again, you have opened my eyes to this cause, the, you know, firms come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes and sensibilities and values and, and there are different structures for how you can be a professional CFP, but again, I think financial planners of color really will have an advantage. At least that's the theory, right? Will have an advantage attracting the growing population of all financial planning clients of color because it's been more of us. But again, the notion is the firms have to align these new prospects with business models that allow them to kind of build books of business based upon that kind of shared racial fate.

Cy: 30:54 If they don't do that, um, then it'll just be, um, you know, kind of a drop in the bucket. I think the business practices of firms have to match the aggressive, you know, kind of DNI conversation we're having here. And again, I'm still learning about this. There's some best practice actors in the field and there are probably some actors who are more status quo and go, go along, get along, but you know, catch as catch can. And I do think that there will begin to be daylight within this space in terms of best practice firms and institutions that really put their money where their mouth is around DNI. And I'm hoping you can help kind of evangelize who those good actors are and also bring spotlights. So the full sector full stop, um, can take some guidance. And, and, and move the dial because again, as you say, you know, um, you know, this, this is, this is, um, a major proposition here and again, if we do nothing, I guess organically you'll get your CFP Pros like you study in college to get the degree, you know, find a pathway that's clear to them.

Cy: 31:52 But again, as I say with a, with an increasingly complex world with other sectors competing for smart young talent, I think this space will have to be super aggressive around pitching this is what the profession is, but also this is how the, the, the guard rails we'll put in place, the safe harbors we'll put in place to ensure once you're in the profession that you will be fulfilled and be able to do, um, some, some of the community based economic empowerment that you want to do. So again, it's not just on the prospect side, on the kind of supply side, the demand side has to move as well.

Rianka: 32:23 Yes, yes. And again, so much to unpack there. So for the listeners who may not know what a financial planner is, like I, I define what is a CFP. But um, just like you said, just to awareness or the awareness or dispelling some of the myths of what a financial advisor or financial planner is, I just want to take a moment. We'll tag this as an educational moment of the different routes you can take as a career path. So again, you could put me in front of a group of 10 or a group of a thousand. I will tell them how passionate I am about what I do, the tangible impacts that I make in my clients' lives and I hope 50 percent will just change their careers and come over to financial planning because just, just like you said, it's, it's so rewarding. It, uh, you can also, you can make a good living from a financial standpoint, but you can also make a good life.

Rianka: 33:29 And what I mean by that is touching people's lives. So a lot of people just only know of the broker-dealer route of a financial planner. And I don't want to, I have to name institutions, it's only because, so they can understand what I'm talking about. So the broker-dealer, route of what I'm saying is like if you go the financial advisor route in the broker-dealer world, it's the Edward Jones is the Morgan Stanleys, the Northwestern Mutual's and that's, the broker-dealer route. Um, and typically in, this is something that we're studying, case studies and stuff on, the Diversity Advisory Group, is compensation and uh, you know, especially if you're trying to attract professionals of color and just again, the wealth disparity and some of the debt, etcetera, etcetera. We can't live off of commission. Um, and so we're a eat what you kill society, uh, for what financial advisors worked many years ago is not working today. My generation specifically has the most student loan debt than our predecessor generations.

Rianka: 34:36 Like we are so much in debt. Um, and so we can't come right out of school and you tell me I have to just sell products. Um, and it just doesn't work. Broker-dealers are learning that. And so they have a mix where now it's salary, it's, um, commission. They have really great training programs. Um, and so that's one route you can take. But that's the, that's the most known route to take. So when I say I'm a financial advisor, it's oh, who you work for, and they start naming these institutions, I'm like, actually, no, I'll work for a small boutique firm. So if you think of, I mean, there are so many career paths, so don't just hold me to the, two, um, sharing right here today. But there are so many career paths you can take, um, from a technology standpoint, from a backend standpoint, from an operational standpoint, again, that I'm only sharing these two general, broker-dealer route or the RIA route or the registered investment advisory route.

