Black Women Critical Market for Financial Services Industry, Yet Three in Five Expressed Difficulty Finding Advisors They Trust

Black Women Critical Market for Financial Services Industry, Yet Three in Five Expressed Difficulty Finding Advisors They Trust

Inaugural study from The American College Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality indicates Black women are strategic financial decision makers with significant influence, purchasing and earning power for their families and communities

Trust Study shows opportunity for financial services industry to better connect Black women to the entire wealth journey with tailored, trusted advisory relationships

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – November 9, 2021 – According to the initial Black Women, Trust, and the Financial Services Industry Study, three in five Black women expressed difficulty in finding financial professionals or advisors they trust. The research found that engagement of the Black community within the financial services industry is largely transactional – not advisory – and that Black women are less aware of the different types of relationships they can have with financial advisors and institutions, an especially concerning finding given Black women play a prominent earning and financial decision-making role in Black households and communities.

The Trust Study, comprised of 3,500 middle-income Black women, found that they experience discrimination and difficulty accessing wealth-building tools, with ‘lack of trust’ as the second most cited reason why this group is not accessing financial services.

These findings are part of the inaugural iteration of the Black Women, Trust, and the Financial Services Industry Study from The American College Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality (CEEE). The research sought to understand Black women’s unique financial, social, and emotional insights concerning their wealth journey, its linked impact on their families and communities, and what Black women want and need from the financial services industry to succeed financially.

“Black women are aspiring for financial stability for themselves, but at the same time they want to use their economic power to build a better future for their families and their communities,” said Karim Hill, executive director of the Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality. “The financial services industry has an opportunity to increase awareness of what is possible for Black women and their wealth with trusted advisory services, products, professionals, and investments in advisor diversity and Black-owned financial institutions. The industry must begin providing trusted advice uniquely tailored to Black women who desire to better navigate the world we are living in.”

Need for More Culturally Relevant Research and Analysis Essential to Uncover Opportunities for Change

This Trust Study provides a reintroduction to Black women through their own words, in a narrative exploration with statistical significance, and explores new thinking around better serving Black women, their households, and their communities concerning their wealth wants and needs. According to this research, providing information about the questions to ask about savings, investing, and transferring wealth is an easy way to build trust and better relationships with Black women.

The research underscored three cultural norms critical to Black women’s financial decision-making and relationships with the financial services industry. Among the emerging themes:

Importance of trust in decision-making

  • 60% of respondents expressed difficulty in finding financial professionals or advisors who they trust
  • ‘Lack of trust’ was the second most cited reason after ‘too expensive’ for why this group is not accessing financial services

Priority of community / family rather than a focus on ‘rugged individualism’

  • 62.5% of respondents in higher-income households stated it was important to build wealth for the community
  • 58% believe Black institutions can provide the tools to serve their needs

Value of interpersonal community and relationships

  • Black women trust financial services professionals to a greater degree (~10% more) than financial services organizations – reiterating the importance of trust and personal relationships
  • Black women (58%) are more likely to report that racial identity affects how they are treated by financial services professionals than gender

“This research validates how our Four Steps Forward approach charts a collective pathway for impact that goes beyond the transaction, beyond savings and debt products, to deliver culturally relevant messages embedded in deep, personal advisory relationships across a Black woman’s wealth journey,” said George Nichols III, President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services. “Black women are gatekeepers of their families and communities, and many serve as the primary breadwinner and financial decision-maker of their households. The College is committed to evidence-based, data-driven indicators – like this inaugural Trust Study – that serve as an inquiry of what Black women need to succeed financially and an invitation to be part of an industry-wide solution.”

The Trust Study highlights why a cultural lens must be used when investing in ways to accelerate the economic strength of Black women, a key customer segment that needs increased awareness and support from the financial services industry.

Among other key takeaways from the research:

  • Emergency savings, retirement funds, and credit scores are top priorities for Black women – as well as major sources of concern
  • Racial identity is significant for Black women in both their financial decision-making and their financial services institutions
  • Black women do trust financial services, but they are more trusting of Black-owned institutions

“The research underscores that industry engagement of the Black community is largely transactional, not advisory. What really works are long-term advisor relationships that lead to wealth creation across generations,” said Dr. Pamela Jolly, Senior Strategist, The American College of Financial Services.

“We must identify ways to better connect Black women with advisory relationships,” Jolly continued. "That starts with establishing an understanding of who Black women are before selling to them, connecting products and services to Black women’s values, highlighting Black professionals’ role in the industry as trusted brokers, and building a diverse network of formal and informal channels to connect Black women to their desired wealth outcomes.”

The financial services industry has an opportunity to move beyond a transactional relationship with Black women to one that provides planning with product support – not product as an insular solution. By creating greater access to applied financial knowledge and community solutions, The College strives to narrow the wealth gap and benefit society through generational financial literacy that empowers and educates. The financial services industry can complement these efforts with products and services specifically designed to help Black families create and sustain wealth-building practices.

Learn more about the Trust Study, the Four Steps Forward and the Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality at TheAmericanCollege.edu/BlackTrust.

###

STUDY METHODOLOGY

Information for this study was gathered between July and September 2021. The quantitative study of 3,500 Black women explored the central reasons for and places of Black women’s trust and distrust of the financial services industry. These findings informed a qualitative study in which The College spoke with respondents to gain deeper insights into the needs, wants, and aspirations of Black women. The median income of survey respondents was $60,000. The study goes beyond basic financial characteristics to look at the role of cultural beliefs, racial identities, and linked fate in financial decision-making. By combining quantitative and qualitative methods, the study creates a holistic picture of Black women as financial consumers and decision-makers.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES
The American College of Financial Services was founded in 1927 and is the nation’s largest nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has educated one in five financial advisors across the United States and offers two master’s degrees in management and financial services, along with prestigious financial planning designations such as the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®), Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®), Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), and education leading to the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) certification. The College’s faculty represents some of the foremost thought leaders in the financial services profession. Visit TheAmericanCollege.edu and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.