This week on YAFPNW, financial management consultant Tyrone Ross, Jr. makes an appearance. We get into the nitty gritty of the financial planning world: how the profession can change for the better, why the phrase “diversity and inclusion” is overused, and what financial planners and advisors can do now to create a better future for ourselves and our clients.

An unconventional journey to financial planning

The road to becoming a financial advisor or planner is not a straight one, and it’s not often easy, either. Tyrone explained that initially, he didn’t set out to become a financial advisor. After being the first in his family to finish high school as well as attend college, Tyrone studied biomedical engineering (a “large mistake,” as he put it) at Georgia Tech. He then majored in communications, until one of his graduate professors asked if he had ever thought about working on Wall Street. 

Tyrone hadn’t. He dove headfirst into the finance world, and started his financial advising career in 2006. And as we all know, the 2008 financial crisis occurred during that time, which many might assume made his work all the more difficult. However, “It was an amazing time to start my career,” said Tyrone. After getting his Series 7 & 63 licenses, Tyrone worked as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch until 2017. Since then, he’s been working independently as a financial management consultant, startup advisor, and entrepreneur.

“Changing rooms” to change the profession

Tyrone spoke about how lucky he was to have connections to Wall Street, connections that enabled him to get his foot in the door. Most people don’t — particularly black males. And that’s something Tyrone is extremely passionate about changing, which I think is palpable when you listen to this episode. Though many companies and organizations have initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, it’s not enough, or it’s not working. Tyrone said that it has become a trope, and it has lost its intended purpose. 

So, I asked him how can we find our way back and promote real change within the profession. He shared that it starts with being mindful about who we include in the conversation. Take financial conferences, for example. Tyrone recounted how he’s been fortunate to be asked to speak at conferences. However, he’s usually speaking to a room full of white men. That’s where “changing the rooms” comes in. Why not have more diverse panelists, or keynote speakers, or moderators, or even attendees? 

This attitude goes beyond conferences, too. Tyrone noted that we need to go where the people are — the people who need our help. Venture out of our nice offices and beautiful districts and get closer to people who may not live in the wealthiest part of town. Or maybe they’re students at a university who aren’t first choice for jobs on Wall Street. If we don’t create a bridge between those people and Wall Street (or the financial industry at large), we lose out on a lot of potential talent. 

Once we “change the rooms” to include people from different backgrounds and cultures, we’ll ultimately change the financial advice we give, the marketing and advertising we use, and the client base we serve. This natural, purposeful change will affect the profession for the better, rather than a forced change through diversity and inclusion initiatives. Tyrone really got me inspired here, so I hope you’ll check out this episode and listen to how passionate he is!

Expose, educate, and empower to improve the profession

So… When the rooms change, what happens then? Tyrone told me that the problem with our profession (that no one wants to admit) is that we all think we’re smart, and our main goal is to prove how smart we are. And we teach this mindset to trainees, who teach it to the next wave of trainees, and so on. But his method of teaching professionals is more comprehensive and, well, smart. 

He calls it the three Es: Expose, educate, and empower. Rather than throw a bunch of impressive information at people entering the financial planning profession, we need to slow down and expose people to the world first. Look at our marketing literature, podcasts, and community outreach. Do people know what a financial advisor or planner does? Do they know what it takes to do that job? How can they get started?

Once people begin asking questions, they can find opportunities for education. Tyrone mentioned that it would be helpful to have a career path in college that leads to opportunities at financial services firms. Following education comes empowerment. New graduates and professionals can benefit from all kinds of resources, like websites to check out, books to read, extra classes to take, or conferences to attend. From there, we’ll create a generation of planners and advisors who know what they want and can find the resources to help them do it well.

Tyrone’s advice for graduates and new professionals

Regardless of background, education, or previous experience, Tyrone believes planners and advisors need to be mindful of three things when graduating or entering the profession. Networking is a top priority, first and foremost. Build connections on social media. Reach out to others. And when they connect with you, take the time to follow up with them, whether that’s through messages or thank you cards or emails. 

Building your network goes hand in hand with building your brand, too. Tyrone called it “embracing the sales piece.” It’s not so much envisioning yourself as a cheesy infomercial salesperson, but rather being mindful of how you present yourself. How you dress, speak, walk, talk, and sell yourself to people. “That doesn’t stop once you graduate. If anything, it becomes more of that now,” Tyrone explained.

Finally, he said, lead with gratitude. Let people know that you are grateful for any introduction, grateful for any partnership, grateful for any invitation you are offered. People remember you when you’re thankful for their advice or connections or opportunities. “The most important thing you can do,” Tyrone shared, “… is always staying grateful.”

There’s so much to take from this episode, and Tyrone is a real inspiration. If you’re curious about making the profession a better place for everyone, I highly recommend that you tune in.

