3 Sad Truths of Why Minorities Struggle Financially – Reversing the Trend

When I finally had my first full-time job at 17 years old, I wondered why I later found myself a few years later in my early twenties, broke and struggling to make ends meet. After all, making more money while getting promoted up the “food chain” would solve my problems right?

Why did I shortly find myself living paycheck to paycheck. Chances are… it had to do with my upbringing and ethnic culture.

Does it really matter if you are a minority in the US as it relates to your level of financial literacy and ability to make money smart decisions? Does being raised on the “other side of the tracks”, factually matter?

According to several reports it absolutely does.

1) Lack of Financial Education and Awareness

Back in the late 90s, I was in the middle of my second enlistment serving on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Coming back from a counter-drug deployment in the Bahamas, I walked into my home located in military housing on Marine Corps Air Station El Toro to a stack of credit card bills. Oh joy.

My wife at the time had charged up over $15,000 between 3 credit cards. As a Corporal, this was close to one year’s worth of annual salary. Needless to say, this was a major area of arguments between us which eventually led to our divorce and two years of child custody battles. (Inside military joke, but not really, is that you can’t leave active duty without getting married, have a kid… then get a divorce. Ask around, it’s sadly true.)

What was my attempt to get financial help? I would ask fellow Marines, senior leaders who happened to be Black and Hispanic, just to discover they too faced the same financial difficulties just on different levels. Bottom line, they had no answer. It was the blind leading the blind.

I learned my first rule in personal finance… stop asking for financial help from your broke friends (and even family).

Had it not been for retired Master Sergeant Carleton Enloe, who I happened to meet in a bathroom of a Best Buy in Laguna Hills (don’t laugh), I would have never started a journey on learning how to win the money game. He worked at a financial firm that opened my eyes and took me under his wing.

My solution beforehand to get out of a financial pit was just to find ways to make more money out in town, off-duty, as a Jiffy Lube hood technician and bartender at the Officer’s Club on base.

When I share this story at financial conferences and even our weekly financial workshops, I find that this scenario hits most everyone in the room… even non-minority caucasians who also where raised on the same side of the tracks I was.

2) Underserved, Abandoned and Biased by Financial Services Industry

The fact is, if you are Black and Hispanic, you are deeply underserved by the financial services industry. Most financial firms will not even extend a conversation to help a potential client unless you have at least $250,000 of liquid investable assets or lacking the one-time planning fee of $500 (some as high as $5,000) to pay a Certified Financial Planner/ Investment Advisor just to tell you that you… “you’re broke!”

I spoke at a Women Diversity Conference and I be-friended a financial planner who was the ONLY Black financial professional in the ENTIRE state of Illinois for their national firm. And yet, her office was in the suburbs… no where close to the city.

Think you can find a minority financial professional that you can relate with and understand your cultural struggle and desire to get out of the financial rat race? They are not very common. The American Council of Insurers expose a significant gap in pass rates just for minorities passing a simple life insurance exam as an entry point to the financial services industry

3) Upbringing and Cultural Financial Ignorance

Does it have to do with cultural trends and parental upbringing to handling your personal finances? Comedian Kevin Hart threw out credit score jokes towards dark-skinned women, which he later apologized for, relating to a commonality of poor credit.

Sure, it’s comedy, but could it possibly be true? When was the last memory of your parents teaching you the value of credit and how to build your credit score over the kitchen table?

You know the answer.

Just like me, you’ve had past experiences holding your breath while eating out with friends hoping the server doesn’t come back asking for another form of payment.

Over the past two years, I’ve taken pride in helping build a financial movement where we’ve recruited and trained a new breed of financial professionals entering the money business.

The level of connection with our audience, relating to their financial struggles and finding solutions to transform their financial lives have been nothing less than transformational.

We’re helping close the considerable gap of minorities making $100,000 per year, where today, less than 5.9% of six-figure income earners are Asian, 5.6% are Hispanic and 5.5% are Black. (Source: Wikipedia.com)

Of the 43 financial professionals I have mentored as a marketing consultant and trainer, 35 are either Black, Hispanic or Asian. 8 are bi-racial couples raising bi-racial children. Already, we have a six-figure earner who is a Hispanic woman and a retired-Filipino nurse who cash flowed over $13k last month.

My advice? Continue to love on your friends and family but unfortunately, facts point that they are not the ones to help you lead a path towards financial freedom.

From what you learn about money, bring that back to your community and be that change-agent within your family… regardless of their negative opinions towards you. Stand strong, stand firm, stay focused, stay disciplined.

