Black in­vest­ment pro­fes­sion­als chap­ter will point out the ta­lent

Business Day - - Companies & Markets - LONDIWE BUTHELEZI

The As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ment Pro­fes­sion­als (Ab­sip) launched the Young Pro­fes­sion­als Chap­ter in Gaut­eng last week to groom and pro­vide sup­port struc­tures to those as­pir­ing to join the lim­ited pool of black in­vest­ment pro­fes­sion­als and as­set man­agers. Given how slow trans­for­ma­tion has been in this sec­tor, it made sense for Ab­sip to get its hands dirty in terms of de­vel­op­ing the pool of black ta­lent as op­posed to just cry­ing foul about lack of trans­for­ma­tion. But will it work? We caught up with Ab­sip ex­ec­u­tive Tinyiko Ng­wenya to find out more.

Tell me about the Young Pro­fes­sion­als Chap­ter. Why is there a need for it and what role will it play in ex­pand­ing the pool of black ta­lent in the in­vest­ment in­dus­try?

We launched in the Western Cape first in Novem­ber 2016. It was the eas­i­est place to start be­cause as­set man­age­ment is there. It was re­ally around the need to close the gap be­tween the stu­dent chap­ter and na­tional struc­tures [of Ab­sip]. It’s very lonely in Cape Town when you go to con­fer­ences and client meet­ings and you are the only black pro­fes­sional there. In terms of net­work­ing, we needed to find a home for black pro­fes­sion­als. There was also a gap be­tween ju­nior an­a­lysts and ex­ec­u­tives. They say there’ sa lack of black ta­lent. Our role as young pro­fes­sion­als is to point to this pool of peo­ple and say “here are the young peo­ple, give them a chance”.

We are here to de­velop young black pro­fes­sion­als, that’s our goal. Through plat­forms like this they get to in­ter­act with in­dus­try lead­ers and learn about their ex­pe­ri­ences, get new sets of tools that they can use in the work­place. We also have a univer­sity bur­sary pro­gramme where we take stu­dents to the emerg­ing mar­kets credit pro­gramme and they get to visit Wall Street com­pa­nies, fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the Nas­daq ex­change and how the mar­ket works.

Who gets a seat in these chap­ters? Do you have to come from a cer­tain univer­sity or have a par­tic­u­lar qual­i­fi­ca­tion?

It’s ev­ery young pro­fes­sional within the fi­nan­cial ser­vices. As Ab­sip we sit on the Fi­nan­cial Sec­tor Trans­for­ma­tion Char­ter so when it comes to trans­for­ma­tion in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try, that’s our big fo­cus.

So, you are host­ing a net­work­ing ses­sion to­day. But how do you re­ally know that these help the young peo­ple up their ca­reer lad­der?

The first is to col­lect the data, which is what we’ve been do­ing. We’ve started with the cor­po­rates, we want them to let the young black pro­fes­sion­als know there is a body that they can join for sup­port.

You’ll be sur­prised that this or­gan­i­sa­tion has been around since 1995 but many peo­ple don’t know any­thing about Ab­sip.

Now that we’ve got the data from com­pa­nies about who they em­ploy un­der the age of 35, we can move on to find­ing out what their key needs are.

We want to iden­tify which are the most com­mon con­cerns and needs, which ones we should pri­ori­tise and how.

We want to be more so­lu­tions-based than [just] an events or­gan­i­sa­tion.

But will this change any­thing? Shouldn’t we be en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to do well at var­sity and hope merit will set them up for suc­cess in­stead of form­ing these struc­tures?

It’s scary... we’ve had peo­ple in the in­dus­try for 24 years but the chal­lenges are still the same. The most dis­cour­ag­ing thing for a young black pro­fes­sional is not see­ing any­one above you with your skin colour.

You don’t know any­thing about whether you’ll be able to el­e­vate in your ca­reer be­cause there is no-one like you who you can see they’ve made it.

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