[tweet_box design=”box_10″ url=”https://buff.ly/39MKpgg” float=”none” excerpt=”Top advice I would say right now…is 100% to network. Your network is your net worth. – @TR401 on #YAFPNW”]Top advice I would say right now…is 100% to network. Your network is your net worth. – @TR401 on #YAFPNW 184[/tweet_box]

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • Tyrone’s unique introduction to the financial planning world
  • How he started his career during the 2008 financial crisis
  • Changing views of diversity and inclusion in financial planning
  • Why financial literacy and education are so important
  • How we can work towards diversity by “changing the rooms”
  • Why no one should be afraid to speak up and speak out
  • Tyrone’s “three Es” for teaching trainees
  • Why we need to get closer to the people who need financial planning
  • How purposeful change affects every part of the profession
  • The power of advocacy
  • Why networking and gratitude will get you far

 

Show Notes:

In this episode of YAFPNW, we spoke to Tyrone Ross, Jr. about:

Want to follow Tyrone? Check out his LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter at @TR401.

 

 

[show_more more=”Show Transcript” less=”Hide Transcript”]

Episode Transcript


Ian: So welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us today on another episode of the podcast, I’m here with Tyrone Ross jr. And we’re going to talk a little bit about the future of the profession, his perspectives, his thoughts and his understanding about the profession currently and where we’re headed. So Tyrone, thanks for being here.

Tyrone: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Ian: Sure. Of course. So I think what’s always helpful when it comes to our listeners is to tell us a little bit about your story so we know where you’re coming from and how your perspective influences what we’ll be getting into a little bit later. Where did you get started? Where did you intend to be a financial planner in the first place? And how did you get there?

Tyrone: That’s always a beautiful question to ask people who are in this business because there’s no straight path to becoming a financial advisor, financial planner, which is something that we can get into and something that I think needs to change or will change in the future. I did not set out to do this. I was a communications major in college after making the large mistake of wanting to be a biomedical engineer. It sounded good and I thought the girls would really like it but unfortunately it got me kicked out of Georgia Tech and I ended up finishing at Seton Hall after being dismissed from Georgia Tech. So Wall Street was never a thing to me. I didn’t know what the stock market was or what Wall Street was until I was 26 years old which is again, a problem, something we’ll discuss.

Tyrone: First one in my family to finish high school, first one to go on to college. And for me, I think what I learned the hard way going to college, starting on Wall Street, learning about money was how I was just so far behind and how much my family suffered because of it. I knew we had financial struggles but I didn’t know the extent of it until I was exposed to a world that I just had no idea of. So for me, once I got to Seton Hall, I like public speaking, I like being in public forums so I figured I’d do some type of, be a public speaker or something like that but I had a graduate professor that was like, “Have you ever thought about working on Wall Street?”

Tyrone: And I’m like, “What?” So he broke it down for me and helped me interview and started out doing investor relations by a firm called Financial Dynamics that was ultimately acquired by FTI consulting. And what was interesting about that is at that time, it was ’06, so I was here from ’06 to ’09. So not only am I getting baptized in terms what the hell Wall Street is and the buy side and sell, all that, the great financial crisis happens so I, like, “What is all of this?” We’re right next to AIG so that was a whole thing. So it was an amazing time to start my career. And I had a mentor there who was at Lehman and then obviously he was just so distraught that Lehman went to nothing but to zero.

Tyrone: But the funny thing about that is this, is that he suggested the retail side, whatever that was. He had to explain that to me. So long story less long, I end up going to get my series seven and 63 at a little chop shop at One Penn Plaza in New York city. When I got there, I heard about this thing called the wirehouse and then I end up at the wirehouse and start doing that thing. But the funny thing is I met Morgan Stanley and I love to cold call. I love cold call. Cold call’s my favorite thing in the world to do. I miss that I actually don’t cold call anymore. And I used to do the whole thing.

Tyrone: I would stand up and I would pitch loudly, and a woman was, I don’t know where she was from, but she was a higher up at Morgan Stanley. She was walking through and she stopped me and she was like, “I have not heard that pitch done that way since the pits at Lehman.” She was like, “That is the exact Lehman brothers pitch.” She was like, “Who taught you that?” So it’s really funny how my career got to this point. But long story short, ended up at Merrill, left Merrill in 2017 and have been on the independent side the last two years.

Ian: So you’ve had transition from really soup to nuts getting started in the profession of financial planning from all aspects. So one thing I want to ask you about up front that’s come to mind for me, and look, I think this is an interesting perspective. If you’re graduating college and you can’t find the job of your dreams right away, it sounds like you took a career path that got you to where you are now and the first step was getting in the door. Is that about right? Is that how it feels?

Tyrone: Yeah, you got to have an end. You have to get a foot in the door somehow. Again, luckily I was privileged. I had white men that identified me as having a particular skill set and were able to point me in the right direction. I was also in graduate school, which for black males is not a thing. Especially those that were first generation high school graduates. So I was very lucky. A unicorn so to speak.

Ian: Yeah.

Tyrone: For most people, it’s not a reality to have an end to Wall Street. It’s just not. So you have to have some, which again goes back to what I was saying. I think if there’s some type of career path that starts in college with those that do have some business acumen and they can start to matriculate themselves towards the credentials needed to walk into a Raymond James or an LPL or whatever day one it starts, I think it’ll afford more folks like myself that opportunity.

