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Black wealth managers remain underrepresented in the financial services industry, and while there’s been progress in recruiting and supporting the career development of advisors from that community, more can be done, say two of Canada’s top wealth advisors.

Mark Miller, senior portfolio manager and senior investment advisor at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice in Mississauga, and Andrew McDonald, portfolio manager and investment advisor with the McDonald Group at CIBC Wood Gundy in Toronto, are the only two Black advisors in The Globe and Mail and SHOOK Research’s inaugural ranking of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors of 150 financial professionals.

Mr. Miller says he lauds the industry’s efforts. In particular, he cites his firm’s parent company, Toronto-Dominion Bank’s $10-million commitment to the Black Opportunity Fund, a charitable organization that raises capital to fund Black-led businesses and charities. However, he thinks there needs to be a collective effort from the industry, educators, and wealth professionals to inform the Black community of these opportunities.

Mr. McDonald adds that while he’s seen an increased interest in financial services as a career choice from Black students, there are still some assumptions about the industry that need to be dispelled because it’s holding people back from exploring opportunities.

One assumption is that doors won’t open because of skin colour, he says. However, in his experience, and one that Mr. Miller echoes, the industry recognizes and rewards hard work.

Both advisors say they’ve never experienced overt racism in their more than 25 years each in the industry.

“Were there subtleties that I wasn’t aware of? Perhaps, and I could sit here and speculate, but I thought I was given a lot of opportunity to progress,” Mr. Miller says.

Mentorship and building relationships

When it comes to succeeding in the industry, mentorship, advocacy and seizing opportunities are important.

Mr. McDonald says when he started as a sales assistant at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, he was recognized early for his hard work. This resulted in people advocating for him and introducing him to other people in the firm, which ultimately changed the trajectory of his career from sales to wealth management.

Mr. Miller, for his part, adds that he didn’t have a dedicated mentor when he first started but he did have people who gave him opportunities, which “made all the difference in the world” in terms of where he is today.

More established and rigorous training programs for Black students and community outreach programs for the greater Black community, such as going to schools, community centres, and churches, would help increase the industry’s exposure, the advisors say.

“People will move into the industry if they can relate to the person and say, ‘Yes, I could see myself in that career,’” Mr. Miller says.

He adds that programs set up by financial institutions in which advisors can sign up to speak at a school or a community would be beneficial, especially for advisors who want to give back but don’t know where to start.

Mr. McDonald has spoken with students at the public school and university levels. He also mentors Black students and is open to conversations with students who are interested in financial services as a career.

“I think hybrid training programs that run for a longer term [than 18-24 months] in which you join a team, get mentorship, have a specific role and you are in a team that is vested in you becoming successful is key,” Mr. McDonald says, adding that training programs would incubate, train and retain top talent.

He says it’s not okay that at his firm there are only six or seven Black advisors out of 800, and out of that handful, there isn’t a Black female advisor. The marketplace is filled with opportunities. The challenge for the financial services industry is to capture that change.

“It’s the smart thing to do, recognizing that we have a duty to shareholders to have a workforce that can serve Canadians of all backgrounds.”

– Renee Sylvestre-Williams, Globe Advisor Reporter

Must-reads from Globe Advisor this week

Risk of regulatory arbitrage on DSC ban

A one-year gap between banning deferred sales charges for mutual funds and segregated funds gives bad actors a window of opportunity for foul play, according to some investment industry insiders. Only in extremely rare cases can moving clients from a mutual fund with a management expense ratio (MER) of about 2 per cent to a seg fund with an MER closer to 3 per cent be justified. Jameson Berkow reports on why not harmonizing the move across similar investment products creates risk for clients.

Strategies for minimizing taxes on transferring wealth

A recent study showed that almost $700-billion in assets is set to transfer from one generation to the next by 2026. Without appropriate planning, just imagine the tax bill. Alison MacAlpine takes a deep dive into some of the most tax-efficient ways clients can leave their legacy to their children and charity, along with what advisors need to consider when engaging clients for estate planning.

Do stocks supporting remote work have staying power?

The sell-off in tech stocks has many wondering if there’s any good news ahead for companies that particularly played to the working-from-home theme, especially as businesses prepare to have workers return to the office. The bad news, if you own these stocks, is that it’s too late to sell. The good news is the best of them will continue to thrive this year because the workplace has changed permanently. Adam Mayers looks at the winners and losers.

Rebalancing portfolios as markets churn

Advisors are re-evaluating their clients’ risk tolerance amid the recent market volatility and repositioning portfolios in expectation of more swings ahead on rising interest rates, increased inflation, ongoing supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical tensions. Brenda Bouw reports on the best strategies to produce income and growth in this environment.

Also see:

New DEI code aims to encourage investment firms to make progress on diversity

Is withdrawing from RRSPs a good option when going back to school amid the pandemic?

Tech begins to raise its dividend game

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That’s the question an immigrant who’s been living in Canada for a decade asks when his well-paying career as an accountant isn’t enough to help him buy a home in small-town Kamloops, B.C. He’s considering leaving the country because buying a home seems out of reach. Rob Carrick tells his story, which many other young Canadians share.

Ten sustainable ETFs for yield

The prospect of getting better yields from bond portfolios may rise as interest rates go up. But as interest rates aren’t expected to jump astronomically, investors will still be looking for ways to supplement their income needs. Ian Tam of Morningstar Canada looks at the sustainability space for exchange-traded funds that could deliver that value.

Thought about a ‘workcation?’ It’s a thing

Companies are encouraging remote workers to take “workcations” to promote better work-life balance by giving employees money for travel expenses. These work-from-anywhere holidays are another way to retain top talent in an increasingly competitive labour market as younger workers like those in Gen Z want more balance in their lives. Andrea Yu reports.

– Compiled by Globe Advisor staff

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