Lead Gen­er­a­tion

Allan Boomer of Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors has joined the ranks of ex­pe­ri­enced ad­vi­sors who are men­tor­ing new plan­ners as they join a de­mand­ing but re­ward­ing pro­fes­sion.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By An­drew Welsch

Allan Boomer of Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors has joined the ranks of ex­pe­ri­enced ad­vi­sors who are men­tor­ing new plan­ners as they join a de­mand­ing but re­ward­ing pro­fes­sion. Boomer and five other wealth man­agers tell how they coun­tered chal­lenges and built their busi­nesses.

Walk around any generic wealth man­age­ment con­fer­ence and it shouldn’t take you long to no­tice that the in­dus­try has a di­ver­sity prob­lem. The ad­vi­sor pop­u­la­tion is over­whelm­ingly white, older and male.

At first glance, it ap­pears that splashy, well-pub­li­cized ef­forts to at­tract more young peo­ple of di­verse back­grounds to the pro­fes­sion still haven’t taken root.

But that over­looks a quiet yet pow­er­ful trans­for­ma­tion un­der­way: Ad­vi­sors have been rolling up their sleeves to men­tor mi­nor­ity new­com­ers for plan­ning ca­reers, giv­ing them the nec­es­sary tools to es­tab­lish them­selves.

Their ef­forts come amid re­newed fo­cus on di­ver­sity in the work­place and in U.S. so­ci­ety at large.

What pro­fes­sional men­tors ac­com­plish with sup­port and guid­ance can have a far-reach­ing im­pact that lingers long af­ter head­lines about protests have faded.

Allan Boomer’s in­de­pen­dent firm, Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors, is a re­flec­tion of where all this is headed: a group of pro­fes­sion­als, of di­verse back­grounds and ages, help­ing one an­other suc­ceed in an in­dus­try that is chal­leng­ing, but pro­fes­sion­ally and per­son­ally re­ward­ing. “I’m re­ally proud not just of our di­ver­sity, but the cal­iber of the team,” he says.

Boomer, who got his start at Gold­man Sachs in 2004, founded his New York-based firm in 2012. Since then, the staff has grown from just him to in­clude nine other pro­fes­sion­als, op­er­at­ing from two of­fices and over­see­ing more than $300 mil­lion in client as­sets.

Tiffany Hawkins, the firm’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, says, “I feel like some­times peo­ple think that there isn’t room for them in this in­dus­try, that they’ll be go­ing up against older white men. But there’s plenty of room. You’re not go­ing up against any­one other than your­self.”

Hawkins changed ca­reers, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked as an in­vest­ment plan­ner for the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. She joined Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors in 2014 and cred­its Boomer and her col­leagues with help­ing her de­velop her fi­nan­cial plan­ning skills.

“I’m black, a woman and I’m young,” she says. “This is not your tra­di­tional wealth man­age­ment per­son. So it’s im­por­tant to see peo­ple like you who are suc­cess­ful.”

She adds, “When you see it, it’s like some­one put a cape on your back with an ‘S,’ and you feel like you can take over the world.”

CON­FI­DENCE BUILDER

Fi­nan­cial plan­ning has al­ways been a tough in­dus­try for young pro­fes­sion­als to es­tab­lish them­selves in, and men­tor­ing has tra­di­tion­ally played a key role in help­ing many of the in­dus­try’s best ad­vi­sors and man­agers suc­ceed.

Ja­son Bowles, an ad­vi­sor at RBC since 2000, says that of the 30 re­cruits in his train­ing class, only five sur­vived the hard early years, when many ad­vi­sors strug­gle to build a ros­ter of clients.

“I think there is space and op­por­tu­nity for mi­nor­ity ad­vi­sors, and we need them,” Bowles says. “It’s not an easy job, but with pas­sion and hard work you can be suc­cess­ful. It’s crit­i­cal to find the right fit with a com­pany and a boss who will sup­port and ad­vo­cate for you.”

Mo­men­tum ad­vi­sor Kyle Pitts says that Boomer, whom he has known since they grew up to­gether in New Jersey, be­came one of his chief men­tors when he joined the in­dus­try af­ter study­ing engi­neer­ing at Howard Uni­ver­sity.

“He’s been in the busi­ness longer than I have, and I didn’t have a busi­ness back­ground. I had to tran­si­tion over to this world, where he was al­ready thriv­ing,” Pitts says. “That re­la­tion­ship is maybe less than a men­tor-mentee, be­cause we’re build­ing a firm to­gether, but it’s still ac­count­abil­ity and foun­da­tional prin­ci­ples.”

‘KEEP THROW­ING PITCHES’

Even shar­ing a few words of en­cour­age­ment can make a dif­fer­ence. Tony Bar­rett, a Philadel­phia com­plex man­ager at Ray­mond James & As­so­ciates, cred­its his branch man­ager with help­ing him over­come the dif­fi­cul­ties he en­coun­tered as a young ad­vi­sor.

