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Bridging the Wealth Gap: An Advisor’s Mission to Help Her Community
• Sibyl Slade • February 6, 2024
Before starting my second career as a financial advisor, I spent 21 years at the Federal Reserve, where my role was to ensure that individuals in all communities had access to financial products, services, and resources.
There, I saw things I wanted to change. I felt like we were doing a disservice by solely focusing on homeownership as a means for building wealth as it relates to underserved markets when there were so many other products and services in the toolbox to grow financial assets.
There is a team of researchers at the Federal Reserve with a focus on analyzing gaps in income, wealth, employment, and other areas for demographic groups, including the racial wealth gap in the U.S. In a 2021 study, these Federal Reserve researchers highlighted the dramatic impact of racial wealth inequality, finding that Black households could have been five times wealthier in a hypothetical world without these gaps.1
As I worked at the Fed, I developed a clear understanding that I had to be a catalyst for change and help bridge the gap if I wanted to see the economic trajectory change for women and people of color. That was the fuel to launch my second act, and to become founder of my independent firm, IntegriVest Wealth Advisors.
Nurturing Hope for Greater Diversity
Women of color are seriously underrepresented in the industry—only 1.9 percent of CFP® professionals are Black or African American, and women, who are half the population, make up less than a quarter.2
As a result of this ongoing representation dilemma within our industry, I didn’t have any role models prior to becoming an advisor. But once I got into the industry, I quickly began to build my own network of advisors who recognized my value and genuinely wanted to see me succeed, some of whom I met through the Financial Planning Association of Georgia.
In 2019, I received an invitation from a larger firm to attend a meeting of the Association of African American Financial Advisors (AAAA). This organization serves to expand the community of successful Black financial professionals and use financial planning to pave a path to prosperity.
Since that time, I have noticed a lot of affinity research groups and initiatives surfacing to focus on bolstering the industry with people of color. I am happy to see the new intentionality to attract aspiring Black and Latinx financial planners. This gives me hope that I can grow an enterprise of professionals who can play an integral role in helping to close the persistent wealth gap that exists between Blacks, Latinos, and others.
If industry leaders genuinely want to create a more inclusive industry, they must learn to eliminate unconscious bias, separating facts from feelings as they relate to others with different cultural norms, values, or perspectives. I’d like to see an emphasis on developing genuine empathy to understand the experiences of others and authentically seeking to increase relationship currency with people from diverse groups.
Setting the Community Up for Success
My change-making mindset also influences how I give back to my community. Business ownership, in particular, is a powerful way to build generational wealth.
To help entrepreneurs, I co-founded the ATL Small Business Mastermind Forum, a collective of business service providers who offer training, technical assistance, and other resources to business owners who lack the knowledge and capacity to grow and scale their businesses. This support is provided through strategic partnerships with community development financial institutions, the Small Business Administration, universities, nonprofits, and local governments. My financial planning expertise and my economic development expertise uniquely position me to do this purposeful work.
I also want to connect people with the benefits of financial therapy. I work in conjunction with a psychotherapist to help business owners and entrepreneurs identify behaviors, beliefs, and relationships that negatively impact their financial and mental health. We provide them with a framework to succeed as a business owner, in their personal lives, and within their community.
Continuing the Cycle
We will never live long enough to understand the true value of investing ourselves in our communities because the rewards and benefits to our communities are infinite. Connectivity in a community is what helps create quality of life that goes far beyond economic impact and indicators.
Our communities are better places because we engage in building them. Seed, sow, enrich, harvest—that’s the cycle.
1. Aladangady, Aditya, and Akila Forde. “Wealth Inequality and the Racial Wealth Gap.” FEDS Notes, October 22, 2021.
2. CFP Board. “CFP® Professional Demographics.” January 1, 2024.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this content belong to the content creators and are not necessarily those of Osaic Wealth, Inc., its affiliates, or employees.
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. IntegriVest Wealth Advisors, LLC. and Securities America are separate entities.
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