After witnessing the events of the past year, I was challenged and inspired to create a vision of how I could partner with my broker/dealer, Cetera Financial Group to make a difference. We are an organization steadfastly committed to empowering people to change their financial lives for the better and helping them achieve their most important financial goals. Times like this remind us that part of our work is to continue nurturing the next generation and those who have not had the same opportunities or resources.
While values statements and social media posts are important to tell who we are and what we believe, NOW is a time for action that aligns with those words to affect a paradigm shift and real change in the lives of those less fortunate or held back by societal norms. Too often when all is said and done…more is said than done. I believe that we can do better than that. It is a time to CREATE social change rather than just post about it.
While at the Forbes/SHOOK Best in State Wealth Advisor conference in February 2020, I witnessed a room of 800 advisors challenged to help sick children and their families raise $1,400,000 in under two minutes. It occurred to me that there are more than 10 times that number of advisors within Cetera. Therefore, I came up with the idea to challenge the 8,000 reps of Cetera to raise $5,000,000 through our Caring Cetera 501(c)(3) foundation.
On a Sunday afternoon in June 2020, I reached out to our CEO, Adam Antoniades. He called me back shortly, and we spent nearly 30 minutes on the phone together discussing how we could take this idea and use it to help people and change lives. Adam supported this idea and helped me take it to the Caring Cetera steering committee.
Today, I am happy to introduce The Diversity in Financial Planning Scholarship to drive financial literacy, advance education and ongoing career development support by working with students to overcome barriers throughout their professional journey. Recipients receive $5,000 renewable grants annually and the opportunity to participate in financial literacy and mentoring programs.
This scholarship initiative has initially been rolled out to ten universities across the country (the University of Akron is included). These universities have been specifically selected for their extremely strong and well-established financial planning curriculum. They are also willing to partner with us to provide mentorship and internship opportunities, along with scholarship and education to help the next generation of financial planners.
Students enrolled or seeking to enroll in an accredited financial planning program at any university throughout the U.S. are encouraged to apply. The scholarship seeks to support students who identify with a group that has been underrepresented in the financial planning and financial services profession.
I believe the time has come for a large challenge, and ACTIONS that meet our words. I believe in an abundance mentality and that we have a responsibility to use the time, talent and treasure that we have been blessed with to lift others up to a life of achievement and significance. Together, we can empower people and change lives!!