Ian: What’s passionate for you right now within the profession?

Tyrone: Passionate for me. The main thing is, and again I won’t drag you down this rabbit hole I promise, but the main thing is crypto currency and what crypto currency is going to mean for the underserved, the underbanked and the unbanked. I’m very passionate about that. Again, I won’t go there I promise. Because I just think the whole aim of crypto right now is just wrong. The majority of people in this country could care less because we have so many options to pay for things. We don’t need another one. So we’re missing the mark there. The other thing is diversity and inclusion. The main one being I’m tired of the term diversity and inclusion. It has become a trope and it has gone far away from its intended purpose so much so that again, one and a half percent I think of CFPs are black, and I’m not going to use the term black and brown. I think that’s part of the problem.

Tyrone: And I think ultimately we lend to that problem as black people in this industry, we’ve been conditioned almost to incorporate black and brown. And I think if we’re going to make some progress as people, we need to just segregate ourselves out and say black and which is why I’m starting to fight so hard for black men and everyone has their cause. And I think if everyone if we have the LGBTQ, if we have the fight on behalf of women, if we have those that fight over behalf of black and brown, and if we have those of us that fight on behalf of black people and especially black men, I think once we all do that, the rooms will start to change, the advice will start to change, the marketing will start to change and obviously the client base will start to change as well. So that’s one. And I think the last one which I’m really and extremely passionate about is financial literacy and financial education and access for the unbanked.

Tyrone: And the reason I feel that way is because I grew up in an unbanked home and I know what that’s like, and I know the tragedy that that brings, and I know the distress that that brings. And I did feel like right now going into 2020 and for the rest of our lives that financial literacy needs to be led by the financial advisory community. Enough is enough. Wall Street has made enough money from people being ignorant. I think it’s time for financial advisers, because people don’t like us anyway. They don’t like us, they don’t. You walk into a room, I always tell people, if you want to be left alone in a party, just tell people you’re a financial advisor, they will go the other way.

Tyrone: Because they’re like, “You’re going to sell me something.” There’s a reason why all of these networking groups only allow one financial advisor. People don’t like us. So we might as well address the elephant in the room. And my bold statement that I made on Twitter, I truly believe that 20 years from now that financial services and financial professionals will be the most beloved industry in this country, I think that’s major. So that’s where I sit. I know there’s a lot there but those are the things that I get extremely passionate about and fired up about that gets me up everyday.

Ian: Before we keep going, there’s one more piece of admin so to speak, so we can make sure listeners know who you are and what you’re working on. And so tell us a little bit about your podcasts, what they would hear on it and the conversations you’re trying to have. I know it’s somewhat tied to what we just talked about and I’m not trying to reiterate but I think it’s important for them to know that there’s an outlet they can hear more of you. So can you tell us a bit about that?

Tyrone: Yeah, absolutely. So I am the host of the Human Advisor Podcast which is a a gift to the world, brought folks by altruist and the CEO Jason Wenk. So Jason Wenk had an idea as he’s rolling out our truths which many folks listen and probably be familiar with. They’re trying to disrupt the broker space and make it cheaper for financial advisors to run their business. And then have advisors pass on those savings to the client and Jason is very well connected and accomplished in the space. But I say gift to the world because when they reached out to me, I’m like, “I don’t want to host a podcast.” I’m like, I’d rather probably be in the guest but it was essentially, it was like, “Well, Jason thinks you’re perfect because you’re vulnerable. You tell your story and it’s not going to be easy. What’s your AUM? Tell us about backdoor RIA contributions.”

Tyrone: And I’m like, “All right, I’m for it.” So what it is is basically, it’s in the title, it’s the human advisor. Everything is about robos now and then the technology, AI and AR and VR. And this is just simply tell us about you. What makes you you? What do you bring to your practice? What are you passionate about? Why do you serve people? We are in a service business. Who do you serve? Why do you serve them? We do get into people’s practice only because every financial advisor’s practice I believe, and my mentor told me that this, is it’s a reflection of you. Your book of business, which is something else we need to stop saying, book of business, but for the conversation purposes, your practice, your clients that you work with are going to be a reflection of you one way or another.

Tyrone: Again, you are from a certain community, you are from a certain demographic, you are from a certain area of the country, you do have a particular expertise. Whatever it is, you bring that to your practice. So that’s what it’s about. It’s documentary based so we shoot a long form podcast with video and then we also do a walk and talk where we just walk through their community, spend time at their practice and put that together and show people and it’s been received very well. So go check that out, humanadvisorpodcast.com, go subscribe, go listen and hopefully some folks listen to this. We can have on.

Ian: I think it’s super important that we recognize that there are many outlets that provide different perspectives on the profession and we’re all influenced by them whether or not we choose to pay attention to them.

Tyrone: Absolutely.

