On Monday, while protests continued in response to the death of George Floyd and systemic racism in America, financial advisors were upset that industry organizations remained silent. The advisors wanted — if nothing else — for the organizations that had held themselves out as advocates for minorities in wealth management to say they supported those groups.
“I think the number one thing is to just say ‘we’re here’ and it’s okay to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect,” Danika Waddell, an advisor and CFP certification holder in Seattle, told RIA Intel on Tuesday.
Waddell called the silence by the CFP Board unacceptable and, like others, waited for a response. Observers also asked organizations, including the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or NAPFA, to publicly express support for their minority members and condemn racism.
Both the CFP Board, which has more than 87,000 designation holders, and NAPFA said they would issue statements on Wednesday and they did.
Kevin Keller, the CEO of the CFP board, and Jack Brod, the chair of the organization’s board of directors, wrote that “empowering people and advocating for equity is in [the CFP Board’s] DNA.”
“This is one of the reasons why the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and too many other African American/Black people have weighed so heavily on us. Our hearts are with the families of the victims, those who are protesting and peacefully demanding change in their honor, and the many African American/Black CFP professionals who are part of our community and who continually fear for their lives and face violence, brutality, discrimination and mistreatment in this country,” the statement said.
The CFP Board also said it was committed to establishing “pipelines that allow everyone, especially African American/Black people and other people of color, to achieve a more secure financial future through financial planning.” It sees designation holders as one of those pipelines and urged the wealth management industry to actively support black professionals and the black community.
“It is not enough for us to express support. We must act. Because Black Lives Matter.”
NAPFA CEO Geoffrey Brown and Dave O’Brien, the chair of the organization’s board of directors, also wrote a letter of solidarity Wednesday.
“As an association and as individual financial planning professionals, we have an obligation and an opportunity to better understand what our profession can do to address systemic racism. NAPFA’s work in this regard is ongoing, but we must and will do more,” the statement said.
The association said it, along with the industry, can contribute to that mission by serving diverse communities and addressing disparities that have “hindered wealth creation among black and brown communities for generations.” Increasing diversity in the profession will help accomplish that, according to NAPFA.
NAPFA’s Diversity + Inclusion Steering Committee will meet in the coming weeks to discuss how else the organization can support its members, the letter said. “While it is imperative that we act, we must ensure that our approach is anchored in substance and focused on creating lasting change.”
The Financial Planning Association, or FPA, put out a statement Tuesday with a similar message to the other organizations: “FPA believes this profession can transform lives, but first, we need to build an inclusive community where all practitioners, including those of color, feel welcomed and supported. Until then, our work is not done.”
At least one advisor wasn’t totally satisfied with the responses.
“As a member of all [three] organizations, I have not received any emails. Why are these statements so hard to find? They leave a lot to be desired, but it's a start,” Waddell said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter.