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Q&A with Mathias Schulenburg, M Financial – Financial Alliance for Racial Equity

We sat down with Mathias Schulenburg from M Financial to pick his brain on the state of the financial services industry. Where are we now? Where are we headed? Who will lead us into the future? Matthias offers his insights on some of the burning questions facing the industry.

M Financial is a member of the Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE), which is sponsoring the upcoming Diversitas Symposium.  FARE is a unique partnership of HBCUs and financial services organizations seeking to build sustainable economic wealth in diverse communities and increase the number of Black advisors and financial professionals through expanded research, increased training, and mentorship opportunities.

The virtual Diversitas Symposium is taking place Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021 and is free to attend. Speakers will dive into the future of the industry and opportunities for young professionals looking to succeed in financial services. Register to attend here.

What impact do you anticipate the aging workforce will have on the advisory industry in the coming years if we don’t see an uptick in next generation advisors joining the industry?

As the older generation retires from the workforce, we could see a decline in the service provided by financial institutions. This may mean overextended staff or a lack of availability of personal advisors in some areas. This may also affect support personnel in other divisions, such as analysts and engineers, who will need the next generation to learn legacy systems and become power users and process owners. We’ll need the next generation to advance current systems or processes so companies can scale to meet current demand.

Another side effect of not having next generation advisors is that financial literacy could decline in the United States as a whole. This is especially important as it could disproportionally affect diverse communities who are already underrepresented in the financial community. The services provided by the financial industry can provide the financial education that can be vital to providing equity to underrepresented communities.

What are the major opportunities you see for young professionals entering the industry?

The financial industry, whether it be as an advisor or in another position, will need people to fill their roles who understand both the financial industry and the all of the generations as far as lifestyle and trends. The insurance needed by Millennials is different than that of their parents and the way they interact with their advisors and accounts is changing as well. All these needs will need to be met by the next generation, especially as the financial industry modernizes its technology and processes.

Another major opportunity I believe will always exist in the financial industry is it will always need individuals of all backgrounds as it serves individuals of all backgrounds. Everyone can benefit from financial literacy and understanding their options when it comes to financial planning and insurance. This means there will always be opportunity for young individuals as the habits of younger generations evolve.

How do you suggest young professionals find mentors, and how should they leverage that relationship to their advantage?

As someone who struggled with finding mentors initially, I found that LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource. Early in my career, I made it a goal to develop my LinkedIn profile as soon as I entered the workforce and to make as many connections as possible. This has served me greatly as my connections slowly grew and diversified over time, opening lines of communication with a variety of professionals and industries. One of the best things about LinkedIn is that individuals, for the most part, are very open to answering your questions. I have asked questions from connections on topics ranging from sales to data analysis, and it has helped me shape my career path and determine what kind of work I might enjoy doing.

Another method I have used to find mentors is to reach out to peers who have pursued similar lines of work. Some of my most insightful connections have come from college and high school friends. Having a diverse network is key to success in any line of work as you gain experience in interacting with individuals of different backgrounds.

What impact do you hope organizations like Diversitas will have on the wealth management industry in the coming years?

I hope organizations like Diversitas can help spread financial literacy to underrepresented communities. I believe financial education is key to decreasing poverty and providing more individuals with resources to help themselves and their families financially. This can be seen in providing education when it comes to savings strategies, investment education, life insurance, and retirement plans. These all are crucial to providing opportunity and equity for future generations.

Another hope I have for organizations like Diversitas is to help individuals of unrepresented communities gain employment and mentorship opportunities within financial organizations. This will play an important role in increasing diversity and thus the potential reach for advisors to provide financial education to their communities. As the diversity of the workforce increases over time, I would hope to see an increase in the equity of underrepresented communities as the wealth of each consecutive generation increases over time. Another side effect of increased diversity could be more trust in the financial industry as individuals learn to trust their advisors and the organizations they work for.

Mathias Schulenburg is Client Reporting Analyst at M Financial. He graduated from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Managerial Economics in 2015 and has experience in Sales, Recruitment, and Data Analysis. As a Reporting Analyst in the financial industry, he is excited to see how the technologies used within the financial industry are improved upon to better serve customers and advisors.

The Financial Alliance for Racial Equity (FARE) consortium is comprised of leading companies in the financial services industry. In addition to M Financial, FARE is led by Nationwide Financial,  Franklin Templeton, and NFP.