After 25 years as a financial advisor in the corporate world, I left a major firm in June 2012 to launch Urban Wealth Management Group. Sensing that a shift was taking place in the financial services industry, my intention was to build a platform that focused on strategic financial planning alongside investment management to better serve clients. But it was my own personal experience, my mom’s challenges in her life, and her passing in 2017 that truly inspired me to focus the practice on supporting the needs of women.
The longer I was in the business, the more I realized that women were being overlooked and underserved. The fact is that the majority of financial advisors are men and don’t realize the importance of engaging the wives, significant others or even other female family members in the investment and financial guidance process. Women were not being serviced appropriately, so I initiated a platform to focus on the special needs of women.
My mom influenced me beginning at a very early age. After her marriage ended, she made the momentous decision to return to graduate school. Although she was a single mother with three children, all under the age of 10, she acquired her masters degree in Clinical Social Work. She was so dedicated to helping people who were experiencing physical and mental health issues. But working long hours, raising 3 kids, and not receiving an adequate amount of childcare benefits or income created financial stress. I remember multiple occasions when she had to drive quickly, rushing to the bank just minutes before it closed to deposit her paycheck. So cash flow was low, and I could see and feel it.
Whenever my siblings and I received money for our birthdays or Christmas gifts, from our grandparents or other family members, she encouraged us to save our money in the bank. I began working at age 13, providing tutorial services for elementary school students. My mom asked to borrow money from me periodically to pay for household expenses, and she always paid it back. So I was engaged in financial stress early on. Over time, that stopped when her income began to rise and my siblings and I began earning a little money working part-time, which took care of some of our personal expenses.
An early mentor once advised Rene Nourse, founder and managing director of Urban Wealth Management in El Segundo, Calif., "If you want to be successful, you have to be in places where you'll stand out."
As an African-American female professional in the financial industry, that is no problem.
Over 30-plus years, having overcome many challenges as a minority adviser, Ms. Nourse has responded by working to make the industry more hospitable to other women and people of color.
To that end, she actively supports the Association of African American Financial Advisors, known as Quad-A, which is working with the Financial Planning Association to recruit more diverse people to the industry.
Regarding women in the industry, Ms. Nourse has observed that they still face particular barriers.
"What's different for women is that we go through the training process, we do well, but then get dropped into a sales environment. Part of the reason many women fall out is because we're more relationship-oriented," she said.
The industry needs to adapt and create a sustainable environment to support female advisers' and clients' communication styles and their preferences for collaboration, teamwork, feedback and strategic planning, Ms. Nourse said. "Not only do we work differently than men, but women clients see investing as a means to an end, not the endgame," she said.
Nominations for the Women To Watch award are submitted by independent third parties and not by the nominee. Nominees must meet a set of specific criteria. The selection process is overseen and administered by the Women to Watch nomination committee of InvestmentNews, a financial services industry publication. Nominees do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of awardees. Once the selection process is completed and announced, awardees may at that time, purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products, payable to Investment News. Professionals from all sides of the financial advisory industry, including registered investment advisers, registered representatives, financial planners, brokers, insurance agents, certified public accountants, bank trust officers, firm executives and those working for industry organizations are reviewed by the InvestmentNews nomination committee.
InvestmentNews will determine nominees’ eligibility for the Women to Watch list based on the following criteria:
- Demonstrated success and leadership in the financial advisory industry
- Proven ability or power to effect change in the industry
- Exhibited willingness to share her expertise with others in the field, including by serving as a mentor or role model to other female professionals in the industry and speaking at industry events
- Has given back to her community through such activities as sitting on boards, volunteering and donating time to help investors
In 2008, our mother was diagnosed with dementia, and my siblings and I stepped in to manage her finances. We discovered that she had set aside very little for her own future, despite encouraging her children to save. My mother was fortunate she had family — but how about other women? Will they be protected too?
There are many women out there who are strong, ambitious, and independent just like my mom — and yet have neglected to consider the risks of longevity and the importance of making good financial decisions today so that they can have a comfortable lifestyle tomorrow.
I’m honored to be a frequent guest speaker and contributor on the topic of women and finance, and also recognized as a trailblazer and financial expert. Given the horrific year we have experienced in 2020, now is a critical time to highlight the importance of helping women reach their financial goals, since women and women of color have been hit so hard by this pandemic. Our firm’s mission is to encourage and assist women to create the lifestyle they desire and deserve.