WSR Pathfinder Awards – Top Black Industry Leaders Of 2024

Third Annual Series Of Pathfinder Awards Begins With Celebration Of Black History Month
Winners of the WSR Pathfinders Awards | Top Black Industry Leaders 2024

Today we launch our third year of the invitation-only WSR Pathfinder Awards series, which honors excellence in executives and professionals from underrepresented communities in wealth management and the organizations that advance them. Last year, we named winners in celebration of Black History Month, Women’s History Month, AAPI Heritage Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month, and this year we begin with the Top Black Industry Leaders of 2024.

As with past Pathfinder Awards, we examined potential candidates across the wealth management industry, searching for outstanding individuals who have demonstrated dedication to the industry, proven expertise with a strong track record, outsized influence and the ability to serve as role models for those who are considering or developing a career in wealth management. We also considered organizations that show leadership in advancing underrepresented communities, spearheading DEI initiatives that change the industry for professionals, advisors and clients.

Wealth Solutions Report | Top Black Leaders of 2024 Logo

In addition to spotlighting outstanding individuals and organizations, the Pathfinder Awards serve a second and critical purpose – to provide a platform for voices from underrepresented backgrounds and communities to address our industry about DEI concerns, so that we can improve as individuals and as an industry. We are concurrently publishing several articles with certain winners to fulfill this purpose.

This year, we honor the Organization of the Year as well as executives, advisors and professionals in two groups – Financial Advisor Leaders and Executives and Organizational Leaders. In the wake of the Superbowl, it’s worth noting that the NFL has done well in this installment of Pathfinder Awards, since two recipients formerly played professional football. Following our tradition, all winners are equally recognized and the names are in alphabetical order according to group.

Organization Of The Year: The Association Of African American Financial Advisors

The Association of African American Financial Advisors’ (AAAA) mission is to increase the representation of Black/African American financial advisors and provide financial planning services to African American families. It addresses the underrepresentation of Black advisors and lack of financial planning for Black communities, advocating for Black advisors and clients with organizations such as the SEC, where it addresses the complexity of examinations and paperwork for advisors serving diverse communities.

Christian Nwasike, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Association of African American Financial Advisors
Christian Nwasike, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Association of African American Financial Advisors

AAAA has grown rapidly from receiving support of $150,000 in 2017 to cash and in-kind funding of $2.1 million in 2023, which was not only an increase of multiples over 2017, but nearly doubled its 2022 support of $1.2 million. The organization’s membership has also experienced strong growth, with 2,100 dues-paying members and 9,000 advisors in its network in 2023. The organization’s strategic partners include J.P. Morgan, UBS and Merrill Lynch.

AAAA’s Chairman of the Board and CEO, Christian Nwasike, recently explained to WSR that Black-held wealth in the U.S. is projected to reach $103 trillion by 2050, potentially creating a wealth management crisis if the advisor-to-client ratio does not increase substantially in the Black community. The organization is implementing solutions such as a program to support the next generation of advisors, with approximately 300 early-career students approaching graduation.

Financial Advisor Leaders

Cedric Edwards, Financial Advisor, Stifel Independent Advisors

Cedric Edwards, Financial Advisor, Stifel Independent Advisors
Cedric Edwards, Financial Advisor, Stifel Independent Advisors

U.S. Air Force veteran Cedric Edwards, Financial Advisor at Stifel Independent Advisors (Stifel), has been mentoring for two decades, and is currently mentoring a younger Black financial advisor. Edwards’ mentoring activities reflect his dedication to diversity and inclusion in financial services.

Edwards, who joined Stifel in 2022, maintains an advisory practice in Shertz, Texas, near San Antonio, with a diverse client base predominantly comprised of former military personnel. He was recruited by Stifel’s former President and CEO, Alex David, who knew him in the early stages of his career and reconnected after over a decade.

Aside from serving his clients, Edwards actively focuses on lifting others in the industry and serving his community, with a commitment to recognizing, valuing and supporting those not easily recognized in the financial sector.

Ghislain Gouraige, Partner, NewEdge Wealth

Ghislain Gouraige, Partner, NewEdge Wealth
Ghislain Gouraige, Partner, NewEdge Wealth

NewEdge Wealth Partner Ghislain Gouriage’s family immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 8 years old. His political refugee parents instilled the value of “paying it forward” to Gouraige, who became determined to live the American dream. He began his career as a corporate and securities attorney and changed to a financial advisory career after two years, drawn by advisors’ flexibility and independence.

Currently leading NewEdge Wealth’s office in Coral Gables, Florida, where he has worked since 2022, Gouraige previously served at UBS Wealth Management as a Managing Director, and, prior to that, worked at Bank of America and Lehman Brothers. At NewEdge, he built a 14-person team of diverse backgrounds including Jewish, Latino and African American, which is also diverse in age and gender.