Rianka: 35:42 And this is where you work with small boutique firms who, a big firm is considered 15 people. And so that's, uh, you know, the size firm that I worked for when I first graduated. And um, I had a salary. My, the, my responsibility for the first two to three years of me working for that firm, was to learn. My responsibility was to be a sponge and ask questions. Uh, and so I was able to learn so much. Um, so, but again, that is another story for another day. So for those who are listening, who are saying, is this, is this a career path for me? Absolutely. Uh, another misconception is that it's all about numbers, numbers are involved, but being a financial planner is all about relationship building. It is about learning your client. So that's why culture is very important. Working with a, for example, a African client, um, and understanding that the eldest son is typically responsible for the parents.

Rianka: 36:57 And so if you have a couple where, um, you know, you see a line item on the budget, that may say parents and it's a couple thousand dollars per month. You as a financial planner needs to understand from a culture perspective that line item is not going away, you and for you to bring that up, maybe a little offensive and even and even let's take a different culture from, in the Asian culture. In the Hispanic culture, there's so many different nuances that we need to become culturally aware so that we can be able to serve our clients best.

Cy: 37:36 I think that's really smart, Rianka, because even in the, in the native born African American tradition, you will have non-traditional household formation. You have three generations in one household, and the obligation of, of, you know, um, you know, any member of any member of the household may not necessarily fit traditional mainstream American values in terms of the patriarchal male dominant of the house. You could have a female head of household, right? Multiple females in a household, females as we're learning through the wind study, um, deal with approach will have different sensibilities to money, different insecurity, different opportunities. And so a planner who understands the contextual forces at work and has more than just a cookie cutter approach to, to the consumers and building relationships and making people feel comfortable. I think that is a particular skill set for, for um, communities of color for planners of color because we had to do it our whole lives, make ourselves comfortable in majority settings, in making other minority folks feel comfortable in majority settings, seeking out people of color in majority settings. That kind of resilience is built into our DNA. Why not, um, you know, kind of direct that, that experience, um, towards a profession that requires it.

Rianka: 38:53 Yes, yes, and again, this is why I say what cannot be taught is that personable skill that, that empathy, that just, um,

Cy: 39:07 how about just listening, right? We have a number of cases in the news today around, financial services for ramming products down people's throat. Products that are neither suitable nor affordable for them and actually being, you know, this is, if not unethical, illegal in many cases. So, you know, I think we can talk about the fiduciary rule and how public policy is, is on the cusp of impacting this profession. But I do think, you know, the kind of valued advice and the ability for consumers to be at a place to hear that advice, that again, you're talking about soft skills here, speaking, listening, processing, maybe making people feel comfortable to share, make it participatory, safe spaces. Again, those are skills that are required, um, in this new normal. And again, these are skills that in a kind of intangible, on official way. Communities of color, individuals that are produced by communities of color, um, have long histories with those skill sets, but we need to build upon that in fact, make those skill sets compulsory parts of this profession in many ways, you know, white males of a certain age don't have these skills will have to go relearn these skills.

Cy: 40:15 And again, that's an area of, of expertise in the area of, of, of, uh, of advantage that communities of color, planners of color may have. And again, I'm very much interested in not just making the profession, meet prospects where they are, but ensuring that the profession can be adaptable to prospect desires and this new kind of business model. So I'm with you on that.

Rianka: 40:37 Yes, absolutely. And something that I say, every time I speak is as far as the empathy, the listening. I'm meeting clients where they are, but us also understanding that we may not have all of these skill sets to work with our clients and for us to kind of check our ego at the door when we work with clients to say, maybe I need to take a couple of classes on this or maybe you know, I need to reach out to someone who is of diverse background and just talk to them and just from a very open, and honest way of just saying, listen, I'm trying to help and I just want to learn can, can, can you help me? Um, and then also from, you know, this is what we do for clients and this is what I'm going to continue to say when these conversations come up in the office, whether it's diversity and inclusion, whether it's more people of color or it's more women. Again, check your ego at the door and just listen. Like, just listen.

