Welcome to Hispanic Business LiveChat. We would like to welcome our special roundtable of panelists joining us today to take your questions on Driving Diversity: The Path to a Career in Finance.
Patrick from Sacramento, CA
For those of use who have never heard of Toigo, what does the organization do exactly? Can established financial professionales get involved?
The Robert Toigo Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the ongoing advancement of exceptional minority business degree students and alumni within the finance industry through scholarships, mentoring, internships and job placement. We work in collaboration with the nation's leading academic and financial institutions. We seek to foster diversity in the global marketplace and to promote ethics, integrity, community service and business leadership skills through the careers of these highly talented individuals.
James from Shreveport, LA
An MBA and Toigo Fellowship are obviously not for everyone. What are the honest requisites (both in terms of personality and education) of both of these?
We target minority students enrolling in full-time MBA programs around the country. Our criteria are:
-demonstration of the qualities of a Toigo Leader
-Employment success and impact
-Contribution to his/her community
-Commitment to a career in finance
AnnaMaria from Arlington, VA
How can I establish a successful career as a wealth manager? I am about to begin a career at UBS as a wealth manager and would like to receive some input on strategies on how to succeed as a Hispanic Manager.
As a wealth manager, you will be working one on one with individuals. Credibility is key. Developing an in-depth understanding of all the relevant investment strategies is critical -- this is a life long process. As a wealth manager, your focus will be on developing long term relationships -- with your clients, with other experts in your firm and in the industry. Clients must feel that you have their long-term interests at the forefront of every decision. As a new professional in finance, there are many opportunities for you to get involved with associations and professional networks that will allow you to build your own personal board of directors -- a group of trusted experts that you can rely on for career and professional advice. Oftentimes, this personal board of directors/network will lead to new client opportunities.
Phil from Reseda, CA
I am not really sure an MBA is right for me? Is there any way to figure out if pursuing an MBA is the right move? What kinds of jobs can you get?
The MBA gives you the opportunity to:
-Network with other talented and driven students and also be part of global alumni groups from the University.
-Switch career paths or give you more flexibility to go to different career paths later on.
-Opens your perspective about different career paths and gives you more options.
In my specific case, I wanted to pursue other options in my career and also wanted to establish a strong network in the business and financial community. I believe my MBA will give me those options.
Building on Julio's comment... the MBA is the only graduate degree that broadens your professional opportunities rather than narrowing them, i.e., being specific to one discipline like law or medicine. Acutally the MBA can even compliment these disciplines. Therefore, MBAs look at a multitude of opportunities and will likely have options to change their careers 4-5 times in their career lifetime...
Angel from Harlem, NY
There is a conception that the Hispanic community makes a lot of money, but fails to keep it. What role do Hispanic financial experts play in changing the way Hispanics handle thier finances? Also, is the speed with which the Hispanic population is growing putting pressue on financial institutions to pursue Hispanic financial professionals?
I believe there is increasing awareness of the collective economic power of the Latino community, today estimated at $700 Billion and expected to rise to $1 Trillion by the end of the decade. The average Hispanic family spends most of their income in basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation. As Hispanic families continue to increase their income, we are seeing rental expenditure converted to the genaration of mortagages, and increased consumption of health and other financial services. This is an opportunity that financial companies are becoming aware off and the hiring of Latinos is part of the plan of those who are addressing the opportunity the right way.
Ed from New York, NY
...another way that we work to ensure that their is comprehensive support of Latinos pursuing MBAs is through the Toigo Mentor and Alumni Coaches paired with each Fellow in the program. Toigo Mentors are senior executives in finance, usually white, who are willing to support the professional development of Toigo Fellows and open those doors traditionally closed to minorities...
James from Shreveport, LA
I've heard the finacialy world is very 'clubby.' Basically, you're entering a world where networks have been established throughout generations of family in the same field. How do you expect Hispanics, with virtually no contacts, to excel in such an environment?
The presumption that the financial industry is somewhat of an old boys club is understandable. However, I don't believe that networks are necessarily created only through generations of families, but instead, through contacts made in business school. More Hispanics should consider pursuing an MBA. They should also be aware of organizations such as Toigo and NAA that are there to support them. Of course, while relationship-building is important, good ideas are also key. It is also important to note that the Hispanic population and buying power is growing rapidly. Financial firms realize this and are working to recruit minorities to target these markets.
Connie from Philadelphia, PA
What IS being done to insure the advancement of Hispanics in the financial industry and in b-schools?
The Robert Toigo Foundation (RTF) continues to inspire Hispanics to pursue a business school degree and careers in finance through Fellowships, leadership development and access to mentors and a broader network of individuals in finance. Toigo has also established a collaboration with the New America Alliance (www.naaonline.org), which increases access to Latino professionals and role models who lead large organizations and are entrepreneurs in the financial industry.
