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3 Expert Tips for Finding Financial Advice for People of Color

Our experts answer readers’ investing questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess investing products). Paid non-client promotion: In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners. Our opinions are always our own.It can be challenging to have open and honest conversations about money, especially for people of color, who may be deterred from talking about money or building wealth. Growing up, I was taught to be grateful for having food on the table and having a job at all, and any mention of negotiating salary or rates was met with comments about sounding greedy or focusing too much on money.Still, I knew that I wanted to earn enough to be financially independent as soon as possible so I didn’t have to rely on others and could achieve my own goals of owning a home where I felt safe and welcomed, traveling the world, and running my business full time.Thankfully, my older brother is a financial advisor who’s held me accountable to invest from a young age, build up an emergency fund, and take advantage of my employer’s 401(k) match from the very beginning of my career.As I’ve talked with more friends, I’ve realized that others want to find someone they trust when it comes to financial guidance who can help them take action. This is where financial advisors and money coaches like Jazmin Higgins, a Latina personal finance coach running Budget With Jazmin, can come in.Higgins grew up in poverty, so she didn’t learn about money management from her family. Her relationship with money didn’t change until she had two kids and a business.”I remember feeling like I was one emergency away from not being able to pay my bills,” Higgins says. “It was a wake-up call to start seeking outside help, and then I started to pay forward the knowledge that I had gained.”After discovering a personal finance podcast about financial wellness, she went from not having a budget at all to paying down $70,000 in debt and building up an emergency fund.”I was taught that money doesn’t grow on trees and that it was rude to discuss at the dinner table. Those are limited beliefs that pass down from generation to generation. That holds us back,” Higgins says. “If we don’t talk about our money goals or wins, how can we view money as a tool?”Trauma around money can be a barrier to finding financial advice for people of color — it can be hard to know where to start. Higgins has three tips.First, ask yourself if you’re looking for a financial advisor or money coach, or potentially both. Many financial advisors are fiduciaries, who are legally obligated to act in your financial interest. However, money coaches may still be worth considering.”A money coach may not have an incentive to encourage you to use one institution over another,” Higgins says. “Instead, they’re there to support you in setting goals and work through challenges you may have.”It’s also common to feel ashamed talking about money at all. As a financial coach, Higgins says that some of her clients who are people of color have never talked openly about money and don’t know their credit card or 401(k) balance.”Some clients think that having money means that they’d have to give back,” Higgins says. “It takes work to see themselves as someone who deserves security and savings.”Another consideration is how financial advisors or money coaches are paid. Some financial advisors and coaches like Higgins are paid a flat fee, while others are paid a percentage of the asset they manage. Others are paid through commission when you sign up for certain products like insurance policies or accounts. It’s worth asking yourself how much you want to invest in hiring help for your own financial wellness journey, what value it can bring to your life, and what model makes the most sense for your needs.People of color often want to work with someone who supports them holistically — someone who understands not only their individual goals but also the ways they want to support their families and help them work through the money trauma or scarcity mindset around money they may have grown up with. Financial advisors and money coaches can both play a role in that.The first step is to find people and resources you trust, whether it’s a partner, close friend, or book that can help you start learning about financial wellness.”You can go to the library and start by reading some of the best personal finance books like ‘Financial Feminist’ by Tori Dunlap or ‘I Will Teach You to Be Rich’ by Ramit Sethi,'” Higgins says. “These resources can get you started with things like creating a budget or starting your investing journey.”If you feel ready to start working with a financial advisor or money coach, it helps to be transparent about your assets and what your financial goals are. Sometimes, financial goals are focused on paying debt, but that’s not the only option. It could be funding a wedding, traveling more, saving for a down payment on a home, donating to a charity, and more. If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you may be looking for a financial advisor who can help you navigate seasonal changes in revenue and goal-setting.”One of the most common goals is navigating a life transition, which could involve getting married or divorced, buying a home or car, or family planning,” Higgins says. “What matters most is knowing what you’re working toward. If you have a reason to start, that’s enough.”Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three fiduciary financial advisors in your area in minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. Start your search now.Equally important is finding a financial advisor or coach that can help you learn about your own finances and your options for building wealth.”Look for a financial advisor that has the heart of a teacher,” Higgins says. “For example, it can be scary to watch the news and see that stocks are down. If that’s you, find a financial advisor to help you deepen your understanding while respecting your boundaries with risk.”At the end of the day, remember that a financial advisor or coach is helping you with managing your money, not theirs. Plus, the advice from coaching and advising is only as good as the action you take.You also have autonomy on what financial advice you want to take based on your needs.”Most of the time, advisors aren’t the ones doing the work,” Higgins says. “You still have to negotiate your salary, open a high-yield savings account, automate your savings, and put away your credit card if you have debt.”Ultimately, choosing the right financial advisor is an incredibly personal process, so lead with your own financial goals and needs, and know that it’s OK to ask questions and seek help when you need it. It can also help to find an advisor like Higgins who shares your identity or lived experience, which can help you feel a little less alone in the process.”What matters most is that you start taking action wherever you’re at,” Higgins said.This article was originally published in June 2023.