Reach out, seek and earn the mentorship and association of people who want to have more, be more and willing to DO more. Look past the color of their skin. After all, money has one color and desires to hang out with those who know how to take care of it.

Your children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren will be glad you did.

3 Reasons Why Financial Planning and Retirement Planning is Important

The future is always uncertain, especially in today’s global climate which spells uncertainty wherever you turn. Just look at the credit crunch crisis and you will know what I am talking about. Because people were not prepared for a turbulent future, many have suffered the consequences. This is the same for your finances and especially your retirement; where you want to have the security and financial comfort and not worry about anything else and have a good plan that will withstand the toughest of times. This article will spell out 3 reasons why financial planning and retirement planning is important.

Talking about retirement is something most of us do not want to do. It is understandable why we want to avoid the subject but the reality of the situation is that sometime in our lives we will have to realise that retirement itself brings with it, its own set of problems and potential disasters. Planning for your retirement is planning for your golden years – and it isn’t just about crunching numbers. It is about looking at your lifestyle and tweaking your current finances and investments to reach goals and objectives for a comfortable future. No one must have to work after retirement – if anything else, it should be done willingly and just to pass the time.

Planning for retirement is good because it isn’t just about planning for the years after working, it gives you a sense of comfort and security in the years following up to your retirement. It also gives you a firm idea of what your future will be like and gives you the freedom to pursue the things you always wanted to without worrying about taking a month of work or changing jobs to something easier and less competitive. It also puts less pressure on your family and your loved ones to take care of you because independence at an old age is very important to a lot of people.

Financial planning, especially at an early age can help to give your life focus and help you to achieve your goals in life. Financial planning gives you a set of tools to create wealth and build up a nest egg that you can use in case of emergency. Financial planning also gives you direction, direction you need to make informed decisions about investments so that you won’t make any mistakes and you can reap the benefits for the rest of your life. There is the issue of safety in the matter, make your salary work twice as hard to provide for you and your family, plan your pension for the future and recruit the help of asset protection for that added touch of security.

Financial planning and retirement planning actually work hand in hand and are assets that must be invested in or at least considered in the course of anyone’s life. Securing your future and making your money work for you are two valuable commodities for anyone – reasons why financial planning and retirement planning is important.

The Process of Recruitment Outsourcing

Recruitment is a part of the HR (Human Resource) process. It involves sourcing, screening and on-boarding those candidates who suits an employer’s profile requirement. By working in association with a service provider, an entrepreneur is empowered to source & pre-screen candidates as per the required skills. These third-party vendors assist clients in hiring, researching niche job panels, mapping competitive segments and so on. Also, they cater to the employment requirements of different business verticals (such as financial, retail, IT) from entry-level to management level positions.

A service provider monitors a recruitment process closely, by evaluating the number of sourced candidates, number of interviews conducted, number of offers made, number of joinings done. They even measure the overall business performance metrics, such as, average time taken to hire a candidate, ageing requisitions as well as cost per hire.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services include the following:

• Requisition development with recruitment management
• Planning and implementation of candidate sourcing strategy
• Business consulting services
• Recruitment strategy development
• Screening services
• Interview scheduling
• Offer management services
• Staffing operations analysis & reporting
• Staffing & budgeting support
• Workforce management support
• Background check services
• Employee on-boarding

HR Administration and Employee Management

On-boarding: A service provider manages offer letters, new contracts, reference checks, joiner formalities and so on.

Probation: A service provider ensures that a client’s line managers are well informed about all the necessary probationary formalities.

Employee data management: A service provider ensures that employees are well informed about all the necessary probation formalities.

Structural changes: An outsourcing firm records a client’s database and updates any structural changes made on their part, by following up with the enterprise in every month or as and when required.

Absence: They also manage applications, leaves and absences under diverse categories, such as medical leave, maternity leave, etc. and process the same info to clients.

Other than this, provident funds, pension letters, relieving letters, etc. are also being handled by the HR consultants of an outsourcing firm.

Reliable solutions, dedicated team and tested methodologies ensure safety and confidentiality of an employee’s information.

Benefits and reimbursements

An outsourcing firm develops state-of-the-art HRO services, deploys technology enabled solutions, integrates a BPO model empowering an organization to operate efficiently. A service vendor transforms the recruitment process of an organization and empowers entrepreneurs to optimize their process and meet their short and long term HR objectives.

Besides, a third-party vendor also handles the employee reimbursement part such as medical and insurance settlement and so on.

