I grew up in Southfield and I graduated from Southfield High School.
I’m the daughter of a CPA. So growing up, I was the little girl that had to go to the office with my mom. She was an entrepreneur, so I was a 6 year-old learning debits and credits and learning how to balance income statements.
For me, financial literacy came through with what I saw at home.I was fortunate that money was always talked about at the kitchen table.
It was my first job, and I was working in the trust department. So I’m looking at statements and I’m seeing millions of dollars. When you’re 16 and you start seeing that people have millions of dollars, and you see the name is in the name of a trust instead of their personal name, it caused me to get real, real curious. It allowed me the opportunity to take what I was learning with my mom and really apply it in the real world. That really was the start of my career.
After high school, you chose to work full time with Comerica instead of becoming a full-time student. What led to that decision?
I started studying for my investment licenses at 18, and by 21 I became fully licensed to be a financial adviser. Over the years, I just took night classes. My company paid for my tuition and so I figured I would rather graduate debt-free with a job and a portfolio. It took me longer, I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree until my late 30s, but by that time I was with J.P. Morgan and they paid for my degree, so I graduated as an executive with a portfolio.
Between student loan debt, credit card debt, car notes — it’s hard. For those of us that are Black Americans, our issue is a little different than white Americans is that they had the ability to send their children to school — and they didn’t have to take on any extra debt. So when we talk about the wealth gap, a big reason is that we’re layered with debt. And many of our white peers don’t have to take out the same debt as we do and they tend to come out of college debt-free, with a job and a portfolio.
I’m talking about you own real estate, you own stocks, you own bonds, you have a retirement account, you have insurance, you have a savings account with at least 6 times your monthly expenses set aside. I’m talking about the basic foundations of creating wealth.
It was birthed with the goal to bring exposure to black women on Wall Street. Because we hear all the names; the Edward Jones, the Merrill Lynch, the J.P. Morgan, the Morgan Stanley. But do you ever hear a Black woman’s name on Wall Street? So our goal with Alexander Legacy is to be able to compete with the Goldman Sachs, the J.P. Morgans of the world to be able to offer opportunities for financial advisors to bring their books of business and have a platform where they can grow really strong practices for themselves. Our goal is to not only ensure we’re helping to create multi generational wealth so our children’s children don’t have to keep starting from zero, but be a platform for disenfranchised financial advisors that may not be getting the resources they need at the bigger firms.
No, It’s actually worse today than it was in the ’90s when I first got into the business. A big part of the work that I do is I advocate for more women to look at this, because this is a career that can earn you six figures, give you a seven-figure net worth, and give you your autonomy, flexibility, family time, and freedom back. But again, the problem is when you Google a financial advisor, you don’t see a woman that looks like me.
You know we as Black women tend to be the ones in charge of the household and managing the money. And that goes back to our ancestors when grandma was holding down that household and had to figure out how to make a dollar out of 15 cents. On the flip side I find that women have been scared to death to invest. They’re scared they’re going to lose their money or they’re putting their family’s welfare at risk. But I will tell you in the last year I have seen a large shift.I have more black women clients than I’ve ever had in history and they are saying, ‘I’m ready to start, to start taking control.’
Not saving for the future because they’re living for the day, they’re living for that next vacation. They’re not living for the fact that one day you’re going to blink and you’re going to be 50, you’re going to be 70 and will you have anything to show for your time on this earth. And so I tell young people all the time, even me as a 30 year veteran in this business if i could do it all over again, at 18 as soon as I had the first co-op job I would be funding my Roth IRA has much as I could, I was be maximizing my 401k at my job, I would be trying to pick up real estate for pennies on the dollar. I would be doing everything that I could to plan for the future.
It’s called “Founder at Legacy Lessons with Jaq” Our focus is interviewing legends that have lessons they are willing to share with us.
A new year is coming and millions of people are making financial goals they’re trying to establish for 2024. What advice would you offer them?
Money is an ongoing and a fluid subject and it shouldn’t just be addressed one time of the year albeit at the end of the year is always exciting because you’re at the family gatherings and at the family parties. I encourage people to use that time to talk about money. You’re in the room with grandma and grandpa and uncle and aunt and we can talk about coming together as a family, how are we going to take our family legacy to the next level? Are we going to invest more and are we going to save more? Talk to your loved ones about money. In the black culture we have to stop being so shielded when it comes to money. Be transparent about where you are and tell your family your goals.