Kobby Okum

Ad­vi­sor, Ed­ward Jones


Kobby Okum was study­ing to be a den­tist af­ter he met an Ed­ward Jones ad­vi­sor by chance, when he stopped at the ad­vi­sor’s of­fice to ask for di­rec­tions. The 33-year-old son of im­mi­grants from Ghana, Okum says he had no ex­po­sure to the wealth man­age­ment in­dus­try, but that serendip­i­tous meet­ing set him on a dif­fer­ent ca­reer path. Okum, a na­tive of Ap­ple­ton, Wis­con­sin, has been an ad­vi­sor at Ed­ward Jones for roughly a decade. Okum loves what he does, but given the paucity of mi­nor­ity ad­vi­sors in­dus­try­wide, he ad­mits for many it’s as if this pro­fes­sion is a se­cret. “From the out­side it can look in­tim­i­dat­ing,” he ac­knowl­edges. A lack of role mod­els for young would-be ad­vi­sors, he says, is a big part of the prob­lem, “The more di­ver­sity peo­ple see in the work­place, [the more it] will mean some­thing to kids who haven’t seen this as a path for them­selves,” notes Okum, who op­er­ates from Lees­burg, Vir­ginia. Youth can also be a hin­drance, says Okun, a Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin alum­nus. “A lot of the in­dus­try does not look like me. If I am in a room with another ad­vi­sor — some­one who is brand spank­ing new, but they are 50 years old with gray hair — they will be per­ceived as hav­ing more ex­pe­ri­ence,” he says, “be­cause they fit the pro­file.” But get­ting into the busi­ness is just one hur­dle to over­come; grow­ing a prac­tice can be even more chal­leng­ing. Re­flect­ing on his ex­pe­ri­ences, Okum says that the work can be men­tally de­mand­ing. “This is such an emo­tional job. You have to ta­per down your highs and ta­per down your lows,” he says. Okum also sug­gests younger ad­vi­sors seek out men­tors and role mod­els to em­u­late. And he em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing the dis­ci­pline to keep at it, again and again. “It’s hard to be­lieve that some­thing that isn’t work­ing is go­ing to work,” he al­lows. “It’s a faith busi­ness in the be­gin­ning. You have to be­lieve.” But, most im­por­tant, Okum says he wants in­dus­try out­siders to see this pro­fes­sion as open to them. “My whole dream is that peo­ple will read this and think, ‘This is not out of my reach.’”

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