The HR experts of an outsourcing agency are proficient in managing global employees and optimizing administrative and employment course through technology integration and process innovation, in workflow management, knowledge management and other relevant areas.

15-Minute Guide to Greater Effectiveness – Managers in Banking and Financial Services Firms

Banking and financial services sectors are on the upswing in many countries after months of making redundancies following the 2008 global financial crisis. Recruitment firms and head hunters are reporting more requests to fill mid-level and senior management roles and advertisement abound for many posts. After reducing the number of potential candidates for mid-and senior level roles in the past 18 months, firms are finding increasingly they are appointing many first time managers who are required to take up roles even before they have had adequate time to prepare to become their most effective. Such new managers include those managing large teams for the first time -more than 100 staff often in several locations and others having their very first role as a Team Leader.

For newly appointed managers -both at the mid and senior levels in banking and financial service firms, the challenge is how to be effective when faced with low morale among team members and fast moving changes in the regulatory landscape for financial services.

To be more effective in leading your team and make fewer mistakes in the first 100 days, here are six key questions you should ask of yourself. Allow yourself 1 – 2 minutes to reflect on each question, identify additional considerations and make a note of two possible options for which you will take action.

  1. What are my priority/most urgent tasks this week and what specifically will I be working on today? Better still plan for today for tomorrow, do not wait.
  2. What skills do I need for this role? This means you should consider skills you need to improve OR new ones I should learn so I can do a better job and be more effective?
  3. How do I overcome personal biases to work with people with various personalities? This may require you to adjust your communication style and apply your persuasive skills in a sensitive way.
  4. How will I deal with managing my friends who are now part of my team and those with whom I worked at the same level previously?
  5. Where are the greatest risks to attaining a high level of performance by everyone in my team? In the process, you may identify existing conflict in your team or those who are resisting change, either directly or in subversive manner.
  6. What can I do the make my team more prepared to deliver a higher level of performance for the business, especially in light of changes over the next year?

While you may not have all the answers before you start managing your team, through thinking about these issues you can begin find answers and exploring various options in the first 30 days of assuming your managerial role. The answers you provide to those questions would go a considerable way to helping you get greater depth of clarity in understanding the demands of your role as a team manager. This will enable you to better able to manage the talent in your team, improve your own personal effectiveness and raise your creditability as a manager.

Know About Contingency Recruiting and Its Benefits

Every business needs a good workforce which strives hard to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives in an effective manner. To build such an excellent team, many organizations focus on quality hires. Though it’s often challenging to pick suitable candidates from a large pool of qualified people, companies can never ignore the need and importance of talented professionals.

To make effective hires, every company has two options – form an in-house recruiting team or use the services of outside recruiting agencies, which supply candidates depending on the company’s requirement. First option is clear and straightforward, but is often outweighed by the second one due to some significant benefits. Out of various recruitment procedures followed by the recruiting agencies, let us know about contingency recruiting method, which is one of the popular forms of hiring.

Contingency recruiting and how it works
Contingency recruiting, by definition, is a kind of candidate search in which a recruiting firm will be paid fees only after it places a suitable candidate for the required position. This is the main reason why many companies prefer this kind of recruiting – the chances of getting potential candidates are pretty high with less investment. A contingency recruiter works for multiple clients and tries to fill the vacancies in their companies as effectively as he can.

Contingency recruiting agencies collect resumes from different sources like the job portals, their own websites, etc., and handle all the responsibilities of scheduling the interviews, screening the candidates, conducting interviews and referral verification procedures at their place. After conducting all these formalities, if they are completely satisfied with the candidate’s profile, and if they feel that he/she is suitable candidate for the position, they will forward the resume to the respective company.

Benefits
Let us see how contingency recruiting helps an organization in making quality hires.

• Provides potential employee data: Contingency recruiting agencies screen the candidates by implementing thorough procedures and send the list of potentially qualified candidates, who are well suited for the requirement. This way the possibility of getting a good candidate’s profile is high.

• Provides full background checks with verification of references: Once the client selects the candidates, the recruiters conduct final reference checks and background verifications. These reference verifications and background checks are very important because they give the actual picture of the behavioral pattern of the selected candidate. These reference checks confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the candidate and also assure the employer that he is making a quality hire.

Conduct tests to find the best employee
Besides the above mentioned activities, many recruiting firms also conduct different types of tests which give a detailed idea about the candidate’s overall personality. Let us check few of them:

• Elaborate personality testing: Personality tests are thought to be one of the valid predictors of job performance. So, many employers employ these tests to determine the cognitive as well as creative abilities of the candidate. A contingency recruiting agency conducts these tests and evaluates the candidate’s capabilities.