Ian: It is interesting to always hear more about what you’re doing and what other folks are doing. So one thing I wanted to get into, I guess right away as we start talking about this is, you said something at the end of talking about diversity and inclusion that really resonated with me and I’d like to unpack it a little bit. You said if we do this right, and to your point, focusing on individual aspects of diversity inclusion rather than grouping them all together, the rooms will change, the advice will change and the client base will change. For those of us who are listening, who are unsure exactly of what that means, can we just sort of break that down? Because I think that’s the essence of what success in the diversity inclusion looks like. And if I’ve misspoken there, let me know, but I think we should start at rooms. So what does it mean when you say the rooms will change?

Tyrone: So I have been fortunate enough to be asked to speak at conferences. Every time I speak at conferences, I’m speaking into a room full of white men. Which I want to make this very clear just so everyone knows. We are fully aware that the rooms will never be all black, all women. We’re fully aware. It will probably still be a majority of white men. That’s okay. Let’s address that. Let’s put it to bed. Let’s move on. So what I’ve started to realize was, the room only changes if I decide to go into an inner city or go around black and brown folks myself. But when I’m asked to do something, I realized that the room does it look like me. So I now have to take the responsibility to say, “Hey, I’m fine. We’re speaking at your conference. I also know that you checked a box.”

Tyrone: That’s fine. Let’s also address that. We need one black guy. Go get Tyrone. All right, we got him. Cool. I will sit on your panel, but something has to change. And I started to see this repetitive thing, we’re on the panel, on the panel, on the panel, never asked a keynote, on the panel, on the panel, on the panel, never asked a keynote. So I was like, “Okay, that’s step one.” You need to have more people who look like me keynote. Even if it’s not me, if I’m not smart enough, not handsome enough, not tall enough, I don’t dress right. You need to have a black man, a black woman keynote please. Then once you do that say, “Hey Mr. or Mrs. black keynote, can we dig into your network?” I’m surprised at the number of people in our industry that that does not know where the HBCU is.

Tyrone: For those that don’t know that is a historically black college. Some of us were actually athletes. It’s how we paid for college. So why not tap into our networks? Some of us were in sororities or fraternities. If you know anything about black and brown people, especially black people, fraternities and sororities are big part of our culture. You see where I’m going with this? As you dig deeper, you get more into the culture. And as you dig into the culture, if you care about me, you care about my culture, you’re going to let me bring all of me to your conference, not just my black skin. I’m going to bring all of that. So maybe you change up the conference food a bit. Maybe you say, “Hey, we’re going to bring some black and brown kids and some poor kids.” By the way, folks, poor is not just black and brown. There’s white poor people too. Poor is a condition.

Tyrone: So say, “Hey, we’re going to bus in some kids from the inner city or from a social services program, or we’re going to bust in a economics class or a finance class from a local community college or whatever to come in to here you speak.” That’s when the room start to change and then also I’m going to market to the local fraternity or sorority chapter in that city where I speak. So now my brothers and sisters are going to come hear me speak. When I was at a crypto conference in Dallas, I brought one of my mentees with me. Now you’re telling me I couldn’t invite him and three of his friends and get them off the street, and the conference organizers couldn’t say, “Tyrone, you come to our conference, you got two free passes. Bring whoever you want.”

Tyrone: And not be afraid that I’m going to bring in some hooligans, that I’m going to bring in people who look, walk, talk, and act like me. Now the room changes. Now you expose more people to our business. One that may ultimately need services, and two may ultimately say, “Hey, I could do with Tyrone does. Maybe I want to be a financial advisor.” See where this happens? And again, that isn’t my responsibility because I now realize I need to fight for this when I’m asked to do things, and if everyone does it because women are saying, “I’m not going to sit on a panel unless there’s a woman moderator and there’s three other women.” Why can’t black men do it? So I’m starting to do it. So I’m saying, “Hey, I need you to do these things.”

Tyrone: Or I don’t say I don’t need you. I would like for you to do these things [inaudible]. And then why has no one ever had a panel full of black men, black male panelists, black male moderator. We are not incapable of having a conversation about whatever you want to throw at us because our skin is black. We’re not handicapped by that. We can talk about whatever you want and it doesn’t need to be how black financial advisors feel about black people. Give us any topic you want. We’re not handicapped. So I think when these things start to change and we have these honest conversations, progress happens. Also, I will add this. This is very important. If I don’t say anything else, I need white men to understand what I’m about to say. We need your voice. I understand and I’ve talked about this in my podcast, that there’s this wave of attack that white men are supposed to apologize for being born white.

Tyrone: No. You are the most powerful class in the country. We need you as allies. We don’t need people, and again, I get so many DMS from white men who are like, “I can’t say anything because they’re just going to look at me as a middle aged white.” No, no, no, we need you to speak up because nothing happens unless you in that change. So I say that to say one, we do need white men to speak up. I want to hear you. We need to hear you. On the other side though, if people use a term that’s incorrect, if they say female instead of woman, if they say black instead of African American people can’t be attacked. We need everyone to come to the table and be able to say what they say, feel how they feel and then correct them and not be chastised for saying something they may not be clear about.

