NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk business is working to promote financial literacy and education to help grow wealth in the Black community.
Kenneth Royster is the president and CEO of First Genesis of Virginia, which is located off Church Street. The financial advisor says he entered into the financial services industry back in the 1980s after seeing another young Black man in a financial leadership position.
Royster says that man took him under his wing.
“In financial services, first if you look at the stats today, it’s 75% male-dominated, an average age of 60. You think about a young African American man breaking into a culture like that, it’s kind of difficult,” he said. “But again, having a person around who has achieved a certain level of success who is willing to mentor and guide was very helpful. It made me feel like I can do it.”
Royster says many of his other Black colleagues felt they had to conform to the culture of financial services, but he didn’t want to go that route and instead stuck with his heart.
“I chose not to go that route. I believed that our folks will take care of us if we took care of them and hence, here I am today 30 years later running a successful business with 90% of our clients African-American,” he said.
Royster says First Genesis was opened in 1994 and incorporated in 2015. He moved into his offices off Church Street in 2019 and works alongside members of his immediate family.
The business provides financial advice and planning for clients. He says one of the biggest misconceptions about Black wealth is the economic power the community has.
“When you have over a trillion dollars of spending power, you are a force to be reckoned with. What makes you a force not to be reckoned with is how you direct your trillion-dollar enterprise,” he said.
Royster says consumerism has impacted most of that power. It’s why he works on educating clients about investing and saving through personal budgeting and behavioral changes.
He believes more programs are needed to help communities that range in income brackets and wants bigger businesses and firms to invest in communities by helping to support training programs, education, and small businesses like his own to help the community.
Royster thinks that if this is done, there will be a bigger impact over the next decade.
“The biggest obstacle we continue to face is finding qualified advisors to join our firm, to believe in the same mission we have. This is a selfless mission because you have to be willing to pour into people who don’t have as much as you do. You can’t just grow yourself,” he said.
Royster is looking forward to helping more people this year.
“We may not get as many as we want but we will get some of those new people to make an impact right away. We’re going to train them like they’ve never been trained before because success is the only option,” he said.
The business is also starting an umbrella organization over First Genesis called Heritage Financial Partners and will open locations in seven major cities.
They are looking to employ recent college graduates, those who are interested in career changes, those who are currently in financial services, as well as people who have already retired but are interested in working again.
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