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Monday, October 22, 2018

Industry: Diversity & Inclusion - CFP Board & NAPFA

By Cory Roberson, Principal at FINCompliance and FIN Lancer
By Cameo Roberson, Principal at Atlas Park Consulting & Finance

Diversity & inclusion initiatives

October 9, 2018.  During a luncheon, that featured a keynote address from the first African American CFP-recipient* in the United States, more than 200 industry professionals joined together in celebrating diversity and inclusion.  

The Investment News Diversity and Inclusion awards, with more than 25 recipients, recognized the achievements of underrepresented professionals in the investment management industry. The luncheon was held at the Hotel Edison in New York City.

Under representation continues to be an issue for some minority professionals.  According to the CFP Board, less than 3.5 percent of all 80,000 CFP® professionals in the United States are black or LatinoIn a CFP survey conducted amongst industry professionals, “Some 27% of black CFPs and 29% of black and Latino business prospects cited [companies reluctant to hire or promote] people of color as the broad reason (for under representation )”.

Recipients included: Cameo Roberson, a Rising Star award recipient, Principal of Atlas Park Consulting & Finance**, and my sister.  See shares her experiences below.  

Participants included (photo): LeCount Davis, Cameo Roberson, Gurinder S. Ahluwalia,
Lee Baker, Tony Barrett, Louis Barajas, Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Joshua T. Charles, Nandita Das, Jennifer Hatch, John Rogers, Tracey Tynes, Pamela Brylski, Divam Mehta, and representatives from organization winners (as mentioned below) *.

Cameo’s work on Diversity and Inclusion (D & I)
Q.  What are your observations on diversity in the industry?

A.  As an African American woman, there were a few challenges towards climbing the ladder for leadership roles in the investment industry.   One was a lack of role models who looked like me---I did not see many black women in the industry, and yet alone, those who reached leadership ranks.  

Many advisors also see diversity as an issue.  According to a 2018 Fidelity Talent and Diversity Study, 68% of advisors are keenly aware that talent acquisition is a problem in the advice industry.   A lack of training and mentorship could also be exacerbating the issue for diversity in talent and acquisition.    

During the span of my 15+ year career, I felt that there was a lack of support of training and mentorship programs that provided a clear path to leadership roles.  While challenging this notion, I took steps to identify mentors and expand my network in the industry.

First, I sought to identify cheerleaders and confidants to push me forward in my professional aspirations. Next, I became an advocate for pursuing opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities as a leader.  As such, I used this foundation to build a strong network of professionals who believe in me like my inner circle of friends and family. 

Q.  How did you start working with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (“NAPFA”)?

A. While building a strong network, I realized that there were other women of color going through similar experiences.  As such, I sought initiatives to create a pathway for advisors of color to succeed in this profession.  In 2016, a conference sponsored by NAPFA changed the trajectory of my work in diversity and inclusion.  

Daphne Jordan CFP®, another proponent of inclusion, and I engaged in a discussion with NAPFAs CEO, Geoff Brown surrounding the lack of diversity.  In our mutually beneficial discussion, we formed the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, as a part of NAPFA’s existing efforts.  Daphne and I are now champions for diversity initiatives within the organization.

Our efforts are growing.  We now have a core committee of eight advisors from across the country working to create programs for advisors of color to thrive.  One such goal, announced on September 13, 2018, was a Diversity & Inclusion scholarship program for financial professionals to attend NAPFA’s national conference. The Fall 2018 NAPFA conference took place from October 15 – 18th in Philadelphia. 

The CFP Board's Center for Financial Planning is hosting a Diversity Summit on October 23rd in New York City (at the time of this writing).  

Q.  What inspires you to pursue these goals?

A. For my brother and I, my parents instilled that we could do anything we aspired to become.  As such, my career ambitions grew towards leadership, training, and advocacy.  My passion for this industry, along with my professional background and initiatives, is now aligned to promote diversity and inclusion. With that said, I seek to help balance this profession with qualified talent representing diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

In an industry that is becoming more and more automated, diverse talent can be the defining component for firms to remain competitive and to meet their client’s needs.  With that said, I believe that firms who can adopt those measures may realize higher levels of both talent and client satisfaction.

Q. What was discussed in the Diversity and Inclusion workshops?

A. The Investment News Diversity workshop included to following: “Diversity is a Three-Pronged Solution”

Core Benefits 

Diversity offers an untapped opportunity to help solve the talent crisis;
Diversity can give firms a better chance of meeting the evolving needs of the investor population; and
Diversity focused firms show stronger business performance.

Other Winners

*LeCount Davis, the first African American to receive the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  

LeCount Davis

Gurinder S. Ahluwalia, CEO of 280 Capital Markets;
Lee Baker, President of Apex Financial Services;
Tony Barrett, Managing Director, Raymond James & Associates;
Louis Barajas, Principal of Wealth Management LAB 
Cameo Roberson and Louis Barajas

Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Principal of Financial Foundations;
Joshua T. Charles, Principal of Financial-360;
Nandita Das, Principal, Das Financial Health;
Jennifer Hatch, Principal of Christopher Street Financial;
John Rogers, Principal of Arial Investments;
Tracey Tynes, VP of Wells Fargo Advisors;
Pamela Brylski, VP of Goldman Sachs;
Divam Mehta, President of Mehta Financial Group

Firms/Organization Winners*

CFP Board
Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, Executive Director of CFP Board

Financial Freedom, Wealth Management Group
Wealth Consulting Group
Broadridge Financial Solutions
Impax Asset Management/PAX World Funds
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Northern Trust Asset Management
Oppenheimer Funds
Raymond James Financial
Schwab Advisor Services 

About Atlas Park**:  Atlas Park Consulting & Finance is at the intersection of intelligent business solutions and holistic personal financial advice.  Atlas Park is a dual-purposed firm rooted in the financial planning profession - providing personal wealth management strategies for women, enhancing client service operations for advisors, and providing strategic leadership for firms to create effective diversity and inclusion programs.

In terms of personal finance, we inspire women to better manage their money.  Focusing on personal finance foundations, our service allows women to obtain clarity in the pursuit of their financial objectives, ultimately realizing their goals faster.

By consulting with advisors, we design service operation road maps for firms to better serve their clients.  We use our expertise to ensure that advisors obtain the best tools and systems; structuring operations in a way to make good on their client service promises.

Our inclusion initiatives help advisors to develop a stronger platform for talent acquisition and diversity within their firms.  We equip firms with actionable steps on boosting firm culture, incorporating talent, and generating a positive return on investment (“ROI”)

Compliance and Business Management

FIN Compliance ( is a consortium of compliance services including: RIA Consults-Roberson Consults Group, a compliance consulting firm, RIA Review, a compliance-management software tool (SaaS), B-D Review, a RIA/Broker-Dealer compliance management software tool, and FINLancer is a business management portal featuring:  E-signature tools; Invoicing integration, Vendor Directory, continuity directory*, business client document portal, and more (available by Q3 2019).  Access all services on one site:


FIN Missions ( provides business support group sessions for other entrepreneurs.  In addition, Cory has volunteered for more than fifteen youth programs in locations such as like S. Korea, China, S. Africa, Thailand, and India.

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