Tyrone: Because if we do not have these open conversations, we don’t make progress. That’s just the way it is. And especially the most powerful people in the industry can’t be afraid to speak up because when they do, when they don’t rather, we don’t get the change that we need and that we deserve. And I think if we keep it about ourselves, what we’re doing is keeping the progress and the advice from the people who need it most and that is the millions of people in this country who deserve financial advice and aren’t getting it. Again long winded answer, but I just think that that’s how we get to changing the rooms and I’m happy to say that I’m working with a lot of people who would say, “Tyrone, can you help us?” And that’s all you need to do.

Tyrone: Hey, can you help us? Absolutely. And one last point, to all minorities in this business, I will say this, I’ve gone through terrible racism. I’ve been called some of the worst things you could ever be called as you have. But when we get in positions to effect change, we cannot be bitter. We can’t be bitter at that point. At that point, we got to use that bitterness, internalize it and say, “Hey, all right, you want me, you want to work with me, you want to partner with me, here’s some of the things that I’ve seen along the way. I would appreciate it if you help me do this. And help me change the room and help me change the narrative.” And I think if we do that together, we can evoke change. But it’s not going to happen with diversity and inclusion initiatives or diversity and inclusion classes. It doesn’t work that way. I’m sorry, it just does it. It needs to move from that to representation and equality then we’ll start to make some progress here.

Ian: If the rooms change, what happens? What are we now as a profession able to do that maybe we haven’t been able to do until this point?

Tyrone: Educate. And here’s what I mean by that. The problem with our business, and no one wants to admit it, is that we all think we’re really smart, and we want to prove how smart we are and we teach this to trainees. Day one, the minute they walked into a training program, I went through it. Three year training program, they want to cram all this information at you, get your CFP, get your CFA, get all of these things, improve the people how smart you are. This is what I say. This is the only way this works and it’s something that I talk about through my company called the three Es.

Tyrone: I don’t care what you know until you expose me. Which is the first E, exposure. Because if I expose you, you have no choice but to go, how do I get that? Or how do I become that? I expose you to it. And as we expose more people to the conferences, as we expose more people to our marketing literature, as we expose more people through our TV and marketing and podcasts, as we expose more people, they start to ask questions. I go to so many schools and they go, “Well, what’s a financial advisor?” That’s not okay. So once I expose you, then I can educate you and not because I want to talk at you. I’m talking to you because you’re asking me questions. What does a financial advisor do? What do I need to do that? And how did you do it? And how much do you make? And what is the letters after your name mean?

Tyrone: Then the education piece comes in. So we’re starting backwards and the last E is empowerment. Now that I exposed you, now that I educated you, now I have to empower you saying, “Go read this book. Go to this website, take this class, go to this conference.” So on and so forth. So we just want to jump out with the education. Let’s just go educate people. Come on, let’s go. It’s the way. No, we got to expose you first. And here’s the beautiful thing about exposure which is what our business sucks at. We won’t go where the people are that we need to help. We lack proximity. We want to stay in our nice offices, we want to stay in our beautiful financial districts. We don’t want to get proximate to the people who need us.

Tyrone: If we don’t get proximate and no, podcasts don’t do it. No, conferences don’t do it. No, being on TV and speaking to a particular demographic don’t do it. You have to go where those people are. And when I say those people, I say that meaning it could be, and I’m not even going all the way down to the unbanked, the underbanked, the working poor in this country, 50 million people mind you, but I’m talking about you have to get proximate to the students at Florida ANM. You got to get proximate to the students at Prairie view ANM, you have to get proximate to the students here at Rutgers and Monmouth university here in New Jersey that aren’t from the particular pedigree that we know gets all of the shine and gets all of the jobs on Wall Street proximity.

Tyrone: Because as I get close to you, as I start to see what you’ve gone through, as I start to feel what you’re feeling, your anxiety, your desire to want to get better. As I see your circumstance, as I understand what you’ve been through, you know what I say? “Oh crap, you’ll never be able to pay for the CFP.” Let’s sponsor that. Okay, this is why you can’t come to the conferences because it’s too expensive. But I can only get that if I’m proximate to you, if I can see that you’re spending your last $20 to gas up your car to drive into the wealthiest part of town to be out of place in the juxtaposition between where you are and where you want to go. There’s this chasm of uncertainty and bigotry and stress and desire, but uncertainty. Then I start to say, “Oh my God, we got to create a bridge between those people and Wall Street. Because if we don’t, we’re losing out on all of that talent.”

Ian: And what does that talent get us if they’re successful?

Tyrone: There you go. So now you get diversity and inclusion by default.

Ian: There you go.

Tyrone: They just bring new experiences.

Ian: Yeah.

Tyrone: Because guess what? Every black male in the United States of America didn’t grow up like me. Some of them went to Stanford, went to Harvard, they grew up in affluence. Some of them grew up in middle America. They didn’t grow up on the coast. Some of them may have grown up in the South and their values are different. You get all of these different perspectives. Some of them may be black, may be male, may be gay, may be rich. They could cover so many things. So now you start to get different perspectives. So I think that is so important and you bring all of these values into a room, and you bring all of these perspectives into a room, and you bring all this education into a room, and you bring all this diversity into the room in terms of background, again here in the Northeast, we have a tremendous Caribbean culture, which I am a part of.

