Investing in Minorities

Investing in Minorities

Heritage Financial Partners launching new program to prepare students for the field

By Kambui Bomani

Heritage Financial Partners co-founder Vicki Brackens told an array of Zoom onlookers that she could count on one hand how many Blacks and Latinos were involved in the financial services industry. In the same breath, she uttered that the creation of financial businesses and firms headed by people of color was at its lowest point the last 25 to 30 years, hovering around roughly 3 to 5%.

Not only is there a limited number of minorities joining the filed, but many who currently hold positions are aging out, which led Brackens to host this call to share financial career opportunities for Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students and recent alumni interested in the field. In fact, The U.S. Labor Department reports that jobs in financial planning are expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 7% through 2028. 

“We’ve talked for years this was going to become a problem and we need to do something about it,” Brackens said, “And guess what, that time has come.”

The Zoom event is a part of the groundwork that Heritage Financial Partners, led by Brackens and fellow co-founder Kenneth J. Royster, have created to formulate a Financial Advisory Program. Based in Norfolk, Va., and Syracuse, Heritage Financial is a corporation that helps others get through financial trouble through developing, implementing and monitoring strategies for each individual’s financial situation.

This new program will present the potential of putting past or current collegiate students on the same career path in the financial field during an 8- to 12-week period at various cities: Syracuse, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The students must be a college junior and/or have graduated, preferably from an HBCU, within the last two to three years to be eligible. Current college sophomores will also be considered.

To apply, students should visit the website, click the “Join Us” button at the top of the page and submit a current resume and inquiry letter. Submissions will be reviewed with a final selection narrowed down in the Spring. Brackens expects to sponsor three to five students through their training, which will help prepare students for the new Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam.

During the talk, Brackens also explained the range of options in the financial service industry — from accounting to financial planning and even to the statistical and analytics side. She articulated her history as a financial planner by explaining the requisite job requirements from connecting with her clients, coaching and helping design strategies in a goal-oriented way. Yet, in describing what she sees as the most important asset to have in this role, might be unexpected to many. 

“You have to have a heart for service,” Brackens said about financial planning. “You’re working very deeply with people first versus other aspects of financial service where you’re working with numbers.”

The event implored the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset, possessing interest in the financial field and some knowledge in the aspect of analytics. Heritage Financials’ applicants will be required to complete 60 to 80 hours of training during the course period, which is set to be held over the summer months.

Another push for Brackens to launch the program was due to the lack of mentorship within the filed. The environment also requires years of training and licensing that can be expensive. Brackens said the program would pay for the cost of taking the SIE Exam, which is now required in financial advisory training.

She also elaborated that the program would present an opportunity for minorities to connect with influential mentors within financial services that could propel them within the industry with insight and intel on how to do business.

Kambui Bomani is an intern for The Stand and a Newhouse School graduate student