Consortium fellow Jonathan Brown earned his MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in 2011. He shared his story with us to help other Consortium members understand the fulfilling opportunities that exist as an independent financial advisor.
I thought I was living the dream: Less than a year after graduating, I became a marketing manager for a local sports agency and found myself at Super Bowl XLVI with the “Got Milk?” and “FuelUpToPlay60” campaigns.
My pre-MBA goal had been to become a sports marketing guru who worked on multi-million dollar Super Bowl advertising campaigns. Sports marketing and corporate partnerships were going to be “my thing.” I’d done it.
Accomplishing my goal in a matter of months left a lot to be desired. I was still searching for significance, independence and validation that felt long overdue. I parted ways with the sports agency in December 2012, determined to develop a mobile sports app I conceptualized at Darden. I was in that awkward position of starting my own company and interviewing for positions with other companies.
The app was just a part of me by then; I’d been working on the concept for a while. Throughout the process, I shared a lot of my experiences with my father. We were always talking sports anyway. He and I spoke about the app as if we were partners, and I think he really respected the way I was approaching the process.
And then it hit me…
One day, my father explained that his time as a financial advisor was winding down. In lieu of selling his book of business, he wondered if I was interested in becoming his successor.
While I was out there trying to create my own legacy, it never occurred to me that I was already a part of someone else’s.
Immediately, every twist and turn on this non-traditional career path was relevant! The MBA, the mortgage experience, the credit counseling, the advertising sales, even the 26 companies I helped certify 15 years ago as small businesses—it all mattered.
This wasn’t the first time my compensation would not include a salary, or the first time I’d be working in personal finance. This wasn’t even the first time I’d have to file taxes as a business owner.
This was, however, the first time I’d have a partner. This was the first time I’d really believe in the company for which I worked. And this was the first time I’d be the CEO.
Opportunity for Diversity
There are very few minority-owned financial firms and I happen to be one of them.
In a 2011 report on workforce diversity, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association surveyed 18 large financial services firms and found that 8 percent of their brokers or financial advisors were “people of color.”
And at independent financial advisory firms, African Americans most likely make up just 1 percent to 2 percent of all advisors, according to industry executives interviewed by Financial Planning magazine.
Given this opportunity, one of my goals is to help Consortium fellows understand the fulfilling opportunities that exist as an independent financial advisor and perhaps work to close the financial education gap that exists between our community’s income and its wealth.