Cy: 41:46 That's right. And that's a skill that's atrophied in many professions, there's no time to listen, right? I do think this, this profession, and I'm are bullied by the fact that there's intentionality around this, but it requires relationship building and to build relationships you have to give and take there. You have to listen and process and react and respond. And so I think, um, I really appreciate you talking about that. The intangibles that will lead to successful profession, I think it's a little understood or at least a less understood component to the successful pathway if those skill sets that people have but have just those skills have atrophied because a lot of professions today don't require them. All is excellence in them. The ability to write and to speak orally and the ability to, um, take cultural cues from folks. You know, as we live in a hyper segregated world, Rianka, I think when we don't in our daily day have the ability to come across someone with different attributes and characteristics from our own that makes this initiative all the more important. Um, because again, we're going to help bridge those, those myths helped bridge those, those divides around how people come speak past one another. Advice requires both people to be locked in and that's the heart of this professional.

Rianka: 42:57 So we know that there are firms, individuals, organizations out there that that's doing it right, and I actually want to bring up Investment News and I think I shared this with you, um, or the board during our last board meeting is that Investment News, they, you know, they're not making this a one conference thing or, or one panel topic thing. They're making this a year effort of this notion of diversity and inclusion and they actually have introduced the inaugural Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Awards, and this new program will identify and celebrate individuals advisory firms, industry partners, and institutions for their work around diversity and inclusion. And they actually have called for nominations for this. Um, and I'll put these in the show notes as far as how you can nominate. I think, uh, the nomination period is a now until April 8th, 2018. Um, again, I'll put everything in the show notes, but now it's time for firms organizations to bring their receipts. And if you don't know what that means, that means bring proof of what you're doing. There's a lot of firms out there that say, hey, you know, we're about diversity and inclusion. We know that there are firms that are doing it right. And so I love this initiative that Investment News is doing because now we can highlight these organizations and firms that are doing things right and moving the needle forward and so they can share their best practices. Uh, and so we can all just move forward as a profession.

Cy: 44:48 Yeah, I agree with that. And I think this is where institutions like the National Urban League and other groups like mine because we're interested in a permanent way, not a fleeting way, Rianka, but a permanent way in the concept of financial health and well-being from many perspectives. We, you know, just like you talked about bringing together, you know, uh, the voices of champions of financial capability and newer voices such as your own hailing from a variety of sectors. Um, what unites all of you? From my perspective, I think that's so exciting is the shared recognition that we must do more really to help all Americans have control of their financial lives and achieve their financial goals. And as representative in the talk we're having now in the campaign, I'm a CFP Pro, that you're, that you're, um, um, uh, major, um, spokesperson for. Financial health and well-being is the bridge to a strong financial future, connecting individuals and families to greater opportunity, creating more vibrant communities and in turn, strengthening the social economic fabric of our nation. To me, that's how central this whole topic of conversation is. It's at a societal level. And I think we need to underscore to all who will listen. The, um, central importance of this question. If we fall behind any further, I have deep fears for the world of financial advice, deep fears for the world of financial products, if only certain segments of the of society can access them. So yeah, that's a concern. All of us.

Rianka: 46:12 Yes, I agree. And say you probably, I, I'm in the world of financial planning. This is what I live, breathe and eat. Um, again, you wear many hats. I mean, you, you are coming into our world learning our world, but through your work in many years of, uh, service, uh, with the National Urban League, you have seen other professions and other organizations kind of do it right. Is there any best practices that you can share or resources that your firm owners who are listening to this podcast or large organizations who are listening to this podcast? Like what advice would you give to them?

Cy: 46:57 Two things. One, I would say that we don't all have shared experiences, so there is no one approach to identify and creating professional pathways around the lattice work for career development. I think sometimes you have to open folks eyes and also opened the eyes of sectors to meet those folks. Those, those woke people, as you say, at the right point in time. And so I would actually push back slightly and say, I've got to give credit to the CFP folks because I don't think there is a comparable, um, initiative, this kind of intentionality with this kind of name brand stakeholders and with this kind of highly visible profession on the line that makes the stakes so high that we're they to fail. It would be above the fold news in most newspapers. The CFP challenge here is of that scale, right? And so, um, you know, I mean, I'm not trying to be funny, but I think to me the, the sector or the group that is at least matched the kind of mature grown-up sensibility around the urgency of DNI, is like the professional sports world, for example.