Gouraige noticed an absence of diverse mentors as he rose up the corporate ladder, so decided to become a mentor himself. He often provides advice to minority professionals on how to market their skills and navigate corporate challenges. He serves on the boards of COOP Careers, the James Brister Society of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and is Chairman of AYTI Community Trust.

Delvin Joyce, Financial Planner, Prosperity Wealth Group

Delvin Joyce, Financial Planner, Prosperity Wealth Group
Delvin Joyce, Financial Planner, Prosperity Wealth Group

Former NFL player Delvin Joyce, Financial Planner at Prosperity Wealth Group, part of Prudential Advisors, is among the firm’s top 10% of advisors in revenues according to Prudential. He served in various leadership roles at Prudential, including Managing Director of the South Florida Financial Group. In 2017, he founded the Prosperity Wealth Group financial planning practice under Prudential in Charlotte, North Carolina.

With a commitment to financial literacy to empower communities, Joyce regularly participates in events and seminars to promote financial wellness and volunteers time to financial literacy initiatives. He emphasizes service to minority markets, particularly African American, and works to bring education and empowerment to these markets through strategic relationships and seminars.

He has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, Money Magazine and Nerd Wallet, and was honored by Black Enterprise Magazine as a BE Modern Man in 2019. In his football career, he played for the New York Giants from 2002 to 2004 primarily as a return specialist, after beginning as a walk-on player for James Madison University.

Read our WSR Pathfinders interview with Delvin Joyce

Chloé A. Moore, Co-Founder, BLX Internship Program & Founder, Financial Staples

Chloé A. Moore, Co-Founder, BLX Internship Program & Founder, Financial Staples
Chloé A. Moore, Co-Founder, BLX Internship Program & Founder, Financial Staples

Chloé A. Moore founded fee-only firm Financial Staples in Atlanta in 2016 to address the needs of underrepresented and underserved populations in the technology industry, including women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. In addition to founding her own firm, after the death of George Floyd, Moore co-founded the BLX (BLatinX) Internship Program in December 2020 in the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the goal of providing opportunity for aspiring Black and Latinx financial planners to obtain internships at fee-only financial planning firms.

WSR named BLX Internships as the Hispanic Opportunity Organization of the Year as part of the Pathfinder Awards – Top Hispanic Industry Leaders of 2023. Its supporters include NAPFA, the CFP Board and Schwab. In addition to matching interns with firms, BLX also provides hiring, onboarding and DEI resources for firms, as well as professional development resources and a private online community for participating interns. It is developing an online community for participating firms and scholarship opportunities for CFP coursework, industry conferences and more.

Moore also volunteers for financial literacy initiatives and advocates for the advancement of female financial planners. She was recognized as one of Investopedia’s 100 Most Influential Financial Advisors in 2020 and 2021.

Read our WSR Pathfinders interview with Chloé A. Moore

Rick Nott, Managing Director, Angeles Wealth Management

Rick Nott, Managing Director, Angeles Wealth Management
Rick Nott, Managing Director, Angeles Wealth Management

Based in Angeles Wealth Management’s Santa Monica, California, office, Rick Nott joined the firm in December. Nott has over 15 years of wealth management experience. He previously was a Senior Wealth Advisor at LourdMurray and worked as an advisor at AdvicePeriod and Signature Estate and Investment Advisors. Nott started in the industry at United Capital Financial Advisors.

Nott concentrates in investment allocation and wealth planning that fits his clients’ values to preserve generational wealth. His clients include families, athletes, business owners and entrepreneurs.

He serves on the advisory board of Project ECHO, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurial training for high school students. Project ECHO partners with the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and Loyola Marymount University and aims to impact students through leadership, mentorship, friendship and business plan competitions.

Shawn Wooden, Financial Advisor, Vice President & Partner, Associated Investor Services

Shawn Wooden, Financial Advisor, Vice President & Partner, Associated Investor Services
Shawn Wooden, Financial Advisor, Vice President & Partner, Associated Investor Services

Former NFL and University of Notre Dame football player Shawn Wooden has over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. He joined Associated Investor Services, part of Osaic, in January 2020, and is based in Pembroke Pines, Florida. He served in multiple roles at Principal Financial Group, including as a Managing Director, as well as at AXA Advisors and MetLife.

Wooden is a “Top of the Table” member of the Million Dollar Round Table, an international association of over 29,000 life insurance and financial services professionals. He supports local charities including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Miami Dolphins Foundation.

Wooden is the Vice President of NFLPA Former Players South Florida Chapter, President of the Miami Dolphins Alumni Advisory Board and Chairman of the Maxwell Football Club. In his NFL career, he played nine seasons for the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears as a safety and in college football at Notre Dame as a cornerback. After retiring from the NFL, the Miami Dolphins Alumni Association presented him with the Unsung Hero Award.

Executives And Organizational Leaders

Toussaint Bailey, Founder & CEO, Uplifting Capital

Toussaint Bailey, Founder & CEO, Uplifting Capital
Toussaint Bailey, Founder & CEO, Uplifting Capital

Toussaint Bailey strives to uplift individuals and communities through sustainable investment strategies at Uplifting Capital, which he founded in 2020. People of color comprise 60% of the team at Uplifting Capital, which combines wealth management, private equity and impact investing. It connects advisors with private equity investments that have a sustainability and social responsibility focus. Within a year of launch, Bailey’s firm attracted over $35.8 million in investments.

Prior to founding Uplifting Capital, Bailey served in various roles at Enso Wealth Management, including Chairman. Under his leadership, Enso grew to nearly $2 billion in assets under management (AUM) and was acquired by Choreo. Before that, he was Partner at law firm Richards Watson Gerson and a law fellow at the Los Angeles City Attorney.

Bailey serves on the boards of and in advisory capacities for various organizations including the

Impact Investment Subcommittee of the Alternative & Direct Investment Securities Association, the Investor Advisory Board of the HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) Founder Initiative, the Executive Leadership Council of the Raphael House of San Francisco, the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Advisory Board of Catalyst Housing Group.

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
Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Founder & CEO, Lazetta & Associates and Co-CEO, 2050 Wealth Partners

Lazetta Rainey Braxton founded diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategy firm Lazetta & Associates in 2020 to help RIAs form culturally aware and hospitable workplace environments that support innovation and allocate equity through consultation sessions that examine, analyze and understand their approach, attitude, practices and processes regarding DEIB.

Braxton is a consultant, coach and public speaker who delivers keynote presentations and workshops. She is also Co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, which she co-founded, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.

Braxton was named as a 2021 Crain’s New York Business Notable Black Leader and Executive, as well as in the top 10 of Investopedia’s 100 Top Financial Advisors in 2019 and 2020. She 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 has appeared on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Nightly Business Report and CNBC’s Closing Bell. Braxton 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.

Read our WSR Pathfinders interview with Lazetta Rainey Braxton

Madelaine Brooks, Regional Director, Prudential Financial

Madeline Brooks, Regional Director, Prudential Financial
Madelaine Brooks, Regional Director, Prudential Financial

With a career spanning over three decades, Madelaine (Maddie) Brooks joined Prudential Financial 12 years ago. Prior to Prudential, she served 22 years at Julius Baer. Based in East Brunswick, New Jersey, she serves as a financial planner and Regional Director recruiting and mentoring diverse advisors. She focuses on retirement, education and small business in her work.

Brooks promotes financial wellness, particularly within the Black community, including through Prudential’s Advisory Board for Blueprints to Black Wealth and the Dfree program, which provides basic financial education on creating emergency funds and debt reduction. She educates congregants at a local church on investing and their broad financial needs.

Prudential recognized her with its National Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Advocacy Award. She has appeared on The Root Live TV and in Black Enterprise magazine, as well as the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, and she participates in the Oprah Winfrey Trailblazer Sponsorship Project.

Devon Drew, Founder and CEO, AssetLink
Devon Drew, Founder and CEO, AssetLink

Devon Drew founded AssetLink, an AI-based platform for fund discovery and distribution which announced its launch in January and previously operated as DFD (Diligence Fund Distributors). The platform enables asset managers to find and contact financial advisors and accredited investors who are seeking specific fund types or strategies, while also enabling advisors to connect with asset managers based on characteristics of their firms or funds.

The platform’s goal is to quicken sales cycles to save buyers and sellers time. At launch, 67 asset managers had profiles and approximately 7,400 advisors had opted into the platform. Initial asset managers included J.P. Morgan, American Century Investments, Simplify, Krane Shares, Harbor Capital Advisors and Shenkman Capital.

With over 16 years of experience, Drew previously worked at Vanguard, American Century Investments, Fred Alger Management, JPMorgan Chase and Merrill Lynch. While a Senior Executive at Vanguard, he led the financial advisor services businesses, which raised assets for the firm’s ETFs and mutual funds.

Scott Ford, President, Wealth Management, U.S. Bank

Scott Ford, President, Wealth Management, U.S. Bank
Scott Ford, President, Wealth Management, U.S. Bank

With over three years at U.S. Bank, Scott Ford leads the firm’s wealth businesses, including its Affluent Wealth Management, Private Wealth Management and Ascent Private Capital Management divisions, in addition to overseeing U.S. Bancorp Investments. Combined, these businesses have over 3,200 professionals.

