This Northwestern Mutual Advisor Wants to Close the Gap for People of Color in the Financial Industry was originally published on Firsthand.
Originally from Togo, Africa, Bilal Afolabi came to Connecticut with his family when he was eight. Afolabi credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his father, a small-business owner who started his own trucking company at a young age.
“Growing up, my father showed me the value of hard work, dedication and grit,” says Afolabi.
Upon entering college, Afolabi decided to pursue a degree in finance and economics, as he wanted to be able to help families and individuals plan for their future. His freshman year, he accepted an internship with Northwestern Mutual, and his journey as a financial representative began.
He earned his CFP®certification to provide the best possible advice for his clients, and he encourages any peer considering the certification to do the same. From financial planning and investment strategies, to education funding and business succession planning, Afolabi’s expertise accommodates a wide range of client needs.
Afolabi views his role as a person of color in the financial industry as a tremendous opportunity to help close a gap, given that less than two percent of CFP® professionals are Black. Afolabi is focused on system change, and he puts a great deal of time and effort into helping people of color with financial literacy.
“This is something that greatly motivates me,” says Afolabi. “My father was not the savviest person financially and didn’t have the education or exposure to the things I have learned. It is up to me, and other Black financial representatives, to educate more people of color on financial literacy.”
Though his profession allows him flexibility, he’s proud of what he calls his “work/life integration” because he fosters close relationships with his clients.
“Our clients become friends,” he says. “They start a business; we show up. They have a baby; we send a gift. Literally, we are in this thing together.” He understands that trust is the most important part of a successful advisor/client relationship.
When asked to describe the biggest benefit of being a financial advisor, Afolabi says “It’s helping our clients plan for their life, not just their money. It’s being there with a family and telling them with confidence that, no matter what comes their way, we’ve got a plan in place. The impact you’re able to have is hard to describe or emulate anywhere else.”
To learn more about Northwestern Mutual and its field professionals, visit NM.com.
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Bilal Afolabi is an Insurance Agent of NM. Not all Northwestern Mutual representatives are advisors. Only those representatives with “Advisor” in their title or who otherwise disclose their status as an advisor of NMWMC are credentialed as NMWMC representatives to provide investment advisory services.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.