Firms advance culture that supports differences

Nearly 100 firms and individuals were nominated for diversity awards this year

Oct 17, 2019 @ 10:54 am

By Liz Skinner

At its second annual Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Awards event, InvestmentNews recognized financial advice industry firms that are advancing diversity and inclusion within their own firms and around the profession.

[More: The Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Awards]

Nearly 100 firms and individuals were nominated for diversity awards this year and 17 firm finalists emerged in two categories. Eight firms were announced as winners at the Sept. 24 event at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

"We are happy to celebrate and honor all those who have overcome formidable obstacles to make this industry more diverse and inclusive," said Frederick P. Gabriel Jr., Editorial Director of InvestmentNews.

"I hope that today's event will also serve to challenge you and inspire you to continue to fight the good fight and work toward creating a profession where no one is made to feel 'less than' who they really are," Mr. Gabriel said.

Outstanding Practice Awards were given to three financial advice firms that embrace the mission of increasing diversity and inclusion within its own ranks or among its clients. The winners were:

Apriem Advisors

Founded by two Asian American wealth managers, Apriem Advisors promotes a culture of diversity. Its five partners all come from minority groups, as do a majority of its executives. President Rhonda Ducote launched the "Women of Wisdom" program in 2014 to educate women about finances, particularly widows and single women.

[Recommended video: What advice industry needs to do as nation's diversity evolves]

Seitzinger Financial Group/Northwestern Mutual

In early 2016, the Seitzinger Financial Group became the first Northwestern Mutual office to address immersion experiences, officewide cultural assessment, bias training and the formation of a diversity and inclusion council.

Today, 40% of the office representatives come from diverse backgrounds, including 30% of the management team and 57% of executive team leadership.

Tobias Financial Advisors

The advice firm's 12 employees represent seven countries and wide-ranging work histories in areas such as public high school education, health, fitness and taxes. Tobias attempts to match its advisers' backgrounds to clients' own, whether linguistic, religious or professional. The firm itself also conforms to diversity measures. About 55% of employees, including its female CEO, are from minority groups, as well as 60% of new hires over the past 18 months.

Other Outstanding Practice finalists were Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, Momentum Advisors, and Partnership Wealth Management.

Don't missour Women Adviser Summit — coming to San Francisco.

Of firms that support the financial advice industry, five won Diversity Champion awards for their formal initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion. The winners were:

Gateway to Leadership Foundation

Administered by the Money Management Institute, the foundation tackles diversity by fostering readiness, particularly for African Americans and Hispanics. Launched in 2007, Gateway delivers through three buckets: career awareness, exposure through education and development, and connections to employers for internships and entry-level positions.

LPL Financial

LPL Financial helps its advisers tap new cultural markets in their fast-changing communities, believing that those who embrace diversity will be first to set up an inclusive practice.

Women — like LGBTQ, African American and Hispanic adviser communities — value the firm's models, which let them build their practices independently, with consistent compensation. They also appreciate its scale, and lack of a glass ceiling.

[More: Focus on these steps for boosting D&I in advice industry]

TD Ameritrade Institutional

Each year, TD Ameritrade Institutional brings students to a national conference to learn and interact with professional advisers.

Another key contribution is the firm's role as the founding sponsor of the CFP Board's Center for Financial Planning in 2014, when the firm provided 25% of the initial funds needed. The center is designed to increase gender and racial diversity.

Wells Fargo Advisors

The firm's next-generation talent program has brought career opportunities to more than 1,800 employees, expanding diversity in age, sexual orientation, gender and ethnicity. Candidates include military veterans, students at historically black colleges and universities, and parents reentering the workforce. The program has reshaped how the company trains, mentors and compensates its advisers and managers.

XY Planning Network

The network specializes in helping financial advisers that serve Generation X and Generation Y clients, as well as other overlooked segments of the population that may not have yet built up their assets. XYPN's diversity committee supports initiatives such as diversity-themed blog posts, monthly diversity webinars for advisers, and scholarships for diverse CFP exam candidates.

[More: Increase diversity or die, Pershing CEO Tibergien tells RIAs]

Other Diversity Champion finalists included Etrade Financial, FS Investments, Guggenheim Investments, Investacorp, Jackson National Life Insurance and Natixis Investment Managers.

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