Cy: 48:20 Rianka, in many ways there, there, there's, there's diversity lacking in professional football, professional baseball. I'm, and in the NBA in terms of management and ownership. However, like the Rooney rule in NFL, whereas you have to in, in interview, um, you know, kind of perspective, um, you know, applicants of color for any open position, mandating that. And the point is not that you'll hire everyone, but in the process you'll learn more about but wants, beliefs, desires of those individuals and their communities. And I think that part of a reconciliation process is very important. And so I, you know, I mentioned NFL in this case with the Rooney rule, but I do think, you know, some variant of that might be important to the Edward Jones of world or the TD Ameritrade of the world. How many, not just how many new CFPs were you able to generate or bring it in.

Cy: 49:12 But what's your retention rate? What's the, you know, do you, do you survey and focus group every year to gauge and assess their, their fulfillment within the profession? What's, and I mentioned retention rate. What, what sectors are you losing? Um, the Rianka Dorsainvils of the world, you need to know that as well. Um, what's the right point in time that people should enter the profession? You mentioned at least two onboarding moments, but there might be others, right? I mean, so I think, um, this is a societal challenge that we can learn from other sectors. I mentioned the sporting world, but again, that's a highly visible low scale effort. We're talking about needing, you know, kind of tens of thousands of new, um, CFPs' and again, that will take more than just your tweaking ones, procurement, everyone's hiring processes. It will take a sea change in the thinking and intellectual honesty around DNI can be good for the bottom line, but it's also good to be able to show consumers as they differentiate good actors and bad actors. And I get increasingly people will want to know your diverse, you have diverse sensibilities and you're also going to help me make some money. I think all those things are going to be in play moving forward.

Rianka: 50:21 Yes, I agree. And speaking of actors, um, something that I just learned on the Oscars couple of weeks was the inclusion rider. Wow. Where it's saying, um, you know, basically I guess a leading actor can say, Hey, in order for me to take this role in my contract, I want to inclusion rider. And that means I want x percentage of diversity, but not on the cast, on a, behind the scenes. I mean there's what we see as, um, the viewers of a movie is just the main actors, but as we know, there's so much that goes into making a movie. There's writers, directors, producers, camera, makeup artists, etcetera. And just like with financial plans, again, my clients, they just see me. There are so many people behind a tax planner are reach out to an estate planning attorney, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Cy: 51:22 I think that's right. In that case you mention, I think we really have to look to the leadership from women who have been the most progressive, the most vocal and um, and um, um, and visible in terms of pushing. The fact that people spoke about at the Oscars were women. This is the era of women. I think they are going to really help, um, expand the scope of how we look at DNI. And again, I, I appreciate there are powerful women in that sector, just like there are powerful women in your sector. And in fact, I include you in that. So I think there is privilege with power and I just hope to you, Rianka, and others that you continue to exercise it to bring in more people like yourselves. Don't just pick up the ladder behind you, bring to the ladder, build more rungs on it,

Rianka: 52:04 Cy, we've had, some you know, some great conversation about what the diversity advisory group is doing, specifically for bringing awareness, um, you know, or recruitment around financial planning and the financial planning career for African Americans and Latinos. Is there anything or does the Center plan to expand their efforts of recruitment to other minority groups as well?

Cy: 52:30 Yeah, I mean that's a great question. I mean we do, I just think we focused on black and brown America, blacks and Latinos because the, the data urgency is most acute in those communities where the gap is most precise. I mean we also have to make strides in the Asian community and also understand in the Asian community and to the black community and the Latino Community, Rianka, we need to dis-aggregate data because all the experiences in those communities are not monolithic. Right? I mean, we have different ethnicities and countries of origin languages spoken within those communities, so I think we have to be very granular with how we understand the challenges and chart the recommendations for moving forward. But yes, I mean that is a good point. We are diversity and inclusion. Um, initiative is inclusive of the Asian community. Um, I think just we've, we've kind of elevated blacks and Latinos around the urgency that's in the data, but also I just think around creating the poster child for those communities that may be information deficient around financial matters. I think black and Latino communities and at least the perception of embodying that is, is easier to kind of narrate around. Um, not necessarily that the Asians are model minorities. I think that's a very difficult thing to have to hang on that broader community. But I do think the data is much more urgent in the black and Latino communities.