Tyrone: My dad is from South America, Guyana. Caribbean culture is very similar to African culture in that parents step on your neck about education and the importance of begging. I always talk about, not only in crypto but just in general. There’s something in the Caribbean culture called a susu, which is basically a form of banking that is established by the people. It goes back to the 16th century, slaves that is still used to this day to bank one another. It’s forced savings. And I won’t go into the particulars of it but this is the culture that you get. And then when you have this time of year when everyone wants to have their little stale Christmas parties, instead of everybody bringing Dunkin donuts and stale cookies from the grocery store and you want to do a potluck or whatever, now you’re truly having food from different cultures, from different areas of the country.

Tyrone: And then people start to work alongside one another and they’re comfortable with people whose hair doesn’t look like their hair. And we’re comfortable with people who may have a particular fragrance that we’re not familiar with because they come to work lathered and cocoa butter or Shea butter. Honestly, these are things we need to talk about.

Ian: Yeah.

Tyrone: And understanding the difference between when you’re working with an Orthodox Jew or you’re working with a Pentecostal Christian or you’re working with a Catholic. These are all things that it’s okay, you sit next to these people on airplanes, you sit next to these people on public transportation, you work with them. These are the people again who are out there who need our advice. And last point, there’s nothing wrong, nothing wrong, and I don’t know why Wall Street has not figured this out yet. If I am a highly educated or not Hispanic woman and I walk into J.P. Morgan or whatever, why can’t I say, “Do you have any Hispanic women here that I could work with? I’m more comfortable working with her.” That’s okay. Every other community does it.

Tyrone: Every other industry makes it available for us to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if people constantly turn on the TV and they see white men talking about money, what do they think? Only white men know about money. There was a survey that, I can’t find it but I was at Merrill Lynch at the time and I was blown away by this study and they did a study of African Americans in this country and they asked them, “Who would you feel more comfortable with working with you and your money?”

Tyrone: And they said a white man. That’s telling, because if I drive down the highway and I see all the credential ads, and I see all the JPMorgan Chase ads and I see the white family with the white picket fence and I go home and I turn on CNBC and I see Josh Brown who I love, that’s my boy. And I see Jim Kramer and I see all of these people and I’m like, “Well, okay, is this for me? Is Wall Street for me? Is money for me? Is retirement for me? Is financial planning for me? So this is highly layered. When I was in Merrill, there were 14,000 advisors there. 100 or so were of color. Black males. 100. That is not by mistake,

Ian: Right.

Tyrone: Merrill is a 100 year old institution. That is not by mistake. That’s purposeful. So I think there’s a lot here we need to address and we just need to be honest about it. And until then when those things start to happen, then the industry start to change as a whole. And again, it’s by default, it’s not forced change, it’s purposeful change. There’s a big difference.

Ian: Yeah. It’s leading with division. That financial planning is actually here for all people. And if that’s the case, then we must serve all people and find ways to do it, which we’ve talked about this before on this podcast. I got to say, I’m not sure of financial planners who work with million plus clients, $10,000 minimum fees are the right people and have the right skills and expertise to be working with folks who come from different backgrounds and are worried about paying their bills in 30 days, let alone their bills in 30 years.

Tyrone: 100%, you are absolutely right and that is okay. Again, we just need to deal with that. That is okay. We don’t need private client group advisors going into inner city Detroit.

Ian: Right.

Tyrone: And talking about ILIT trust. No thanks. I don’t have enough money to get on a bus to get home. And that’s okay. But there is an army of people who want to go help that demographic and the financial services industry should be armed properly to send people in and say, “We want to help you. We have this group of people that come from your circumstance, they come from your communities, they look, walk, talk and act like you, and we’re going to send them to you and we’re going to help you.”

Ian: To your point, if we can expose, educate and empower folks to become financial planners and understand their finances, educate them, then as our client bases change, firms need to be ready for that change. So how do firms start to think about this where they traditionally aren’t more or less inclusive. Maybe it isn’t on purpose, it’s just the way that their firm has grown, and you may feel differently about that too. How do we start to prepare for success for the firm 30 years from now, assuming that we want our businesses to survive?

Tyrone: It’s culture, establishing a culture of inclusiveness. And now that could be with a office full of white folks, black folks. We’re inclusive of all folks. So what that means is we are cognizant of our marketing, advertising and branding. We make sure that we have diverse collateral that shows our capabilities. That is consistent because again, what good is hiring all of these diverse people and then these diverse people, or go out and all of the literature has white families on it. So that has to change. You have to arm the people that again, that you hire to go out and be successful in their communities. I think where you start to target your services, you need to change. I think those that are responsible for hiring and those that are in the business of whether it’s HR whatever, they need to go into these communities and spend some time there so people can start to get comfortable with them.

