I met with Christian Nwasike, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Association of African American Financial Advisors (AAAA), during the Financial Services Institute’s annual OneVoice conference. AAAA is a nonprofit organization that addresses the professional development needs and advocacy concerns of Black wealth management professionals across business lines including wirehouses, brokerages, RIAs and licensed home office professionals.
AAAA’s fundraising has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2017, it received approximately $150,000 in support. In 2023, it received cash and in-kind funding of $2.1 million, which was not only an increase of multiples over 2017, but nearly doubling its 2022 support of $1.2 million. The organization has received strong backing from firms such as J.P. Morgan, UBS and Merrill Lynch. Nwasike attributes much of this success to its public relations firm, Haven Tower, through its work bringing the AAAA brand and story to the industry’s attention.
The organization’s membership has also experienced strong growth, with 2,100 dues-paying members and 9,000 advisors in its network in 2023. Its goal is to have 20% of the approximately 50,000 Black advisors in the U.S. in its database and 10% as dues-paying members.
Nwasike addressed an upcoming crisis in financial advice. “The Black advisor-to-household ratio is unconscionable, and doesn’t support effective wealth transfers.” He explained that the 12.7 million Black households in the U.S. hold approximately $6.1 trillion in wealth, many times greater than the 2001 figure of $1 trillion. Projecting this growth rate to the year 2050, Black households could have approximately $103 trillion in 26 years.
According to Nwasike, the slow pace of adding Black advisors in our industry indicates a crisis in which Black households will not have adequate guidance and support from advisors to ensure the wealth stays in the community.
He addressed AAAA’s Next Gen program, with approximately 300 early career students near graduation. The program presents them with opportunities in wealth management, talent development, internships and more. Eighty percent of the participants are Black, and the remaining 20% are from other demographics.
Nwasike said that being a contributor to America’s economic health is everyone’s responsibility. “Here’s what wakes me up in the morning: I’ve got to be a contributor. It’s our burden and we can solve it. Our country calls on us – all demographic groups – to contribute growth.”
Julius Buchanan, Editor in Chief at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com.