Rianka: 53:50 Well thank you so much for sharing that. So it is great to know that right now there's been attention, the, you know, attention being put on, you know, these two specific communities, but there is going to be some expansion to the Asians and Native Americans and just broaden the scope of the minority groups. So that's great.

Cy: 54:10 Or the LGBTQ community as well. I mean, we're talking about diversity in a modern sense, full stop, but that means diversity of views, diversity of backgrounds, languages, perceptions, beliefs, desires, all those things make for a better decision making and ultimately for better business. And so we're not just stopping to your point with blacks, Latinos, it'll, it'll reach every ethnic group. I mean, that's part of the intentionality of the Center and I'm glad to be associated with you.

Rianka: 54:31 Yes, yes. There is so much for us to continue to talk about. I want to ask you one more question before I let you go. Um, and uh, it's the question that I want to ask all of my, uh, my guests on this podcast because I'm inviting a variety of different levels of professionals, whether they're planners or not. You, yourself, you are in, in the financial planning world, family. Um, but you know, your day to day job is not a financial planner. So as you look back on your career 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?

Cy: 55:31 Wow, I think that, I'll just answer it this way. I think, um, I have, um, again, I mentioned to you earlier, you can't choose your parents and I'm not trying to be glib with that, but I think it explains a lot of the racial wealth gap in our country. And I have always privileged education and I get that from my parents, both my parents were educators. I'm, I've always, I've always privileged, um, kind of, um, self improvement and I've always been able to love and be loved. Allow, allowed myself to be loved and I think that is. And again there's confidence, confidence in loving and confidence in being loved. And I've been able to surround myself with individuals who are loving and generous and caring. And I think there'll be some element of that required in this initiative here, which is why I'm suspecting while you're asking out of all of us, because I do think each of us brings something to the table, and again, in my case it is, I think I have a decent ability to listen,, to process and to articulate a narrative, um, that, um, I am an able to share in multiple mediums that in multiple settings, but I think the major area that I've been able to excel at has been the ability to, um, to privilege my own education and knowledge.

Cy: 56:44 And then also in part that in others, I have two children. I'm doing the same there. I'm with my wife. But I think also the ability to, um, to be cared for. I say love, but you know what I mean. I'm in the most expansive sense to be worthy of an advice, to be worthy of support and guidance. And then to be able to be big enough to receive it and then act on it. We assume everyone is capable of that. I think that supposition is flawed. We need to build those capabilities. Again, some of it is up to my organization, some of it's up to secondary school, so that's up to the firms themselves. Some of it's up to the social capital that you generate within your social networks, but I do think all of us have to build up knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge and that is very intangible and soft skill based.

Cy: 57:30 So again, um, I'm trying to kind of do all those things in my daily work. Um, but it is. The headwinds are fierce and I do think our population, as you mentioned, will constitute more than half of all new household formations over the coming decades and will increasingly grow as a share of the nation's labor force. Why not this profession? Why not this particular labor force? And again, I'm with you, I'm, you are my Pied Piper and I'll follow you because I do believe, as I say, this profession is good, potentially lucrative. It does reflect and respond and react to people with skills and knowledge and pays well, can pay very well, but also that knowledge can be imparted on behalf of others, the underserved, the under-banked, the underclass, and I'm interested in people want to be turned on that way as well.

Rianka: 58:20 Wow, thank you so much, Cy, and thank you for joining me today on really truly laying the foundation of what the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning is doing, the summit that's happening in October, the work that you are personally doing with the National Urban League. I just want to say thank you. Uh, you wear many hats and we are so privileged to have someone like you and with your passion and enthusiasm around just equality, uh, someone like yourself leading us on the Diversity Advisory Group with the Center. So thank you so much. Thank you so much for your time.

Cy: 59:09 It's a privilege. Every time I see you, I'm the better off. And so, again, I support this work, this, this, uh, initiative. And again, thanks again for having me on and one of the early sessions. It's a, it's a privilege and honor.

Rianka: 59:16 Thank you so much. Cy Thank you.

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