Tyrone: The other thing I think that needs to happen is every single conference moving forward, and I’m talking about today. That is planned needs to make sure that every single community where these conferences take place that they are doing something in the community, not donating to a charity and putting it up on a PowerPoint and then say, hey, there’s a local, whatever. No. Going into that community, an orphanage, a battered women’s home or a youth detention center and getting, again not the whole conference, but some advisors there say, “Hey, we’re doing something locally.” That needs to happen. So these little initiatives. Moving pebbles first then letting people know, that was cool. FPA came in and they did this really cool thing and they brought us some baby seats and socks and shoes, and advisers donated old suits and ties for people to, that’s simple.

Tyrone: Now it makes for good karma and good exposure and then again, it just starts to feed on itself. But I think little things like that, little things like awareness, little things of being cognizant of how presentations are formatted. And all of these things I think once you start to do that, once people start to coming in the firm looks different. Well now we have every group represented here. What do we do next? Like you said. And again, armed them with the proper materials. Make sure that the way language is on a website or whatever. So if I go to the website, I go, “Oh man, this is wow.” So if you do have a segment of your business. I just interviewed an advisor on a podcast. She said, “What I realized was.” And I thought this was phenomenal.

Tyrone: She goes, “We’re ramming financial planning down people’s throat who don’t need financial planning.” And she’s like, “I realize that some people just need coaching.” So she started off a piece of her practice that is just coaching, that some people that need to be coached on personal finance and it’s a lot cheaper and it’s not as intensive for her, it’s not as regulated for her, but she could provide a service. And I’m like, man, that is brilliant because if you do have a low cost robo solution, or you do have financial coaching or whatever, that should be readily available so people know that when they go to your website, you don’t pop up with the big board room and a beautiful glass and, we have a $250,000 minimum. Click. I’m off it. So I think people need to be aware that yes, we serve two folks here, you’re a part of that website.

Tyrone: Again, that’s website. Those are representatives of the firm. And also last point is this, is that we all know in this business the most powerful thing when it comes to growing our business is word of mouth. And make sure, because I think what the rules just changed now with client testimonials, the first thing I wouldn’t do, any smart financial advisory firm right now, if they really are serious about this will make sure that when they put on testimonials on their form, on their website or whatever, that they make sure that their clients that are reflective of the people they want to serve show up in their testimonial 150,000%. That would be the first thing that I would do because now you’re putting it out there. These are the people that we work with, these are the people who shout from the mountains for us. They work with us. You should too.

Ian: So how do folks be a good ally? Is it just show up and be receptive? What are your thoughts about that?

Tyrone: So I have a good answer and good examples of that. And I’ll start by saying allies are a great. I call them advocates, and here’s why I say that. Advocacy is powerful because here’s the power behind advocacy. If I’m an ally, we have the same mission, we have a common enemy. So it’s like, all right, we’re going into battle and we have a common enemy. You don’t like them. I don’t either, let’s go fight them.

Ian: But you may not exactly be on the same page.

Tyrone: Exactly. Advocacy is a little different because if I advocate for you, which people have done for me. Listen, advocating for little black boys in the underbanked is not really my thing Tyrone, but I’m going to advocate for you and I’m going to let you use my platform. It’s not my fight but I’m going to give you my platform and I’m going to advocate for you because it’s your fight and I like you and I like what you’re trying to do. And it may not be something I can dedicate energy or time or resources to, but you can so I’m going to undergird you and advocate for you. That’s powerful because if we get more people to do that, just say, “Here, take my podcast, take my conference.” Like Josh Brown is epic at this. Epic. He uses his large platform to say, “Hey Tyrone, crypto and bitcoin could care less. Come on my show and talk about it. Or here’s the retweet.

Tyrone: And that’s what’s so powerful right now. Just a retweeting of the message or sharing a message about something that may not be your cause. Because people always want to put in their profile, retweets doesn’t necessarily mean endorsement. Well great, retweet my tweets about the unbanked. It may not be your cause but just to retweet it to get more eyeballs on it. So really powerful thing for advocacy. Here’s the other thing. Everything doesn’t need to be in the spotlight. I won’t mention them but a couple of large advisors and very well known people in the profession have reached out to me privately and said, “Tyrone, we’re trying to look to hire more black women, more black men, more diverse candidates. Can you help?” Absolutely, I can. That is a powerful step. And then I say, “Are you aware of this? Can you do this?”

Ian: Right.

Tyrone: And if you are where this, here’s what I’ll do in turn. Perfect example of that, there was a young lady that had a conversation with this particular well known adviser. The well known individual of that large firm reached out to me and said, “Thank you so much. She is the ideal candidate.” A black woman. Ideal candidate. Thank you so much. We had a great conversation. Now I want to make something very clear. If they never hire her, I won’t throw a fit about but the fact she got a chance is very important. Here’s why. Not for the fact that again, them checking a box but with the fact that they were exposed and they go, “Man, are there 20 more like her? Are there 50 more? Are there five more?”

Tyrone: And then they’re comfortable sitting with her and now that starts to pervade their mindset because they’ve been exposed to her and say, “Whoa, we were completely wrong.” And they look at her resume and it may be again, she went to one of the colleges that I spoke about, or she was a part of one of those sororities and then the whole thing, there’s a ripple effect. But we have to just get one person in the door because it changes everything. So that advocacy behind the scenes or somebody to say, “Hey, Tyrone would be great for this initiative. Go get Tyrone.” And then I say, “That’s not really for me but I know somebody else even more perfect because they’re actually from there or they actually in that area.” So the advocacy matters just when people behind closed doors, where people but have conversations.

