As we all know, February is Black History Month. A time dedicated to reflect on history celebrate the successes of the black community. Recently Penny Anthem had the amazing opportunity to interview a woman in finance- Jasmine Ball. Jasmine has been in the financial industry for about 5 years. Her experiences and the path that lead her to where she is aren’t exactly predictable.
She’s well spoken, intelligent, and above all- easy to talk to. It’s no wonder why we wanted to celebrate her success! Throughout the interview she reveals how she came to be an advisor. Although she works with a diverse clientele, Jasmine finds herself advocating for women and educators as they tend to be less involved. She may not be the ‘typical’ advisor when it comes to finance, but she is damn well good at it. And for that, we can all learn a thing or two.
Q: Jasmine, what exactly does your job entail?
A: I guess the main components are reaching out to people who I think may be interested in learning more about what I do, setting an appointment with them, and then talking to them about what their individual financial goals are and presenting a plan to help them achieve them. Basically, I educate people on the financial tools available to them to help them reach their goals.
“I realized it was less “Wolf of Wall Street” and more of just building relationships and educating people on how to meet their financial goals“
Q: When did you first become interested in finance?
A: It sounds odd, but I’m most interested in education. Obviously, I enjoy finance and find it intricate and awesome. However, the reason I decided to work in finance is a lot different than most stories. I came from a working-class family, grew up in rural (7k population) northern California, and somehow managed to be the first of my family to graduate from college. The entire college process was very confusing but I ended up double majoring in Education and Psychology and minoring in Philosophy. Not a very direct line to finance. My sophomore year I started to babysit for this family in St. Paul and the mom was a financial advisor and had been with the same company for 25+ years. After working for them for a little while, she asked if I would want to supplement my income by working for her as her 2nd assistant at the investment office. I was very intimidated because I didn’t know anything about finances, but 1) I needed the money for school 2) I was never the type to shy away from a challenge. It was a difficult learning curve, but worth it. I realized it was less “Wolf of Wall Street” and more of just building relationships and educating people on how to meet their financial goals. When I saw being an advisor from the perspective of education as opposed to the heartless, money-hungry, pretentious people just trying to hit sales quotas—I was in.
Q: Do you have a specific clientele you enjoy working with?
A: I have a very diverse client book but my ideal clientele would be women of color. I feel I have the most in common with them and that they have the most to gain. Not only are women statistically less involved in taking control of their finances, but it’s even worse for women of color. Especially during these unique times in our country, I feel there’s no better population for me to focus on. It’s so important to work with an advisor you feel comfortable with and a lot of that stems from working with someone that can relate to what you may go through or experiences you have had. I also have a soft spot for educators. They’re grossly underpaid and often taken advantage of when it comes to finances.
“I know what I’m talking about and I’m good at what I do, so once I start talking they realize that as well and I feel color and gender fade away“
Q: You’re Penny Anthem’s guest for Black History Month, and we’re so glad to have your expertise/experiences. Can you offer us any insight into working in a field that’s dominated by white males?
A: My favorite thing to hear when I tell people my profession is “Wow, you don’t look like a financial Advisor!” I smile and say “Well, thank you!” I don’t want to look like a financial advisor.
Also what does a financial advisor look like? Basically, a financial advisor looks like an older white male. I love to be different and I feel like people I work with appreciate that. For the most part I’ve not had any difficulties of people working with me but I’m also tactical about who I market myself to. Unfortunately, there are still parts of Southern California (and the world) that are less likely to work with not only women but then also a woman of color. I don’t let it stop me though, and honestly if that’s how they feel I don’t want to work with them either. We need more women in finance but I’d love to see more women of color in finance!
Q: Women aren’t largely represented as financial gurus- have you ever-experienced pushback because of your gender and/or race? If so, how did you overcome that situation?
A: It’s a tedious thing to sit down with an Alpha male and basically tell him that he doesn’t have everything all figured out when it comes to finances. That obviously wouldn’t work to approach the situation like that, so my Psychology background comes in handy quite often. I navigate the situation very carefully and use very affirmative language, offer insight, and lead them to my recommendation. That’s education done right though. I explain the situation, the possible pros and cons of each solution and hope that from that they come to the right conclusion.
