A Philadelphia-based RIA has been tapped by the city’s NBA team to help promote local Black-owned businesses.
The 76ers announced this month that Zenith Wealth Partners will help promote and select a winner for the basketball team’s third-annual Buy Black Program. Golf apparel brand Eastside Golf, another Philadelphia-based company, has also been selected as a partner.
The 76ers will help the selected business build a custom marketing plan, with the winner also receiving free advertising across the basketball team’s social and digital platforms, custom created content, and local radio spots for the remainder of the current basketball season and into next season. Zenith and Eastside Golf will provide mentorship and networking opportunities to the winner.
“We are proud to launch our Buy Black Program for the third year and join two incredibly talented black-owned businesses to help us promote and support this year’s winner,” said David Gould, the 76ers’ chief diversity and impact officer, said in a statement. “Over the past few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to create programs that amplify diverse Philadelphia businesses and this year’s Buy Black program is a prime example of that continuing commitment.”
Zenith founder and investment director Jason Ray said the mission of the 76ers’ Buy Black Program — “to promote local, Black-owned businesses and provide them with expert marketing consultation, advertising value, educational programs and additional tools to succeed” — aligns perfectly with his firm’s own mission to address racial and gender-based inequality in wealth management. Ray, who is Black, said he founded Zenith in 2019 and has since grown the RIA to nine staff with five licensed advisors serving about 180 households and representing $35 million in AUM. The firm is 100 percent minority-owned.
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“In my career, it was obvious that most advisors are trying to cater to a specific high-net-worth, typically white, retiree family and the services and investment opportunities they were offering should also be provided to folks that [don’t] have access to high-quality advice and investments,” Ray said.
Women and BIPOC are underserved in wealth management both as clients and as advisors. Black and Hispanic individuals make up less than 5 percent of all the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ certified professionals. The CFP Board’s designation is wealth management’s most popular certification for financial professionals and has more than 95,000 designees. The percentage of women CFP professionals has grown in recent years, but still only makes up 23.6 percent.
The 76ers’ Buy Black Program, which started during the 2021 to 2022 basketball season, has since gained in popularity. During the first two years, more than a total 600 applicants applied across both years. According to Rays, this year alone saw more than 500 applicants. Applications for the program closed February 21.
As a partner on the Buy Black Program, Zenith will be highlighted at the games and featured on marketing material, helping the RIA gain exposure to a broader audience. But Ray emphasized that he and his team were most excited about helping black and brown entrepreneurs in the region who not only need marketing support but may be looking for investor capital, co-founders, or mentors and advisors.
As part of the program, Zenith will be involved in everything from helping drive candidates to the program to selecting the winner and building resources for the entire applicant pool. It’s the kind of opportunity that Ray says doesn’t come around often.
“The reach that they have with so many different types of folks — age, occupation, socioeconomic status, race, gender — sports brings all that together,” Ray said. “So, I think coming together under the shared vision of promoting minority entrepreneurship, and them promoting that to the broader national audience, is just really special.”