About the author: Omar Parker is a junior at Delaware State University studying finance and banking and is also a student athlete. This summer, Omar worked for Schwab Advisor Services and was able to get firsthand experience interacting with various teams and advisors.
By Omar Parker, Schwab Advisor Services RIA Intern
When it comes to being an ally a lot of people have questions about where to begin or even how to be an ally in the workplace or in their communities. This summer I had the opportunity to speak to registered investment advisors across the country on the topic of allyship, the actions they are taking to be an ally and what it means to them.
Here are three things that stood out to me in those conversations:
1. Understand what being an ally means
“An ally is someone that speaks on behalf of individuals when they’re not in the room,” said Kamila Elliott, founder of Collective Wealth Partners and Board Chair of the CFP Board. “Advisors must create an environment where everyone is included and has a voice, even when they’re not present.”
Allyship is an idea that is continuous, that takes intentional progress and building relationships with people that individuals may not normally have a relationship with. Firms that create a culture where everyone can come to work as their authentic selves are well positioned to cultivate trust with their employees, as well as a sense of belonging at the firm. The first step in creating an environment like this is through inclusive leadership.
Seth Streeter, founder of Mission Wealth, is a notable example of a leader that supports allyship in his firm. Mission Wealth has two in-person retreats each year where they prioritize creating a space for employees to come together to better understand and open up to each other. At these retreats, employees participate in ice breaker exercises that give them a chance to talk about parts of their lives that they would not usually talk about. People often share powerful stories about their lives, which gives their peers a deeper understanding and appreciation of other people’s culture and background. According to Seth, “Listening is the highest form of loving.” People must be willing to listen to each other.
3. Taking action
In pursuing his Masters in Wealth Management at Columbia University, Jason Papier, Managing Partner at WRP Wealth Management, and his peers saw a need to help attract diverse talent to the industry and created the Advancing Diversity Fellowship. The fellowship is fully funded by students in the Masters of Professional Studies in Wealth Management program and is available to individuals who have a minimum of three years of RIA industry experience and are members of an underrepresented community.
“If you open the door, that person can break it down and run in,” said Jason. “The RIA industry is built on relationships. If people in this industry just make their circle a bit larger and invite people who are different than themselves, then they are giving an opportunity that may have never been given. That is a great form of allyship.”
According to Kamila Elliott, intentionally doing business with vendors that match the diversity of advisors and clients is another way to foster allyship. She recommends that during a firm’s annual business review or when looking to onboard a new vendor to look deeper and ask: Are diversity, equity and inclusion important to that company? Is it minority owned and operated?
These are just a few ways advisors in our industry can create allyship within their firms and communities. Advisors who custody with Schwab have many resources available to them to begin to build a diverse and inclusive firm culture. Advisors can learn more and begin implementing these strategies today by visiting Schwab Advisor Services RIA Talent Advantage.