By Robert Stitt
Dr. Ajamu Loving is a financial advisor. He works with fellow financial planner Jocelyn Wright at the American College of Financial Services in suburban Philadelphia. Loving and Wright are Black.
The Government Accountability Office statistics show that only 2.7 percent of senior-level staff in the financial industry are Black. Add in Hispanics and Asian and you get up to 8 percent.
“I heard 7 percent of astronauts who traveled into space were Black. It struck me that was better than the number of financial planners of color,” said Loving.
When people don’t know where you are coming from, how can they help you? How can African-Americans take control of their retirement planning if there aren’t any Black financial planners who understand their situation? Loving said they turn to less knowledgeable people for advice and this isn’t financially healthy. “Individuals who get less professional advice, they end up not performing as well,” he said. “I’d like to increase the number of African-Americans in financial services, and increase the level of advice in the community…If you’re a talented young Black person, there are a lot of opportunities out there.”
Loving knows what he’s talking about. Before becoming the director of academic partnerships and assistant professor of financial planning at the American College, he was an assistant professor of finance at Texas A&M University-Commerce and worked six years for the Dutch bank ABN Amro. Loving says that many Black Americans don’t take advantage of financial planning because they don’t think they make enough money. He acknowledges that there is a wealth gap and that many Black Americans are at the bottom end of that gap. Loving doesn’t feel that this is a legitimate reason not to seek help. After all, the number of the general population seeking financial services may be twice that of blacks, but it is only 26 percent. Three-quarters of Americans don’t seek help regardless of where they are on the wealth gap spectrum. By getting African Americans to seek financial services help, Loving believes that the gap can be closed.