• Lie detector testing: It’s an optional test conducted on a candidate depending on his/her performance. This is to make sure that all the information given by the candidate is genuine.

• Drug testing: Pre-employment drug testing is a part of recruiting process for many organizations. A reputed agency will conduct drug tests and hence provides candidates with good habits.

Cost benefit
In case an organization takes up the responsibility of hiring the candidates by itself, it should invest significant amount of money and time – hiring professional recruiters, paying monthly salaries, perks, bonuses, etc., costs of conducting interviews, advertisement costs, drug testing costs and so on. So, hiring a professional recruiting agency not only provides suitable candidates, but also saves the organization from all the mentioned costs, relieving the organization from the financial as well as operational burden.

Helpful for staffing at all levels
Reputed recruiting agencies have many years of experience in the field of hiring. From entry level to senior positions, they can provide candidates based on the requirement. Getting a professional candidate with good work exposure depends on how well the recruiting firm explains the roles and responsibilities for a particular job profile.

Also, it is to be known that the quality of the candidates provided by the recruiting agencies depends on the reputation and the experience of the recruiting firm. So, make sure that you are approaching a reliable service provider for high quality hires.

Recruiting Female Agents Has Its Benefits

Top 3 Reasons to Recruit Women:

1. Successful Interactions: Females are able to relate to other female clients and prospects, making it easier to understand their unique needs.

2. Strong Contacts: Women typically have a base of contacts, either within their former professions or within their communities. This can assist them in building solid practices.

3. Popular Demand: With so many agencies – small and large – targeting female agents, woman investors now have a choice to do business with an insurance company who meets their needs. If you’re not meeting the need, you’re losing business to a competitor that is.

Danica Patrick did it. Hilary Clinton did it. And now droves of females in the financial services industry are doing it – succeeding in what was once a man’s world. As this male-dominated industry continues to change, so do those who represent it.

Recruit: Magnetic Attraction
Despite female representation dwarfing in comparison to its male counterpart, the number of female insurance agents continues to grow year after year. In fact, several large financial firms are creating recruiting campaigns and initiatives based around attracting women .

The approach to recruit, support and retain female agents is evolving. More financial institutions are recognizing females as prime candidates. So much so that companies are competing for female talent. In order to stay competitive with its forward-thinking counterparts, companies must recruit and advance women. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do, given the continuing emergence of women as a powerful economic force,” said Heidi Spilotros, Director of Women’s Recruiting for MassMutual. “It’s also increasingly important for financial services companies to better understand women as prospects and clients, in order to serve this important market segment well.”

MassMutual has been a pioneer in recruiting, retaining and helping females to succeed. But in order to help these individuals do well, you must first understand their needs and motivations. Perhaps no one is more familiar with what female agents desire than Spilotros, as she appreciates the innate need to achieve the ever-illusive work and family life balancing act. She traveled the nation – during her eighth month of pregnancy – to gain a better understanding of what women want.

MassMutual has been able to effectively attract female agents by emphasizing the positive attributes of a career as a financial services professional, specifically the challenge, entrepreneurial spirit, financial and personal rewards and flexibility. This top insurance company is so in tune with these needs that MassMutual was named a Working Mother’s 100 Best Company by Working Mother Magazine in 2007.

While the financial services industry has made several strides in recent years as it relates to female candidates, progress has not penetrated throughout all organizations. According to Geoff Kaltenbach, Associate Managing Partner for Signature Resources in Irvine, CA, the insurance industry has not been successful in these arenas compared to other trades, such as pharmaceutical sales.

Kaltenbach’s approach to recruiting talented females begins at the university level. His firm works with three sororities at two local universities to engage potential candidates for its internship program. This highly effective strategy has resulted in a tremendous source of referrals to the firm. In fact, many of its advisors and staff emerge from the internship program. “Start there (university level) because they know other people who have the same work ethic and that creates a nice center of talent,” said Kaltenbach.

While Signature Resources recruits females, the firm actively seeks good candidates in general, regardless of their gender. There are, however, several benefits to hiring women. “Women can succeed in this business,” insists Kaltenbach.

Typically, females in their mid to late twenties are more mature and empathetic, possess a stronger work ethic, and boast a better sense of fashion than their male counterparts, according to Kaltenbach. Additionally, many human resources directors are female and feel more comfortable dealing with the same sex. Therefore, female representation becomes even more valuable in building the business.

