Lincoln’s Walters Shares On DEI Initiatives That Yield Results

Pathfinder Winner Describes Successful DEI Programs, How He Chose Wealth Management And How Black Students And Early Career Professionals Can Develop Leadership
Edward Walters, SVP, Executive Leadership Team – Business Transformation, Lincoln Financial Group
Edward Walters, SVP, Executive Leadership Team – Business Transformation, Lincoln Financial Group

As we celebrate Black History Month by announcing the year’s first group of Pathfinder Awards, we invite some of the winners to speak to the WSR community so that we may improve as individuals and as an industry as we address issues of DEI in wealth management. In this article, we hear from Edward Walters, who is among WSR’s Top Black Industry Leaders of 2024 in the category of Executives and Organizational Leaders.

Walters serves in a dual role at Lincoln Financial Group, which is the marketing name of Lincoln National Corporation, both as COO of the Lincoln Financial Network enterprise and Head of the wealth management business, Lincoln Wealth, which comprises broker-dealer and RIA firms Lincoln Financial Advisors Corporation and Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation.

Walters has launched and implemented several DEI initiatives, including programs that develop minority corporate officers and financial literacy for underrepresented communities, which he discussed below. He serves on the boards of the Foundation for Financial Planning, the Urban League of Philadelphia and the Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Center for Business Ethics at St. Joseph’s University.

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We spoke with him about his experiences promoting DEI initiatives, how he chose a career in wealth management and career advice for a Black student or early career professional.

WSR: Tell us about your experiences promoting diversity, equity and inclusion as a cultural leader and talent developer.

Walters: Shortly after joining Lincoln Financial Group, I established the financial literacy program LincABLE. LincABLE is focused on cultivating the next generation of diverse professionals and providing opportunities for students from underserved communities with a formal paid internship, financial education and mentorship. Through LincABLE, I have actively worked towards bridging the financial literacy and wealth gap.

Additionally, I co-founded Leaders in Motion, a program specifically designed for corporate officers and executives from diverse backgrounds at Lincoln Financial Group. This program focuses on accelerating professional growth through formal training, case studies, executive leadership engagement and mentorship. By proactively engaging these leaders from underrepresented groups, we have fostered a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

By proactively engaging leaders from underrepresented groups, we have fostered a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture.

Furthermore, I have served as an executive sponsor of several programs, including an annual technology hackathon, which partners with historically Black colleges and universities. This initiative not only promotes diversity in the tech industry but also creates a space for innovation and collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds. My experience in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion has been instrumental in creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals to thrive and succeed.

WSR: How did you choose a career in wealth management? What inspired you to aim for executive leadership?

Walters: Although I have always had an interest in investing and wealth management, I didn’t choose to pursue it as a career until late in college. I originally majored in music theory and composition and thought that I would become a composer. While in college I began to recognize the limitations of a career in the arts and started to look for opportunities that aligned with my interest. Fortunately I have a cousin who is a portfolio manager and CEO of an asset management company. Spending time with him during my formative years fueled my interest in the securities market, investing and – later – in wealth management.

Visiting my cousin’s office during college fueled my curiosity and passion for the industry. Seeing him and other investment professionals on his team in action provided me with firsthand exposure to the dynamic and fast-paced environment of the investment industry. It was during these moments that I realized the potential in this field, which prompted me to make the decision to change my major to economics.

This experience led me to wealth management as a career, inspired me to create LincABLE, and started my executive leadership journey.

WSR: What advice do you have for a Black student or early career professional who wants a career in wealth management leadership?

Walters: For a Black student or early career professional aspiring to pursue a career in wealth management leadership, my advice is to first focus on acquiring technical knowledge, gaining valuable experience and developing expertise in the field. However, equally crucial is the emphasis on learning how to lead effectively through both authority and influence. In the early stages of your career, mastering leadership through authority is essential, but as you progress and take on broader responsibilities, leading by influence becomes a critical tool.

As you progress and take on broader responsibilities, leading by influence becomes a critical tool.

To excel in any executive leadership role, it is vital to understand how to align individuals who you do not have direct authority over and motivate them to work towards a shared goal. Developing the ability to cast a compelling vision, articulate strategies effectively and inspire confidence in your team members is key to gaining their trust and support. Leadership is a skill that requires continuous study and evolution, emphasizing the importance of ongoing learning and growth in your leadership journey.

By honing both your technical expertise and leadership skills, you can pave the way for a successful career in wealth management or any other field.

Michael Madden, Contributing Editor and Research Analyst at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at mmadden@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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