Ken Royster: Diversity is Good for Business

Julius Buchanan, Senior Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

First Genesis of Virginia CEO Promotes Internships and Explains Diversity as Growth Driver in Wealth Management Industry

For Black History Month WSR is highlighting African American industry leaders who made significant contributions to the industry and foster diversity in wealth management – today we spotlight Ken Royster

For nearly four decades, Ken Royster, President, CEO and Wealth Consultant of wealth management firm First Genesis of Virginia, and President and CEO of Heritage Financial Partners, a mission-driven financial services firm co-founded by Mr. Royster, has supported African American families to build intergenerational wealth. Through First Genesis and Heritage, he works to expand the wealth management services available to a traditionally underserved population. 

Ken Royster, President, CEO and Wealth Consultant, First Genesis of Virginia

An affiliate of Stratos Wealth Partners and LPL Financial headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, First Genesis’ eight-person team primarily serves African American investors on the East Coast, from Syracuse to Tampa, with $100 million in client assets. 

Heritage Financial Partners aims to enhance generational wealth transfer in minority communities, increase the number of financial professionals focused on Black and Hispanic investors and seed multi-generational financial services firms owned by Black and Hispanic financial professionals.

We spent time with Mr. Royster to ask about positive change in the wealth management industry and ways to further improve diversity.

WSR: What are the most significant changes you’ve seen in this industry since you started working in this space that have made it better for African American advisors?

Royster: The most significant changes centered around larger institutions embracing the fact that diversity, equity and inclusion are not only necessary due to demographic and economic changes, but more importantly they’re good for business! 

This has led to more African American entrants into the space and created opportunities for them to participate at many different levels within the financial services industry versus only as a financial advisor in the direct sale of financial products and services.

WSR: What more needs to be done to further improve the diversity of this industry?

Royster:  We need more advisors who are from and live in the communities that traditionally have not received equal access to wealth management services. One way we are addressing this issue is through a paid internship program targeting students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

We will bring in rising seniors to learn about the industry, client services and wealth management practices while they study to secure the necessary licensing to go directly into the business after graduation. 

Not only do these kinds of programs position younger people for success in this industry and address the wealth gap we see across the country, they expand the market for wealth management services to a client pool that has significant potential for growth over time.

WSR: What kind of support do you need to enact these changes?

Royster:  We need to make people understand this approach is non-concessionary. I’ve been working with Stratos and Jeff Concepcion for several years now, and their support of our firm enables us to bring wealth management services to Black communities and to grow a more profitable business. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion programs are socially and financially beneficial. We have incredible opportunities to expand the wealth management industry by providing better services to more communities.

Julius Buchanan, Senior Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jbuchanan@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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