The National Hispanic MBA Association (www.nshmba.org) also offers MBA preparation resources, career fairs and leadership development education at the national and local level. In addition, organizations such as SEO (www.seo-ny.org) and INROADS (www.inroads.org) offer internships in High School and College to expose people to corporate environments early on. Management Leadership for Tomorrow (www.ml4t.org) works with minorities to increase the pipeline of young people interested in business and finance and has an MBA prep program.
Several business schools also offer programs that expose young minority leaders to the business school setting. Two examples are LEAD (www.leadnational.org) hosted by Wharton, and the Summer Venture in Management Program, (www.hbs.edu/mba/svmp/index.html) offered by Harvard Business School.
Samuel from Toronto, ON
I am in college and would like to pursue an MBA, but am worried about the cost? Are there any steps I can take now to prepare myself for the cost of an MBA? Also, what sort of extra activities should I be pursuing? (mentorships, activities, internships, etc.)
There are different ways to deal with costs of MBA. I just finished my MBA and had no previous savings to pay for it. The key is to believe in yourself and that the investment is going to be worthwhile because it is an individual investment. Think about the long term and your future success after getting the MBA. I got Financial Aid and loans that will need to pay during the next few years. I also got fellowships such as Robert Toigo, New America Alliance and NSHMBA. The schools also have their own funds to provide merit scholarships. Depending on the industry you want to pursue after MBA, some corporations in Wall Street have full ride fellowships where they want you to work for summer internship and need you to work full time for few years after finishing your MBA. To prepare better financially try to pay any credit card debt before school starts.
To prepare for MBA admissions is best to show extra curricular activities that show your passion for higher education and your professional interest. Try to get some guidance to understand better about different paths after MBA: finance, corporate finance, planning, marketing, strategy etc.
Sue from Arlington, VA
What kind of a business culture do MBA's usually enter? Is the degree enough prep for it?
Your MBA will provide an excellent foundation, including a strong set of technical and analytical skills, that will serve you well as you begin your business career. This, however, is just part of the equation... The financial service sector is always changing -- new products and services are being developed daily. Economic issues are constantly in flux. Developing an ability to quickly grasp these new offerings/concepts and communicate them to your clients is critical. This is a life-long process that will span your career. At the same time, much of the financial business is about relationships. In addition to analytical skills, you will need to continually develop "soft" skills, such as networking, communicating, teamwork and listening to truly succeed.
Jose Aguilera from Chicago, IL
The discipline of finance and to some extend, that of economist, have transformed financing policies and finance institutions in the las few year due in large part to the Sar-Ox act. The Finance manager has increased responsibilities and new reporting commitments and regulations to wich he must comply and the number of Latino CFOs is almost nonexistent at major global corporations. What can be done to increase the number of Latino CFOs in corporate America? Perhaps the term of Diversity is just that, a simple term and opened word to encourage foreign representation? And how can the number of Finance executives be increased to reflect this emerging dilemma in recruitment and promotion to key decision-making roles like CFO.
I believe that to increase the number of Latino CFOs in Corporate America we need to begin by increasing the number of Latinos graduating with finance degrees given that the current pool is rather small as compared to Latinos who complete degrees in other business fields, technical fields or liberal arts. Organizations like Toigo, NAA, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and others have a role in increasing awareness and orientation for Latino students about opportunities and career path in finance. Corporate America also has a part in hiring, mentoring and retaining talented Latinos and other minorities who can rise to these positions.
Connie...building on Gabriela's and Julio's comments, business schools are very focused on ensuring that their populations are diverse and respectful of all backgrounds. We certainly encourage that you visit the websites of any MBA program that interests you. All of the programs that Gabriela mentioned are affiliated with MBA programs around the country. As Julio mentioned, they all have scholarships that you should investigate as well. Additionally, schools hold open-house programs focused introducing prospective candidates of color to their campuses. Finally, most MBA schools (at least those affiliated with Toigo) have diversity recruiters within their MBA Admissions teams who work to reach out to Latinos interested in business school and careers in finance...
John from West Lafayette, IN
Which are the key recruiting fairs to attend to access to jobs on the financial industry?
The National Hispanic MBA Association ( www.nshmba.org ) and the National Black MBA Association ( www.nbmbaa.org ) are two of the largest fairs that attract many financial services companies on and off Wall Street. They usually occur in September/October of each year.
The Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting ( www.alpfa.org ) also has an annual conference in August that is worth looking into.
Eugenia from Vienna, VA
Given the cutbacks in government and other public sector funding for education and nonprofit initiatives dedicating to ensuring equal opportunity for higher education, what can the corporate community do to increase diversity and to ensure that minorities are able to puruse careers in finance?
While the cutbacks are a level of concern that we all must face, Toigo is encouraged that the corporate community finds significant merit and benefit of supporting our mission. We work in collaboration with them to introduce them to our network of current Fellows (100 between the first and second year MBA classes) and close to 500 alumni and they draw from these pools to fill key roles within their organizations. Toigo continues to build its reach within the financial community from plan sponsors, corporate finance roles, investment banking and alternative roles in finance.
