Lifetime Pathfinder Winner: “Keep Hope Alive”

Janeesa Hollingshead, Executive Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

LeCount Davis, First African American To Receive CFP Designation And Founder Of The Association of African American Financial Advisors, Discusses History, DEI Solutions And Career Advice

As we honor achievement and courage with this month’s Pathfinder Awards – Top Black Industry Leaders of 2023, we name our first Lifetime Pathfinder Award winner, LeCount Davis, Founder of the Association of African American Financial Advisors (AAAA). He holds the position of Chairman Emeritus and is a member of the Board of Directors for the current year, after which he will transition to an advisory role.

Davis’ lifetime of leadership began in the 1960s as he earned accounting degrees, starting his practice in 1970 specializing in financial management, investment consulting, tax planning, small business management and financial planning, which continues today. He made history in 1976 as the first African American to be awarded the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation.  

Davis founded the AAAA in 2001 to address the needs of Black financial professionals, and has served as a lecturer in accounting at Howard University and in financial management at Howard’s School of Continuing Education.

We spent time with Davis to learn more about history, the current state of DEI in the wealth management industry, solutions for a better future and advice for Black students or career changers interested in wealth management. 

WSR: What was it like for Black professionals in wealth management when you took the CFP exam? Tell us about the difficulties you faced and how you overcame them.

Davis: When I received my CFP designation, wealth management was a relatively unknown field viewed as the combination of the skills of income tax professionals, accountants, lawyers and insurance representatives, with the understanding that Black financial professionals would find their primary marketing base among Black people. For me, this marketing base consisted of my tax and accounting clients. 

In pursuing a financial planning career, I understood that more financial diversification was needed to address the socioeconomic problems that plague our people and communities, including the lack of wealth accumulation and the transfer of wealth to future generations. I saw the situation that needed to be met for our people to survive and prosper in a changing financial and economic future.

WSR: What is your assessment of the current state of DEI in the wealth management industry? Where do we need to focus as an industry to move forward?

Davis: The problems and questions of the past still remain, but there is a different future for our DEl involvement and participation in the wealth management industry. The wealth accumulation and spending power of Black people have increased substantially but our financial behavior leaves much to be desired, which puts wealth transfer to future generations falling further behind. 

We know the problem but must address the solutions more intentionally and more aggressively to meet the challenges. The financial planning and service industry claimed the lack of Black people participating in the wealth management business was due to financial education, but that myth has been dismissed. 

Wealth manager retirements leave a large gap and the industry is considering ways to fill that gap that limit the opportunities for Blacks to enter and participate in the current and future plans of the industry. 

The other myth to dispel is that we do not have the necessary experience to help the industry be more competitive and profitable. 

I propose the following solutions:

The wealth management industry is built on competence, opportunities and trust. There is a plethora of talent in the Black population that can reduce the competency issue if only that talent is given the opportunity to be included in the future of the wealth management industry. The industry should promote paid internships to Blacks and include qualified Blacks in the C-suite where ideas are generated, operations are planned and decisions are made. 

Blacks can be trained and gain exposure in new areas. Knowledge does not come only from books. Executives with years of experience can expedite the knowledge base. Such moves will be cost-beneficial when you consider the big picture, and the representative gap will be filled without a loss of profitability.

WSR: What advice do you have for Black students or career changers who aspire to careers in wealth management?

Davis: Because I’m a product of the financial planning industry that encompasses wealth management, I believe learning the planning process is a good first step to a professional wealth management career. 

Train more talent

Many in the industry recognize the CFP as the gold standard of financial planning designations because education, ethics and a client focus are the keystones of the CFP. The industry will always include CFP holders in its employment plans. 

Wealth management is an ideal career for those of us who want to improve the socioeconomic conditions of our people and communities while enjoying a prosperous and rewarding career. The compensation is competitive and the future is unlimited. It is not all “peaches and cream” and takes hard work, perseverance and faith to succeed, but it is worth the effort. Keep hope alive

Janeesa Hollingshead, Executive Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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