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U.S. advisor Cassandra Cummings left high-end brokerage firms that serve affluent clients after 20 years to better serve her own community – Black women – with their finances.
She founded The Stocks & Stilettos Society, which has a membership of more than 100,000 Black women, and is the author of Fearless Finances: A Timeless Guide to Building Wealth.
Ms. Cummings, who is based in San Francisco, spoke recently with Globe Advisor about obstacles facing many in the Black community from obtaining wealth.
Why did you leave wealth management firms to go on your own?
I wanted to have an opportunity to show the importance of what was possible financially to my community.
Being Black women, we have certain things that play against us as a double minority. We’re paid less than our counterparts, typically. We have many demands on our time in terms of family. Seventy per cent of African-American women have never been married. They tend to lead their households, so they’re the sole breadwinner.
So, there are a lot of factors that also impede our ability to build wealth. Many financial services firms just don’t take things like that into consideration. Their plans are designed primarily to help men continue to prosper financially.
What other issues affect the Black women you advise?
They have many competing priorities, family obligations, and community responsibilities. They usually put themselves last and that translates into them seeing managing their money as one more thing to do.
What are you hoping that readers will learn from your book?
I want my community to learn that they need to overcome fear if they want to lose their financial inhibitions. They have a lot of fear of the unknown and losing money. And that fear is part of the generational financial curses that have been passed down.
What do members of The Stocks & Stilettos Society say about the experience of joining?
‘I wish I found you 10 years ago. I wish you were here when I was growing up.’
I think women want to find someone who can relate to them in their language, women who know their struggle. I think they need more women who can help hold their hand and not do it in a condescending or undermining way. So, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
What has been the biggest ‘A-ha’ moment for the Society members?
That they’re the best thing that will ever happen to their money. Once they get that, then they take ownership of taking care of their money so that the money can then take care of them.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
- Deanne Gage, Globe Advisor reporter
Must-reads from Globe Advisor this week
Does the 4-per-cent rule for retirement income withdrawals still apply?
Rising inflation and the combination of falling stocks and bonds this year have many investors reconsidering the reliability of the “4-per-cent rule” as a guideline for how much to withdraw annually from their portfolios. People are also living longer, and markets can behave differently in countries like Canada compared to the U.S., the market examined in the original 1994 study that introduced this concept. Many advisors believe the guideline remains useful for retirees looking to ballpark how much money they may need to retire comfortably. Brenda Bouw reports on when it may or may not make sense.
Strong greenback driving demand for U.S. dollar-denominated investments
A growing number of Canadian investors want to venture beyond the confines of Canadian equities without sacrificing returns to a fluctuating loonie. The U.S. Federal Reserve Board’s outsized interest rate increases are pushing the U.S. dollar to new highs against other global currencies, which gives Canadian investors the opportunity to get more bang for their U.S. buck. The Canadian dollar has fallen to the 75-cent range against the U.S. dollar after topping 80 cents at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Dale Jackson speaks to strategists and portfolio managers on how to play the U.S. dollar trade and the risks.
Is the glass still half full for fixed income?
It’s been a challenging year for bonds and every other asset class. Widespread selloffs have brought equities down, credit spreads have widened, government bond yields have accelerated higher, and currencies have become extremely volatile. Although there hasn’t been a year with returns across fixed income quite as poor as this one, there also haven’t been two back-to-back negative years in fixed-income investing. The opportunity in fixed income is becoming more compelling as we get to the point at which inflation is starting to decline and the potential for recession approaches, according to Mark Wisniewski of Ninepoint Parters LP. He gives an outlook for interest rates and a recession and what that means for bonds.
Legal, political uncertainties plague cannabis sector despite signs U.S. moving closer to legalization
The tantalizing prospect of cannabis becoming legal in the U.S. has sent euphoric waves through an otherwise depressing corner of the market in recent months. Canadian and U.S. pot stocks soared by as much as 30 per cent in early October after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 narcotic would be reviewed and possibly downgraded. Yet, investors and advisors thinking about capitalizing on the sector’s low valuations ahead of a potential U.S. legalization should think twice, analysts say. Jamie Sturgeon looks at the pros and cons of investing in the space and what lies ahead.
What you and your clients need to know
BMO partners with Cathie Wood to launch new technology funds
Amid a slew of technology companies slashing their workforces and the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Bank of Montreal’s asset management arm is taking a gamble on technology stocks by partnering with U.S. portfolio manager Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management. BMO Investments Inc. and ARK Invest are set to announce the launch of three mutual funds and three exchange-traded funds that will give both retail and institutional investors access to several thematic technology asset classes – including Ms. Wood’s famous innovation fund, which invests in tech firms with a reputation for disruption, such as Zoom Video Communications Inc. and Tesla Inc. Clare O’Hara reports on the launch and what it means for investors.
Who are the big names affected by the FTX crash? Tom Brady, Ontario’s Teacher’s Pension Plan and more
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Financial toll of super commutes is catching up with remote workers
Housing markets surrounding the Greater Toronto Area grew increasingly popular over the past decade as homebuyers found themselves priced out of the region, then took off when the pandemic hit and remote work offered the chance to enjoy a different lifestyle. But as a growing number of employers call workers back to the office, many people are finding themselves dealing with lengthy – and costly – commutes back to Toronto. In the right circumstances though, moving out of the GTA’s overheated housing market has been highly beneficial for some. Salmaan Farooqui reports on the pros and cons of commuting to work for hybrid workers.
– Globe Advisor Staff