Internship organization Inroads sees ‘sea change’ on racial equity

Byna Elliott, JP Morgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways program manager, had a message for students that the industry needs them to hear for its own future success.

“Now is a great time to pursue a career in financial services and bring your unique talents to corporate America,” Elliott told a group of students during a virtual panel last month hosted by an internship organization at nonprofit for minorities. Incursions‘Financial Services Institute. She pointed frequent experience many black, Latino, or other minority wealth management professionals from being the only non-white people in the room at meetings or on their teams.

“Where we started our careers we were often the only ones, and it was much harder to succeed, but we prevailed,” Elliott said. “Now the environment is so much more conducive and supportive, and we have recognized what it takes to create more talent and diverse talent in our businesses to be successful.”

In a field where less than a quarter of planners are women and less than 5% are black or Hispanic, more financial advisors and wealth managers can play a leading role in ensuring that success after Inroads unveiled two new collaborations so far this year that have expanded the organization’s 51-year presence in the industry. Training and placement organization Wall Street bound came on board as New partner of the Inroads Institute and the independent brokerage advocacy group Financial Services Institute launched a new program for internships in corporate offices and consulting practices across the country.

Questions loom over it and the industry’s many notable efforts to engage historically excluded groups of people as advisors and clientscorn. Cases of discriminationa persistence huge The racial wealth gap and many broken promises in the past provide plenty of reason for skepticism about effective long-term change in a field with high barriers to entry. The companies have would have has pledged a total of $50 billion since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Industries that hold themselves accountable by publicly discussing their longstanding diversity issues are truly creating “step change,” said Forest Harper, CEO of Inroads.

Forest Harper is the CEO of minority business internship and training organization Inroads.


“Corporate America has taken a step forward to not only put money behind its commitment to diversity, but also meaningful employees, activities and changes to prevent systemic racism in corporate America as you have seen. never seen before,” Harper told the students. “I am confident that American companies have taken the leadership role in making this happen. They are not waiting for the government. They don’t wait for anyone to tell them to do it. They run it.

By the numbers
Inroads plans to send a group of 5,000 interns across industries this summer, its first co-ordination spaces at independent wealth managers through the new FSI program. Over its history, more than 30,000 former Inroads interns have gone on to full-time positions, with three-quarters eventually becoming owners and 40% amassing between $500,000 and $5 million in wealth. according to to the organization.

The organization’s institute, a 10-week financial training program held each spring for sophomores who identify as black, entered its fourth year in partnership with JP Morgan, the bank of investment Houlihan Lokey and Wall Street Bound. In the previous three years, at least 212 students completed the training, 75% of whom went on to work placements and 89% were placed in financial jobs, according to figures from Inroads. To display.

The institute “works with students to become the best versions of themselves and has prepared me for the future,” according to a testimonial posted on the site by Georgia State University student Aidya Shorts. “I would recommend this program to all students.”

Elliott, who joined JP Morgan in December 2020, after serving as director of corporate responsibility for Fifth Third Bank, also used the words “radical change” on the panel to describe the current discussion on diversity in the industry. Under the leadership of CEO Jamie Dimon, the company has pledged to invest $30 billion over a five-year period to advance economic opportunity among Black and Hispanic Americans.

“We know that over the years there have been times when banks have not been your partner or your friend around your development, both from a career perspective, but also around your financial well-being and your wealth,” Elliott said. “Stakeholders – and when I say stakeholders, I mean employees, your investors, your community – are asking for a different solution to a problem that we have had in our country for years around systemic racism.”

Wall Street Bound founder Troy Prince launched the nonprofit in 2019 with his first “Introduction to Wall Street” Bootcamp after spending decades in the industry as a trader and angel investor.

“As a young black man coming from the South Bronx border, it struck me that Wall Street had neither the ability nor the intention to connect with those communities where we know the young talent is,” said declared Prince. “As the leader of an organization dedicated to this mission, this is why I wake up every day. This is my ministry. But also, in my 20 years on Wall Street in the front office, on the trading desks, on the floor constantly being the only one, it never made sense to me. Because, again, we know that young people like you are ready, hungry and just need an opportunity.

New independent internships
The first summer of the Inroads partnership with the FSI offers brokers and independent advisers the opportunity to follow the paying RIAs participating in the first year of the BLatinX internship program last year to introduce potential advisers to the profession. Ultimately, companies and practices that sign up can help close a median wealth gap that the Fed has measure at about 12 cents of black net worth for every white household dollar.

“We started thinking, how can we make American businesses and corporations improve and close the racial wealth gap in America?” Harper said at last month’s OneVoice FSI conference. “What better way to ensure that those who follow us in the future, whether a talented leader or an independent business owner, manage their money and get advice early in their life. their careers in order to help close this racial wealth gap in America?”

FSI launched a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in September 2020, and the organization’s CEO, Dale Brown, has pledged that it’s “traveling” toward increased black and Latino representation among independent advisors and wealth managers. He featured Harper and Inroads at the organization’s event.

“We’ve been working with our D&I task force over the last year to try to identify, who are potential partners who can help us leverage the strengths we bring to the table?” said Brown. “We have no interest in reinventing the proverbial wheel. It is not a good use of time, energy, resources. There are organizations that are doing very good work that we can partner with. And we identified the first.

In addition to the new internship program, Brown’s organization has released what is likely the first measure of demographics among advisors affiliated with independent brokerages. Only 18% are women, 2% are black, 2% are Latino and 3.5% are Asian American, according to a study of a sample of nearly 500 registered representatives by FSI and Broadridge Financial Services in November . The FSI plans to continue disclosing the data in the future.

Chase Branch, Bloomberg News

A branch of Chase in Manhattan, New York, displays a sign in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.

Bloomberg News

Cross the barriers
If numbers like that weren’t enough to give would-be minority advisers pause before trying to enter the industry, some might also run into mental blocks, Houlihan Loukey co-chair David Preiser said during an interview. of the Inroads panel with Wall Street Bound and JP Morgan.

“Our world seems – when you’re on the outside and you look inside – it seems really hard to get into,” Preiser told the students. “It sounds really daunting to be able to succeed in the world of finance, but there are absolutely all the reasons why you can succeed, be successful, have a great career, have a great life. And it’s a wonderful path because it requires nothing but a bit of smarts, hard work and the willingness to put in a lot of effort every day to learn a lot. It’s the best company in the world to pick yourself up and do something I really believe in it and I want this opportunity to be accessible to anyone who is willing to work for it.

In addition to the commitment of participating companies, the industry effort to increase the number of Black, Latino and other minority advisors will benefit from the leadership of professionals themselves like Prince who are driven to create lasting change.

“Being the only one is absolutely not acceptable,” he said. “For a person like me who has spent my entire career in finance, on Wall Street, for me to not be the only one to turn around and bring you young people and bring everyone with me would be a travesty and a waste of that experience. And so Wall Street Bound was pretty much the highlight of my career not being satisfied and not being okay with being the only one in the room after so many occasions.

Virginia S. Braud