Creating a diverse and inclusive culture within your firm

Submitted by sally.tanner on January 8, 2021

LESLIE TABOR:  Hi, everyone. I’m Leslie Tabor, Managing Director of Business Consulting And Education for Schwab Advisor Services, and this is Schwab @Home.


In my role at Schwab, one of the things I focus on is creating resources to help advisors attract, develop, and retain diverse talent at their firms. According to a recent McKinsey study, ethnically diverse companies were 33% more likely to outperform their industry counterparts, and those in the bottom quartile for gender and ethnic diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability.


So with more women, people of color, and the younger generation controlling more assets and asserting more influence over investment decisions, we’re finding that RIA firms are recognizing the critical need to diversify their talent, effectively allowing them to support these changing demographics and to capture new opportunities.


Now, one thing advisors can do right away is adopting an inclusive leadership style. So I’m really happy to have joining me today to talk a little bit about the key pillars of inclusive leadership, Keith Beverly, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer for GRID 202 Partners. Hi, Keith. How are you?


KEITH BEVERLY:  I’m great, Leslie. How are you? It’s great to be here with you today.


LESLIE:  I’m good. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining me.


So, Keith, can you tell us a little bit about your firm and your own personal leadership style?


KEITH:  Sure. Sure. Our firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C. We’re a five-person shop. We are 100% Black- and woman-owned. Myself and Kamila McDonnough are the equity partners of the firm. And I recently brought in Kamila after actively recruiting her for quite a while, because we are truly committed to where the country is going when it comes to diversity, and particularly when it comes to successful women who are set to inherit and set to control a large share of the country’s wealth in the coming decades.


As far as my personal leadership style, I do believe that it starts at the top, so with myself and with Kamila, and really serving as the example of being an environment that’s inclusive and that’s inviting for lots of different types of individuals, lots of different types of people from different backgrounds. So that’s essential and critical to our success as a firm.


LESLIE:  I love it. And, yeah, congratulations again for bringing Kamila onboard.


One of the things we’ve talked about, Keith, is the fact that creating an inclusive culture really takes a level of commitment. So I’m curious what advice you have for other firm leaders who are trying to effectively leverage the diverse thinking and the diverse experiences of the people at their firm.


KEITH:  Sure. Sure. There’s a James Baldwin quote that I like that I think is good for this conversation, where he says, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ And I think for many of the senior leaders at RIA firms today, understanding where your firm is and taking a true, honest assessment of why that came to be, and then deciding what the plan of action is moving forward. And then being intentional about quantifying it and measuring what those results will entail, I think are the… I think that’s the process for senior leadership to take as they’re thinking about diversity and as they’re thinking about having an inclusive environment for their team members.


LESLIE:  I love that quote. And I love, you know, the fact that you had mentioned awareness and intention. Those are such key pillars for inclusive leadership.


So, Keith, how should advisors be thinking about creating an environment where people, whether it’s their employees, or their clients, or even prospects, where these individuals feel comfortable bringing their genuine selves to the workplace?


KEITH:  I recognize sometimes it can be a delicate balance between really getting to know your team members, but then maintaining that professionalism in the workplace. But understanding what drives them, what motivates them is what’s going to motivate them to come to work every day and why they’re going to stick around for the long-term. So understanding their passions, their causes, and even inviting them to talk about it with other members of your team is important. That’s something I think that not enough firms do. And they really should think… you know, be mindful of the impact that that can have on the morale of the team, and how you can build relationships with your clients and your prospects by them having a deeper understanding of what drives you.


LESLIE:  I love that. Wonderful advice.


Well, Keith, thank you so much for joining me today and for sharing your insights. Hopefully, we’ll get to see each other real soon in person this time.


Thank you, everyone, for listening, from all of us at Schwab Advisor Services. I’m Leslie Tabor, and this has been another edition of Schwab @Home. Be well, everyone.



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