I’ve not had any overt form of pushback in relation to my race, but there are instances where I can tell people are a little hesitant and in those cases I just talk to them and build a relationship so they are looking more to me as opposed to my color. Plus, I know what I’m talking about and I’m good at what I do, so once I start talking they realize that as well and I feel color and gender fade away. I will say though, that I do have to be aware of who I’m meeting with because that will influence how I dress or which anecdotes I may reference. We have come a long way in this country but also have a long way to go in relation to how we view people of color and especially women of color. I must think about how I speak, how I do my hair, and how I may reference politics, religion, or other sensitive topics. It just really goes to show, in my opinion the emphasis on this career is less finance and more relationships.
Q: You’ve held a few positions within the industry- from being an assistant- a manager that helps other’s grow their careers- and now focusing as a financial rep. How has your career path lead affected your success?
A: I feel that the unique circumstances that led me to my position I am in now have 100% contributed to my success. I was fortunate enough to learn the career from the ground up. Many times, people come in in the middle and don’t realize the assistant side of it. Also, being in management for a little over a year was the best thing I could do to boost my career. That’s an accelerated learning curve and you learn best when you first must teach. I’m so happy to be back in the field meeting with clients on a full-time basis again though. I missed it, and I missed my clients. I love learning and I learn something new every time I meet with people. Just last week I was sitting down with one prospect and having a conversation about their experience growing up in Alabama during the 50s and then I was having another conversation with a client about restoring old cars. The collective knowledge of all the people I meet with is astounding. I love it.
Q: Our readers are typically new to handling their personal finances; what advice would you give to them regarding money?
A: I always say, “You have to make the conscious decision to unconsciously save.” Saving is the foundation. Start there and once you’re comfortable start with maybe life insurance or investments of some sort. I do believe in using a financial advisor though because it just takes a lot of the stress and sometimes emotion out of the situation. I truly believe anyone could do my job, but not everyone does. So just like I could learn how to change the oil in my car, I honestly would just rather pay someone to do it for me so I can focus on things that I find much more enjoyable.
“My favorite thing to do is to write my current budget and then write a dream budget“
Q: Any personal tips/tricks you personally use to stay in control of your money?
A: Write a budget! My favorite thing to do is to write my current budget and then write a dream budget. I do think it’s important to be realistic in your budget as well, build in things you enjoy but also be realistic. A good way to track your budget is with apps like Mint or even just grabbing a journal and writing down what you’re spending. I started doing this thing where I give myself $50/week to spend. This doesn’t include normal reoccurring expenses like gas, groceries, rent, etc. This is more for things that I don’t need but I spend money on like going out to eat, getting my nails done, buying random things on Amazon. I just realized I needed to curb my spending and it has been working so far. I feel like it puts me more in control of my finances to have a plan for my money. The base of every success starts with a plan, so just make one. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ll help you J
Q: Penny Anthem encourages our readers to build their ‘fun money’ into their budgets. Often money is a source of stress when it should be a source of enjoyment. What’s an example of something outside your savings/bills that you allow yourself to spend money on?
A: I guess I kind of answered that in the last question, but typically I spend my “fun money” on hanging out with friends. Good tip is Happy Hour. Everything is less expensive so your fun money can go further. I’ve also started using Groupon more too or websites like that. Why pay more when you can pay less? It’s worth it.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
A: Finance seems intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t feel like you have to understand everything or be an expert. Everyone always knows more about one topic than another person. I may educate people on finances but they’ll educate me on a topic that they’re an expert in. It’s awesome to learn and the first step is just trying to take control of your finances. As women, we live longer than men but also make less, which means saving can be more difficult. So, we’ve got to help each other and be diligent in elevating ourselves financially. Also, finances are different for every person, that’s the beauty of it all. We’re all so unique and so are our goals and our plan to get there. Write it down, create a plan, and follow it or have someone help you follow it.
“…We’ve got to help each other and be diligent in elevating ourselves financially“