Chelsea Dawkins, a financial relationship advisor in Chicago, says she’s on the right career path. (She is one
of 625 FRAs, who work with clients with lower asset levels.)
“The reason I wanted to get into this [business] is that luckily I
was born into a home in which my father’s worked in finance and
had that [background],” the junior Dawkins said.
Her father, David Dawkins, now the director of Diverse
Client Segments for Wells Fargo Advisors, became an advisor
some four decades ago.
“But so many people that look like me, and … that I know,
don’t know anything about finance,” Chelsea explained. “And
unfortunately it shows, right? We as a community, the black
American community, struggle with finance and understand-
ing what to do with it even when we get it.”
This situation also motivated her to go into advisor work,
she says: “I really wanted to join this business to help combat
the issue that we face in the community — whether that’s the
wealth gap or a lack of knowledge. And [it’s about] trying to
build up our community, so we can continue to grow and to be
active members of our society. Doing that takes resources and
knowledge, so I really wanted to do this.”
But she didn’t want to go the “traditional way” in which after
a few weeks of training, “you are on your own and … call your
friends, call your family, anyone you know with any kind of
money at all” to build your book of business, Chelsea explained.
At a branch in Chicago, she now works with several advisors
and their clients. “I’m working with existing relationships,
building those relationships and continuing to strengthen
them. It’s a little different approach than the traditional
[one] — ‘here’s a phone book. And good luck,’” she said.
The training is spread over two years. “That gets you on
your way and sets you up for success in a way that that’s very
unique,” Chelsea said.
“It’s going great. The Chicago market
is … very large, … so there are lots of
advisors that I work with,” she said. Plus,
“My dad is … a phone call away if I run
into anything and using his 40 years of
experience has definitely been helpful.”
The young advisor says she is talking to others about financial advice
careers. “I told one person I met with,
for instance, about the programs that
we have here, and [that] it’s an amazing opportunity for people interested
in the business but who don’t have the
personal connections that people traditionally needed to be successful [in it],”
Her father, who helps run Wells Fargo Advisors’ diversity
efforts that specifically focus on mentoring, says this and other
recruitment and training programs are game-changers.
“We are doing something here that I think is incredible,” David
said, about the retention of next-gen advisors of color. “We’ve cre-
ated a way to develop them, retain them and if they are interested,
help them go into leadership, so that we can attract even more.”
The senior Dawkins cut his teeth in the business in 1980 at
Merrill Lynch. “The day I started I was called by two gentle-
men. … I still remember their names, because they were the
only two African American advisors I was aware of [back
then]. They made a point of reaching out,” David explained.
“Fast forward [to Wells Fargo’s event this summer], when I
walked into a room … and there were 170 of us!” he said. “I … said
to myself, ‘This looks like a black African American summit.’”
“I had an emotional experience. I cried about it. After … [so
many years] in the business …, for the first time I felt like I was
among people of a common experience who understood what
I lived for [so long],” David explained. “Yeah, I was emotional.”
These sentiments and a desire to see more people of color in
the business are why “I am doing what I do today. … And I am
happy and proud to be a part of an organization that sees that
as critical to the future. That diversity is important. And we’re
very serious about it,” the senior Dawkins explained.
His daughter says that the program for financial relationship advisors includes people of many different backgrounds.
“We’re kind of changing the face of financial advising, which is
really interesting,” she said.
Her father says such programs are essential, both for Wells
Fargo and for the broader community. “We are innovating on
that and creating a model that hopefully one day others will
replicate. I’m proud to be one of those leading that.
“Ultimately, then, Wells Fargo can be the destination of choice
for financial advisors and leaders in our business, for team members and for clients,” he said. “We’re looking to change their
financial futures and help them succeed financially.”
Director, Diverse Client Segments
Wells Fargo Advisors, Orlando
STARTED JANUARY 1980 (AT MERRILL LYNCH)
Financial Relationship Advisor
Wells Fargo Advisors, Chicago
STARTED DECEMBER 2017