Conversation with the President: A Commitment to Sustainable, Equitable Empowerment

Conversation with the President: A Commitment to Sustainable, Equitable Empowerment

Conversation with the President: A Commitment to Sustainable, Equitable Empowerment
George Nichols III
Apr 26, 2021

With the demographic makeup of the country fundamentally transforming in real time, more  attention is being paid to the  underserved communities still struggling to or achieve fair opportunity and access to a fulfilling, personal relationship with wealth. To address this, The College has established a new Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality to reach out to communities in need of support—but the commitment to change can’t stop there.

In this installment of Conversation with the President, I explain the mission of the Center, future initiatives to address racial and wealth inequality, and what financial services professionals and the industry at large can do to help.

Jared Trexler: At The American College of Financial Services, we're always engaging in the conversations of the day, giving meaning to financial markets and the issues that matter. The paths and partnerships for these conversations are guided by President George Nichols III, the 10th President in The College's storied history. Today, George and I are sitting down for another installment of Conversations with the President.

George, I want to talk about the new Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality. As we move through 2021, there's a lot of public excitement, and internal excitement, about this new center. We have a new executive director, Karim Hill, and a new storytelling website. As President of The College, broadly speaking, what's happening behind the scenes that you're really excited about?

George Nichols III: First, we're excited that The American College of Financial Services has an opportunity to play a critical role in national unrest around economic justice for underrepresented groups. Second, when we think about the underrepresented groups in America that haven’t been able to take advantage of all of the financial and economic opportunities that our great country offers, those individuals, not only will we be able to impact their financial wellbeing, but more importantly, we’re introducing ourselves because they are the future students of The American College. Those will be their future financial advisors. When you think about the demographics of our country, The American College is already engaged in those lives today, so that we can again be their lifelong learning partner as they engage in the business of financial services.

Jared: So, I'm a financial professional who listens to this interview, or maybe navigates to the center's website, and I love what I hear or read. I'm drawn to the mission and the initiative. To get involved, should I be advocating internally at my firm? What steps can I take?

President Nichols: Yes, that's the first thing you should do. You should be engaging and being an advocate at your firm. The most important thing that we see for those who want to get involved is we ask that first, you're being successful in knocking the ball out of the park in your own production, so that when you do speak, your voice is loud and clear and your leaders are listening. Second, we want you to be a mentor. Are you taking people under your wing and helping them develop so that there are more voices advocating for the importance of equal opportunity and equal justice from an economic standpoint for all? And third, we're asking you, "Hey, start a study group, or join a study group," where that you can expand the knowledge that you know to more people, so that we can produce more successful advisors in this space. Remember, the new center's name is "The Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality." The word I want to focus here on is empowerment. You are empowered to be an advocate and speak on behalf of those who are not heard.

Jared: So George, what's in the incubator for the rest of the year? How is the Center's work linked directly to The College's work?

President Nichols: Well, probably the biggest thing right now in our incubator is a research project around trust. Now, this focus of research is going to be on black females in terms of where and who do they trust to get their financial information from. Think about the power of understanding trust, which is so critical in financial services, regardless of which group you represent, what your gender is, it’s important for an advisor to be trusted by those that they're advising. Second, we believe that it's important that as we develop our executive leadership program to help Blacks navigate corporate America, are things that we'll be able to apply to all of our programs across The College. There are two things that we've really been focused on over the last couple of years that really are coming to fruition in this new incubator. One is the impact of the digital world and where we get our information from how we get it, and the second is behavioral finance. The issue around behavior, but more importantly, the trust and the relationship between the advisor. It's not that I have a relationship with you just because I made a sale, but do I really know you? And do you really believe in me, and the advice that I'm giving you to help you achieve your lifelong ambition?

Jared: Thank you, George. So, this research around trust really will have far-reaching impact across The College and its initial work within the center and Four Steps Forward, and direct impacts on the profession. Thanks again for joining me today for another Conversation with the President.

President Nichols: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about the excitement we have around the new Center for Economic Empowerment and Equality.