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The American College of Financial Services Announces Four Steps Forward Initiative to Promote Upward Mobility and Wealth Building for Black America

The American College of Financial Services Announces Four Steps Forward Initiative to Promote Upward Mobility and Wealth Building for Black America

Viable action plan for financial services industry to make sustainable, generational change to promote racial equality and financial wellbeing

The College to launch new Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – August 19, 2020 – The American College of Financial Services announced today Four Steps Forward, a holistic initiative to help combat racial inequality, promote wealth creation in the Black community, and generate upward mobility in communities of color for future generations.

The College created Four Steps Forward around the principle that the financial services industry has a pressing obligation to address the systemic racism that exists today given the industry’s central role in helping people accumulate, retain, and distribute wealth. As such, the industry is best positioned to create real change in Black communities and to dismantle the pervasive racial inequality that it helped build.

“The financial services industry cannot afford to repeat past attempts to eradicate systemic racism and achieve the same insufficient outcomes. We must strive for common ground around this generational cause and work together to foster upward mobility and wealth creation for Black Americans,” said George Nichols III, President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services. “Our Four Steps Forward initiative presents a viable plan for sustainable and generational change that will both narrow the wealth gap and have a lasting effect on how the financial services profession best serves and understands all communities of color in what is fast-becoming a majority-minority nation.”

The College proposes that the financial services industry comes together to devote both its financial and intellectual capital to participate in these Four Steps Forward:

1. Develop financial literacy programs for Black women uniquely designed to address systemic wealth inequality and empower financial wellbeing. As breadwinners and household financial decision makers, legacy financial wellbeing for the Black community most often starts with Black women.

2. Create a collective impact initiative that can be executed at the community level, backed by financial resources and top-tier talent from national organizations. Working alongside local professionals, corporate America can create lasting change in how Black communities view and establish wealth.    

3. Identify and develop the next generation of Black leaders in financial services firms through an executive leadership program that supports career growth and stronger communication and relationship skills. This program will assist Black leaders with breaking through the ceiling present in the historically white, male-dominated corporate environment.  

4. Commit to purposeful professional development in the form of recruiting and retaining more Blacks in financial services, particularly by developing a blueprint for study groups to help equip Black professionals with a network of knowledge, and by rallying financial services firms and trade organizations to identify top advisors to serve as mentors and coaches for these professional study groups.  

To further support the long-term efforts of Four Steps Forward, The College will launch the Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality to catalyze, convene, and promote evidence-based knowledge around these efforts – leading to better-informed policy decisions and solutions for future generations. The Center will initially focus on the Black community and expand over time to empower other underrepresented and multicultural communities across the country through the financial services sector. Dr. Pamela Jolly, CEO of Torch Enterprises and expert in generational wealth building, will advise on the launch and help develop The Center’s infrastructure. The College will conduct a national search for an executive director to lead the new Center and has retained the firm Isaacson, Miller to manage the process.

A number of recently announced national commitments address racial inequality, yet many organizations are still looking to identify where best to invest their dollars and resources to make a difference. The College invites organizations and foundations from across the financial services industry – including banks and credit unions, insurance companies, broker-dealers, asset and wealth managers, financial technology firms and industry trade organizations – to join this initiative as founding sponsors and collaborators, and to provide the intellectual capital and philanthropic investments needed to establish a new, sustainable standard for racial equality and financial well-being.

To date, The College has received significant investment from a large financial services company and individual financial support from its Board of Trustees, as well as interest from several trade organizations and industry firms, making The Center well positioned to engage the diverse financial industry in this important Four Steps Forward initiative and welcome others to collaborate in this collective cause.

“As an accredited, non-profit institution that has educated financial professionals for a near-century, The College has the reputation, impartiality, and partner relationships in every sector to bring together the industry’s trade and financial services organizations to drive powerful action towards this common cause,” said Nichols. “Everyone is saying that this time ‘feels different.’ The financial services industry has the opportunity – and the obligation – to make sure that feeling becomes reality and who better than The American College of Financial Services to lead this effort.”

For more information, download The College’s Four Steps Forward action plan.


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 and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


Four Steps Forward