With over two decades of industry experience, Ford previously worked at JPMorgan Chase in multiple roles including as a Regional Director of wealth management overseeing the firm’s largest wealth region, New York. He also worked at Citigroup in various roles in consumer banking and wealth management.

He serves on the board of the Bank Insurance and Securities Association as well as the board of his church and has donated time to civic and religious organizations in Long Island, New York, to help alleviate food insecurity.

George Nichols III, President & CEO, The American College Of Financial Services

George Nichols III, President & CEO, The American College of Financial Services
George Nichols III, President & CEO, The American College of Financial Services

George Nichols III is the 10th President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services, which he joined in 2018 after serving 17 years at New York Life in roles involving sales, strategic initiatives and public policy, as well as serving on its Executive Management Committee and as EVP in its Office of Governmental Affairs.

Prior to New York Life, Nichols was the first Black insurance commissioner of Kentucky, served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Health Policy Board, VP of Marketing for Athena of North America, Executive Director of Product Development with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kentucky, CEO of Central State Hospital in Louisville and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Mental Health Services.

He was named by Savoy to the list of Most Influential Black Corporate Directors three times, and among Forbes’ inaugural 2021 “The Culture 50 Champions.” He was also the first recipient of Business Insurance Magazine’s Alonzo Herndon Award.

Shundrawn Thomas, Founder & Managing Partner, The Copia Group

Shundrawn Thomas, Founder & Managing Partner, The Copia Group
Shundrawn Thomas, Founder & Managing Partner, The Copia Group

With over 25 years of financial services experience, Shundrawn Thomas founded The Copia Group in 2022, a private investment firm that provides capital for lower middle market companies for organic growth, acquisitions or recapitalizations and aims to achieve social impact through implementing scalable business models in the invested firms.

Before founding the firm, Thomas served as President of Northern Trust Asset Management and as a member of the executive management group of Northern Trust Corporation. At Northern Trust, he held various roles including Head of FlexShares ETFs, President of Northern Trust Securities and Head of Corporate Strategy. Prior to that, he worked at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

A sought-after speaker and thought leader, Thomas serves on the board of Reinsurance Group of America and as a trustee for the Financial Accounting Foundation. Black Enterprise Magazine named him among the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America in 2017. His philanthropy work includes serving as a trustee for Rush University Medical Center and Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry.

Edward Walters, SVP, Executive Leadership Team – Business Transformation, Lincoln Financial Group

Edward Walters, SVP, Executive Leadership Team – Business Transformation, Lincoln Financial Group
Edward Walters, SVP, Executive Leadership Team – Business Transformation, Lincoln Financial Group

Edward Walters performs a dual role at Lincoln Financial Group, which is the marketing name of Lincoln National Corporation, serving 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. Under Walters’ leadership, Osaic agreed to acquire Lincoln Wealth in December, a transaction we named as a Deal of the Year in our WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards.

Prior to Lincoln, Walters served as Investment Vehicle Product Leader & Head of Managed Accounts at T. Rowe Price; SVP, Head of Research, Product & Retirement Service at Janney Montgomery Scott; VP, Head of Wealth Management at Ferris Baker Watts; as well as KPMG and Legg Mason. At T. Rowe Price, he developed and brought to market a global managed account business model.

Walters is committed to DEI, launching and implementing DEI initiatives, including programs that develop minority corporate officers and financial literacy for underrepresented communities. 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.

Read our WSR Pathfinder interview with Edward Walters

Barrett Wragg, Head Of Institutional Consulting & Private Wealth, T. Rowe Price

Barrett Wragg, Head of Institutional Consulting & Private Wealth, T. Rowe Price
Barrett Wragg, Head of Institutional Consulting & Private Wealth, T. Rowe Price

Barrett Wragg has almost 23 years of experience at T. Rowe Price, where he rose the corporate ladder from intern to VP of T. Rowe Price Associates and T. Rowe Price Investment Services, and Head of Institutional Consulting and Private Wealth in the Wealth Management segment of the U.S. Intermediary (USI) channel of Global Distribution. He is a member of T. Rowe Price’s Black Leadership Council and is the former Chair of T. Rowe Price’s multicultural business resource group, MOSAIC.

In 2021, Wragg was named to the board of Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, an organization that amplifies the charitable work of financial advisors, employees and their firms through support from the financial services industry. He is also active in the Association of African American Financial Advisors, formerly serving on the organization’s board and chairing its partnership committee. In addition, he is a volunteer speaker for the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.

Outside of the office, Wragg enjoys time with family, chess and sports, including golf, racquetball and tennis. He lives in Fulton, Maryland, with his wife, Nesikah, and four children, Aden, Daryl, Daniel and Korinne.

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

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