Black investment professionals chapter will point out the talent
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.