NAIFA’s Diversity Task Force held a successful Diversity Symposium in May. This event brought together forward-thinking executives from some of the nation’s top financial firms to discuss the importance of having a diverse workforce and provide helpful hints for making this happen.
We recently caught up with one of the task force’s members, Aamir Chalisa, who shared with us the business case for having a culturally diverse workforce and outlined the steps to achieve this goal.
NAIFA: Why is it important for the financial-services industry to have agents and advisors from culturally diverse markets?
Aamir Chalisa: The United States is changing rapidly and becoming more culturally diverse each and every day. We have folks immigrating from all over the world to the U.S. This creates an opportunity for the financial-advisory industry to attract and retain agents from these diverse markets.
NAIFA: What are some of the benefits of having a culturally diverse workforce?
Chalisa: Having a culturally diverse workforce allows you to serve your marketplace and community better. Also, a diverse agent force signals to your customers that you are in tune with the changing face of America and that you have the capacity to deal with people from diverse markets and serve them well.
NAIFA: How do you recruit and train culturally diverse agents, and how do you retain them once they are on board?
Chalisa: You recruit diverse agents directly from the communities in which they live and then train them to understand the nuances of each culture. To ensure success, you provide them not just with training but also with foreign-language marketing materials in areas where language may be a barrier, such as in the Hispanic and Chinese communities. You retain them by training them well, creating a climate of inclusion in your organization and supporting their marketing activities in the various communities they serve.
NAIFA: Can you share a few best practices one can use to manage culturally diverse agents and advisors successfully?
Chalisa: Creating a “United Nations” in my branch is the cornerstone of my success in the industry. I truly believe that we have to work in, and support, all markets. We have to help people in diverse markets, many of whom are new to this country and are looking for direction in managing their finances. As a manager of an organization, I recognize having diverse agents on board to support people in these markets will help you gain more clients and help you become more successful in your practice.
NAIFA: How does cultural diversity affect the bottom line of a financial services practice?
Chalisa: Many financial services practices are catering to diverse markets now. This is because you have a lot of immigrants who have done well financially, own large companies, and are looking for agents and advisors who do comprehensive financial planning. As a result, diversifying your workforce will help generate more revenue and positively affect your bottom line.
NAIFA: What is the most important piece of advice for advisors looking to make their practice more culturally diverse?
Chalisa: Live and breathe diversity every day, and embrace it. Embrace it not because it’s the nice thing to do, but because it’s the right way of doing business in our world today. America is not a melting pot; it is a salad bowl, with cultural diversity built into the very fabric of the society. Consequently, if you are a businessperson, it’s in your best interest to understand this development and seek to build diversity at every level of your operation. If you do this, your practice will grow, and you will feel good that you are helping people of all income levels in your community become more financially secure.