Pathfinder Winner: Transparent Conversation Leads To Trust And Innovation

Advisor And Business Strategist Lazetta Rainey Braxton Discusses Openness And Transparency, Her Inspiration And How Our Industry Must Develop
Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Founder & CEO, Lazetta & Associates and Co-CEO, 2050 Wealth Partners
Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Founder & CEO, Lazetta & Associates and Co-CEO, 2050 Wealth Partners

Each installment of the WSR Pathfinder Awards includes an opportunity for voices of leaders from underrepresented backgrounds to address our industry. A Pathfinder Awards – Top Black Industry Leaders of 2024 winner in the category of Executives and Organizational Leaders, Lazetta Rainey Braxton founded diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategy firm Lazetta & Associates in part to do exactly that.

Lazetta & Associates helps RIAs form culturally aware and hospitable workplace environments that support innovation and allocate equity through consultation sessions that examine, analyze and understand their approaches, attitudes, practices and processes regarding DEIB. Braxton is also Co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, which she co-founded, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.

Braxton received the Leadership Legacy Award from the Association of African American Financial Advisors and the Heart of Financial Planning award from the Financial Planning Association. She serves as the Founding President of the AAAA Foundation, a member of the Grace Church School Finance Committee and a member of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council.

We spoke with Braxton about her inspiration, how wealth management needs to improve and the “no fear, no shame zone.”

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WSR: Tell us about the “no fear, no shame zone.”

Braxton: In my work as a financial advisor and business strategist, the “no fear, no shame zone” represents safe spaces for financial planning clients and workplace leaders to engage in robust conversations about life, money, culture and talent. This zone aims to remove F.O.G.S. (fear, obligation, guilt and shame) that often inhibit honest and productive partnerships among households and workplaces.

By fostering openness and transparency, this zone empowers individuals to voice concerns, ask questions and share ideas without fear of judgment or repercussions. This leads to increased trust, collaboration and innovation, ultimately benefiting all parties involved. The engagement honors the unique capabilities of each individual – their human capital – and transforms it into financial and social capital for their benefit and for the greater good.

WSR: What is the wealth management industry doing right for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, and where do we need to improve?

Braxton: While it remains unfortunate that George Floyd’s murder in 2020 served as a tragic catalyst for industry change, this fatal situation among a series of injustices sparked an increased awareness in systemic inequalities and redirection of resources to talent management. Firms augmented their cultural competency efforts by implementing diversity and inclusion training for leaders, attracting and retaining talent from diverse backgrounds, launching mentorship initiatives for underrepresented groups and redesigning marketing anchored in culturally aware communication.

The industry’s challenges ahead lie with consistently advancing marginalized populations in an intentional, equitable manner.

The wealth management industry’s challenges ahead lie with consistently advancing marginalized populations in an intentional, equitable manner. The income and wealth gaps remain persistent, the client population continues to look despairingly different from the advisor population and fintech advances lag in capability to equip financial planners to help clients advance on the wealth spectrum.

WSR: Tell us about the people and experiences that inspire you.

Braxton: Launching my professional career as an internal auditor for Marriott International represented a profound foundation for my career trajectory. I was one of 13 college interns who was offered and accepted a full-time position upon graduation. A high-profile department, the audit team reported directly to the C-suite leadership, ensuring that existing and new business lines met the company’s high standards.

With extreme gratitude, I was mentored by Black managers and colleagues at the top of their games. Collectively, we represented 15% of the team and were valued for our contributions – which was extremely unheard of then and now! One of my high-profile assignments include serving on the Ritz Carlton acquisition team where I was an interim property Assistant Controller at age 22.

The skills I learned as a business financial and operational strategist, leader and team player remain invaluable. My audit experience also exposed me to the strength of diverse leaders and teams in directly impacting the bottom line through equitably honoring and rewarding human capital. It taught me never to accept or settle for anything less.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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