Alicia from Dallas, TX
What role are Hispanic financial professionals playing in the actual empowerement of and wealth creation in the Hispanic community? Are there initiatives within the industry to pursue goals beyond the scope of individual MBAs?
Historically, many Hispanics have relied on basic/traditional investment approaches driven largely by banks. Today, with more Hispanic investment professionals "at the table" a wider variety of products and services are being introduced and utilized by the community. For financial institutions, it is important to ensure that the professionnals they employ reflect the markets they are serving. As the Hispanic population grows, institutions will be looking to also expand their team of Hispanic investment professionals. NAA ( www.naaonline.org ) has several initiatives underway to address the "human capital" challenges facing the industry -- and is serving as an important catalyst for bringing a stronger voice to Hispanics in business.
john from Seattle, WA
What is the best way for a Hispanic business professional to network with NAA and Toigo? Get involved?
While the number of students who benefit from the NAA and Toigo scholarship and mentorship programs is limited given the organizations capacity, both NAA and Toigo have annual events that are open for registration. The NAA Wall Street Summit takes place in New York, October 26-28. The Toigo Annual Gala takes place also in New York, June 16. More information can be obtained at www.naaonline.org and www.toigofoundation.org
Eric from Hartford, CT
Taking into consideration socioeconomic hardships facing many Hispanic youth, what do you all think is the most effective way to ensure opportunities for Hispanics in the business world - particularly the world of finance?
Obviously, the Robert Toigo Foundation Fellowship is an excellent opportunity. Many schools also have need-based loans. Citibank offers a MBA loan opportunity called CitiAssist that is available through approx. 20 b-schools, and pays everything above what your other scholarships are able to cover. Wharton, where I am a Toigo Fellow, also offers scholarships as does the National Society of Hispanic MBA's (NSHMBA). The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute also publishes an extensive directory of scholarships. You can find the directory at www.chci.org - Toigo's website is www.toigofoundation.org and New America Alliance's site is www.naaonline.org
John...following Pilar's response, Toigo is also viewed as THE resource for identifying minority talent for organizations and firms throughout the US. Our reach is actually even going global now. So, we encourage you to visit our website ( www.toigofoundation.org ) often as we will be adding more opportunities for those interested in being a part of the Toigo network. Other ways to support and interact with Toigo, we are always interested in adding more mentors to our network (these are typically people with 10+ years of professional experience).
Erica from Goleta, CA
How is the current economic and social security situation effecting the financial sector, in terms of employment outlook, compensation, recruitment, incentives, etc?
The best way to stay current on the impact of economic and political factors on the financial services industry is to read the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and Hispanic Business. These reputable news sources all have online components and report on all of the issues above (and more) on a daily basis.
Alicia from Dallas, TX
I've read about Citigroup and JP Morgan's biased lending practices, as well as several other target scams among large financial corporations. What responsibility do you (or minority financial professionals in general) feel when the 'big names' are exposed as scamming the 'minorities' they claim to hold so dear?
Alicia...the business environment (and even other professions) is always challenged to *keep its nose clean*. But, it is important to remember that these actions are those of individuals rather than a function of the professional roles they possess. Toigo teaches our Fellows to be responsible leaders and recognize that they carry more than their own reputation, but the reputation of Bob and Sue Toigo who started this organization more than 16 years ago. So, with the perspective that Toigo Fellows represent not only an idea, but also the life work of the Toigos, they are even more aware of how their actions carry over into the larger scope of business and finance. We are proud of our Fellows and Alumni and that they continue to set the standard for ethical behavior in business as well as serving as role models to their communities.
Elaine from Boston, MA
As insiders, can you offer any explanation as to why the participation of Hispanics in leadership and executive roles on corporate boards and in the finance industry continues to lag?
Given the way that corporate directors have been historically appointed, by closed selection people in the inside network in a rather subjective manner, has kept Latinos out of the mix with only about 2% of corporate directors currently of Latino background. In terms of the finance industry, low Latino participation has a lot to do with low graduation and entry of Latinos to the industry. Beyond this, in both cases lack of participation in the networks has reduced the chance for Latinos to participate. This is changing in part due to the advocacy of organizations like Hispanic Assn on Corporate Responsibility (www.hacr.org) and affirmative action by corporations and financial companies that value and recognize the contribution Latinos can make to the operation's succcess and bootom line.
This concludes our Hispanic Business LiveChat. A big thanks to our Roundtable Panelists:
Tiffany Showell, Director of Fellow and Alumni Programming,
Robert Toigo Foundation, www.toigofoundation.org
Gabriela Snyder, Fellowship Program Administrator,
Robert Toigo Foundation www.toigofoundation.org
Maria del Pilar Avila, VP of Marketing, Palladium Equity Partners, Former Exec Director/Current Member, New America Alliance
Thomas Melendez, Toigo Alumnus and Mentor (Columbia '92),
MFS Investment Management www.mfs.com
David Moradi, Toigo Fellow, The Wharton School
Julio Obeso, Toigo Fellow, The Wharton School