Tyrone: And here’s the other thing. This is what I’ll say and I’ve been saying it and I need people to get it. It matters in life who you stand next to, it matters who you stand next to. And this is more of a, I hate to say it, but it’s just the truth. And this comes to a whole different… This is more of a street code but it matters in life. It matters who you stand next to. Because if I’m with you and you have a particular beef for a particular issue in the street, I am now a target. Whether I would like it or not because I align myself with you. Let’s scale this up into corporate and spin it in a positive way. I walk into a room with someone who has a lot of prestige, a lot of access, a lot of AUM, because that’s all it matters in our business.

Tyrone: You’ve got a large AUM, you’re growing it, you heal the sick. Two billion in AUM. Oh my God. How’d you do it? You’re a cancer. So I walk into a room with an advisor with large AUM and he has all this prestigious honor, and him and I are having lunch in the Harvard club. All of a sudden I have credibility. I don’t have to say anything. I don’t have to do anything. I’m sitting with him so they’re going to hopefully, and I’ve had bad experiences with this still. I want to make that very clear that sometimes they just don’t care. No matter what room you walk into, you’re still black. But I say that to say, you’re in there for a reason. So now the wheels start to turn in their head.

Tyrone: How does he know him? Why is he here? And then that person going back to advocacy says, “This is my friend Tyrone. Tyrone does this, this, this, this, and this extremely well. The best I’ve ever seen. You should get to know him” And then that goes and looks at my profile. They follow me on Twitter, they listen to this podcast and go, “Hey, come pay attention to this guy. We need to figure out.” See what I’m saying? That advocacy matters. So as long as we’re doing that behind the scenes. It doesn’t need to be the picture of the African chosen next to a well in Africa saying, “Hey, we’re building schools here.” We don’t need that. We have enough of that. What we need is more behind the scenes.

Tyrone: True advocacy, true partnerships of people’s just saying, “Hey, I’m going to bring Tyrone in this room. I’m going to bring this particular individual to this room and I’m just going to simply introduce them to everybody I know. The rest is up to him, but I’m going to expose him and I’m going to introduce him only because I know that when I do that everyone in this room who looks, walks, talks and acts like me are going to be drawn to him for the same reasons that I am and he’s going to be able to help them break down the walls that were in my life, that stopped me from getting proximate to people like him.”

Ian: If you were talking to someone who’s graduating either now or are graduating in the next year or so, what is your top advice for them? Regardless of background what is your advice for folks coming in?

Tyrone: Top advice I would say right now, which I again have some experience with from mentoring and dealing with a lot of folks who are coming out of college and have been out of college for a couple of years is 100% to network. Your network is your net worth. So being highly networked. There’s a couple of layers to that but making sure that if you are on LinkedIn or social media that you’re using it to network and build a brand because that’s where people are going out, they’re looking at your website, they’re looking at your social media. But in that are layers network, one follow up. Follow up thank you cards, thank you notes, whatever, follow up and network. And lastly, the most important thing you can do, it’s not your Harvard MBA, it’s not your Wharton degree, it’s not any of that. It is always staying grateful. Letting people know that you are grateful for any intro, grateful for any partnership, grateful for any invitation. Lead with gratitude always and forever. If you lead with gratitude, doors will open for you that should have never opened, that should have never been there.

Tyrone: But when you lead with gratitude, always say thank you, always follow up and when you lead with gratitude, that means adding value and then people will refer you, they’ll introduce you, they’ll do all of these things simply because, listen, I’ve met him once, I met him two or three times but man, hardworking, dedicated, whatever, all that stuff, but truly grateful. They were truly grateful and display gratitude for this intro or what I did for them. I think you’ll find it the same way. And I think if you continue to do that you’ll have all the success and you’ll have all of the entry way that you want in this business, but a more professional answer or industry guided answer. And I hate to say it, but it’s true, if I’m stepping into this business now and if someone will get into this business, you got to embrace the technology and how the technology is disrupting our business.

Tyrone: You just have to embrace it. And I think another business thing is I would definitely embrace the sales piece. And I don’t mean the cheesy late night commercial sales, I just mean the sales in terms of how you present yourself, how you walk, how you talk, how you dress, how you speak to people, how you present your brand, that is sales whether you like it or not. You sold yourself to your wife, you sold yourself to your employer, you sold yourself to your college. So that doesn’t stop once you graduate. If anything, it becomes more of that now.

Ian: Awesome Tyrone. Thank you so much for your time today. I think we may need to have another conversation. I now remember what it is. I forgot before.

Tyrone: Sign me up.

Ian: We will have another question for another conversation. Is there anything else you were hoping to talk about today we did not get to?

Tyrone: No, that’s it. I think we covered it well, and I think we went to some places that people aren’t comfortable going. And I definitely think there’s, as I would say some free jewelry in here for people to kind of dig out.

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