“For me, it was great that some­one taught me how to build a book and find a tar­get mar­ket,” Bar­rett re­calls. “But the things I re­mem­ber most are the things that kept me in the seat.”

He re­calls a day early in his ca­reer

AD­VI­SORS HAVE BEEN ROLLING UP THEIR SLEEVES TO MEN­TOR MI­NOR­ITY NEW­COM­ERS FOR PLAN­NING CA­REERS, GIV­ING THEM THE NEC­ES­SARY TOOLS TO ES­TAB­LISH THEM­SELVES.

when, with frus­tra­tions mount­ing, he be­gan to think about quit­ting. But his branch man­ager and men­tor pulled him aside and re­as­sured him that every young ad­vi­sor goes through sim­i­lar grow­ing pains.

“When I was cold-calling, I was al­ways told that the next call could change your ca­reer,” Bar­rett says. “It’s true. That call can turn into a cli-

ent that gives you a ton of money or a ton of re­fer­rals. But you have to be in a po­si­tion where you can keep throw­ing pitches.”

He adds: “When I men­tor peo­ple, that’s some­thing I al­ways try to think about: What will in­still con­fi­dence?”

Boomer also points to how con­fi­dence is es­sen­tial to stick­ing it out in a pro­fes­sion where the first 49 prospects might re­ject you, be­fore you land one as a client.

“The big­gest thing I had as a 27-year-old; … I’m go­ing to call it false con­fi­dence,” Boomer re­calls of his early days at Gold­man Sachs.

“Maybe that came from work­ing at a great firm. They re­ally pumped me up and made me feel like I was the man. But even­tu­ally that false con­fi­dence was re­placed with real con­fi­dence based on real com­pe­tency.”

NOT ON TRACK

To be sure, the men­tor­ing done by Boomer, Bar­rett and oth­ers are not iso­lated oc­cur­rences. In­dus­try­wide, wealth man­age­ment firms and trade or­ga­ni­za­tions are re­dou­bling their ef­forts to at­tract new­com­ers from di­verse back­grounds.

This re­newed fo­cus comes as the United States it­self is be­com­ing more di­verse. African-amer­i­cans con­sti­tute about 13% of the pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Cen­sus Bureau data. His­pan­ics, who can be­long to any race, com­prise roughly 17%, while Asians make up nearly 6%.

Yet the plan­ning in­dus­try is still pre­dom­i­nantly white and male. Less than one-third of ad­vi­sors are women and a mere 6% are African-amer­i­can, ac­cord­ing to data from the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics. His­pan­ics make up about 7% of the ad­vi­sor pop­u­la­tion.

“We’re just not on track to re­flect the di­ver­sity of the na­tion,” says Mar­i­lyn Mohrman-gillis, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the CFP Board’s Cen­ter for Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning.

As part of its at­tempt to en­cour­age more mi­nori­ties and women to join the plan­ning pro­fes­sion, Mohrmangillis says the CFP Board is cur­rently con­duct­ing de­mo­graph­ics re­search. The board is also plan­ning a di­ver­sity sum­mit for a yet-to-be-an­nounced date in 2018.

WHEN TONY BAR­RETT WAS STRUG­GLING, HIS BRANCH MAN­AGER PRO­VIDED EN­COUR­AGE­MENT. “THE THINGS I RE­MEM­BER MOST ARE THE THINGS THAT KEPT ME IN THE SEAT,” HE SAYS.

Be­yond the work of the CFP Board and oth­ers, the great­est im­pact may be tak­ing place at the grass roots, where men­tors help young ad­vi­sors turn im­pos­ing chal­lenges into ca­reer mile­stones.

LEARN­ING TO THRIVE

To fur­ther ex­plore the trends, Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning reached out to black and African-amer­i­can ad­vi­sors for their sto­ries about en­ter­ing and learn­ing to thrive in the wealth man­age­ment pro­fes­sion, and for the ad­vice that they have for young mi­nor­ity ad­vi­sors seek­ing to join the busi­ness.

“The more peo­ple see di­ver­sity in the work­place, [the more it] will mean to kids who haven’t seen this as a path for them­selves,” says Kobby Okum, an ad­vi­sor at Ed­ward Jones in Lees­burg, Vir­ginia.

Please see the fol­low­ing pages for his and other sto­ries.

Allan Boomer, 40, cred­its an in­tern­ship at Mer­rill Lynch as set­ting him on the path to open­ing his own RIA, ad­vis­ing on $300 mil­lion in as­sets.

Allan Boomer (cen­ter), who founded Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors in 2012, stresses the im­por­tance of men­tor­ing new­com­ers. His team (l. to r.): Kyle Pitts, Tiffany Mcghee, Boomer, Tiffany Hawkins, Ti­mothy Platt and Earl Carr.

Kyle Pitts (l.), who knew Allan Boomer as a child in New Jersey, turned to Boomer for guid­ance when he got into the ad­vi­sory busi­ness and now works with him at Mo­men­tum Ad­vi­sors.

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