THE 5 POINT PLAN: THE CREATION OF AN ECOSYSTEM FOR SUCCESS
by Solange F. Brooks
The New America Alliance (NAA) is dedicated to advancing the economic development in communities of color. The issue of inclusion in financial services – or giving a fair chance to any diverse fund by institutional investors – is a complex issue; however, it is the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. It is also a long-term endeavor that has become part of the NAA fabric.
In 1999, the NAA was founded with a mission to advance the Latino community in (1) education, (2) political awareness, (3) economic empowerment, and (4) philanthropy. The NAA continues to be predominantly Latino, but diverse – very much following the demographic trends of our country as we become more and more multi-ethnic, and multi-racial.
The successful and popular, virtual CIO meetings and the Dealmakers Forums are a great way to continue engagement with institutional investors and keep abreast on best practices and trends in the space. However, they are only part of the entire five-point plan aimed at continuously prepare an ecosystem that lends itself to diversity and inclusion. Thus, the approach is long-term, but actively doing something daily that builds the right ecosystem for success. Specifically:
Point 1 - Meetings: CIO & Asset Class Connection meetings are rich with information via presentations from institutional investors and the question-and-answer session that follow. We strive to maintain a friendly, casual ambience in order to facilitate the free flow of information; however, the meetings are private in that only NAA members in good standing and the institutional investor guests are present and what is shared in the meetings are for the participants only. This allows all involved to keep track about what is said and what is done.
Dealmakers Forums, a Voice for the NAA, are public discussions on topics of interest, not only to our NAA members, but to our larger investment/financial audience. The discussions serve to educate and become aware of economic issues that affect our industry in profound ways. The content may include business, investment market, and industry trends, as well as other general interest topics aligned with the NAA mission and priorities. Speakers include leading business and finance industry leaders such as institutional investment professionals, trustees, consultants, asset managers, dealmakers, and leaders from the public sector and corporate America.
Point 2 - Follow Up: The CIO & Asset Class Connection meetings, serve as an introduction, but also have an educational component. It is followed by a thank you note by the NAA CEO with a list of all member firms that were present with contact information. It is the responsibility of the NAA member to follow up with an email or a short call letting them know that (1) they were present at the NAA/CIO meeting and (2) wants to follow up to present their investment opportunity more fully (with a short deck).
Point 3 - Legislative Education: A key point of this plan is to educate state Legislatures about financial services, access to institutional capital by diverse people, and the opportunity to add value. Promoting transparency facilitates this education as many are not aware of the missed opportunity it represents. In 2021, the NAA successfully introduced a transparency bill in California that became law and is currently collaborating with Senator Kaine from Virginia on a federal transparency bill.
Point 4 - Compile/Measure: It is of utmost importance to gather and measure data that results from our efforts. This is the way for a healthy organization can grow their initiatives and projects from year to year and continue adding value to the NAA membership. There are plans for an on-going longitudinal study by a professional researcher firm and/or a research consultant by 2023.
Point 5 - Ongoing Research: Lastly, an essential part of creating the ecosystem that will seriously engage with diverse firms is ongoing research. Analysis of facts revealed via firsthand research, with credible sources, by a trustworthy and respectable institution, speaks loud and clear and can send a powerful message to the industry. NAA can be the voice that contributes to the understanding of this space, and the wealth of opportunities being missed due to lack of understanding and/or biases. NAA continues the search for a partner for this endeavor in the next couple of years.