Often times, it is not a company that actively recruits an agent, but rather an individual recruiting her new place of employment. When a devastating car accident left the Wilkerson family in medical and financial distress, Julie Wilkerson left a successful career in sales and marketing to pursue new horizons. Surprised to learn that she had inadequate coverage, Wilkerson felt a personal obligation to educate others in areas where she had not been well-informed and decided that the best way to make a difference was in the insurance industry.

In the end, it was Colonial Life that was able to woo Wilkerson with its strong reputation in customer service satisfaction and vow to educate agents. However, Wilkerson did not commit to Colonial Life without first doing her homework on the supplemental insurance company. “What impressed me was the longevity of the agents who worked for Colonial Life,” said Wilkerson. “I was looking for a company that nurtured its people.”

Wilkerson’s research paid off. Colonial Life offered the ethical element Wilkerson was looking for. “The ladies room buzz is pretty telling,” said Wilkerson. “If you’re pushing up your lipstick and hear agents discussing how wonderful their year was – not just financially, but from a people standpoint – it’s rewarding. I feel honored to be in their company.”

Support: Commitment
For some agents, support refers to technology-based solutions and for others it is defined by emotional support.

Signature Resources supports its 100+ agents, 20 percent of which are female, with the proper tools to succeed. The company relies heavily on echoWealth, a web-based needs analysis program equipped with illustrated financial reports, motivating calculators and intelligent content. “It is our Wikipedia and it supports everything we do,” said Kaltenbach. “Having something at your fingertips immediately for you and your client is the single most important thing we do.”

Likewise, Wilkerson has been able to take advantage of the resources Colonial Life offers, such as a comprehensive website that answers questions ranging from the competition to specific policies; newsletters chalked full of sales techniques, product education and field agent-related anecdotes; and workshops and conferences.

While having the appropriate resources to advance your career and educate clients are necessary, other factors come into play when it comes to supporting the female agent, including integrity and the ability to balance a career and family life.

In order to build your business, you need a level of support. Additionally, you want to be sure that that level of support is coming from a reputable company. “I was not going to go snorkeling in a polluted pool,” said Wilkerson who places a very high importance on company reputation. “I can speak with passion and sincerity about the company.”

The suite of support services allows Wilkerson to be in business for herself but not by herself. From a flexibility standpoint, this career allows her to maintain a rewarding livelihood and family life. “I choose where I go, when I go and how I go,” said Wilkerson.

Like Signature Resources and Colonial Life, MassMutual is supportive of all of its agents, regardless of gender. However, the company recognizes there are certain accommodations that are attractive to female associates. “Success begets success, so one of the best ways we can attract female agents is to show them how women who come to MassMutual can establish and grow great careers,” said Spilotros. “Part of our success as an organization is attributable to the fact that we highlight and celebrate the achievements of our women advisors so that newer recruits can envision themselves in that position.”

One of the ways in which the company demonstrates this is via its recruiting website where a female agent discusses her role in her words. Additionally, the company arranges for mentor programs; hosts an annual female agent conference focusing on challenges that are unique to women; and is actively involved in groups such as Women in Insurance and Financial Services (WIFS), an organization whose mission is to support, encourage and advance the success of women in the insurance and financial services industry.

In the end, the pay off of providing strong support manifests itself in stronger retention rates.

Retain: Keep the fire burning
It’s no secret that retention is an issue for many agencies. However, by ensuring proper support is in place, retention comes more easily. For example, one retention method comes in the form of rewards. Like policies, rewards come in all different flavors. Whether commission based, bonus plan driven, verbal recognition, or offering flexible schedules, the rules of the game have changed.

For Wilkerson, rewards can be measured qualitatively. “Hard working women don’t always get recognition and we all need a little encouragement,” said Wilkerson. “I receive such good feedback from this company and the clients I serve.”

However, others may view success quantitatively. Based on projected numbers, Signature Resources intends to retain its existing female agent base while expanding it to 30 to 40 percent in the coming years, as compared to roughly two percent a few years back.

Like Signature Resources, MassMutual has seen its female agents grow steady over the last eight years to 16%. In fact in 2007, women comprised 21% of the company’s recruiting classes, a leading indicator of future growth of female agents within MassMutual. The company anticipates additional growth as it begins new initiatives to more effectively target women of all ethnicities and successfully transition them into a career. “To compete as a company in the future, we need to be able to serve the fast-growing market of women consumers, and need talented people – both men and women – to accomplish that,” said Spilotros. “The more we can attract, retain and help succeed, the better off our company will be.”

Like any relationship, females require excessive courting and attentive support. If not, divorce court could be right around the corner.

Financial Recruitment Firms