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Diversity & Inclusion

Uplifting 10,000 Lives by 2030: Wall Street Bound’s Quest to Enhance Diversity in Financial Services

In 2019, Troy Prince created Wall Street Bound, a non-profit organization that strives to empower young people of color to become agents of change and advance diversity within the financial services industry.

When Troy Prince first started on Wall Street, he lamented the lack of diversity. Year after year, he continued to be one of the only people of color (POC) on the trading floor. After 25 years, he was tired of waiting to see more people who looked like him. In 2019, Prince created Wall Street Bound, a non-profit organization that strives to empower young people of color to become agents of change and advance diversity within the financial services industry. With the goal of diversifying economic participation, Wall Street Bound provides financial literacy and financial opportunities to college students and recent graduates. From offering financial services training bootcamps to providing access to investment capital up to $250,000, Wall Street Bound is on a mission to uplift 10,000 young people of color by 2030.

Financial literacy is its own epidemic in America. In a 2018 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority study (FINRA), just 30% of Americans could answer four out of five financial literacy questions correctly. In other words, 70% of the country has a financial literacy knowledge equal to a D or below. These numbers are only made worse when filtered by race. In 2021, the TIAA Institute, a research organization dedicated to increasing financial security and higher education, performed a financial literacy study, finding that Black participants answered an average of 38% of the questions correctly.

Prince believes this disparity is due in part to the historical lack of financial education in households of color.

“We don't grow up having these conversations around the kitchen table,” Prince said.

The research reinforces Prince’s sentiment. In the same TIAA study, white Americans scored almost 20% higher than Black Americans. And a recent study by Commonwealth, a non-profit dedicated to building financial security among vulnerable populations, found that one of the barriers to wealth and market participation among people of color is “Actionable Knowledge”—financial literacy.

But financial literacy does not require a graduate-level economics course.

“I have a 10-year-old, and we talk stocks,” said Prince, noting that the importance of early education is why Wall Street Bound is geared toward college-aged students.

Providing Financial Education

Prince describes these students as “hungry” for opportunity, education and mentorship. In a final presentation in a bootcamp at Medgar Evers College, a student initially intrigued Prince when his presentation began late with his camera off. Afterward, Prince discovered the student was presenting from the stairwell of a homeless shelter.

“That just [represents] the hunger that’s out there,” he said.

Feeding the hunger of these students requires a keen eye toward innovative educational initiatives. Rather than academic lectures, the IRS recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit uses an experiential approach with lessons designed from a practitioner standpoint, paired with discussion-based classes taught by POC instructors. Prince emphasized the importance of mentors and teachers to be people of color.

“The messenger matters. These students are used to seeing authority figures that don't look like them,” he said.

POC instructors and mentors are consistent throughout Wall Street Bound from its in-person programs to its online offerings, such as Finance Fridays, a series of interviews with financial professionals of color and members of the Wall Street Bound community.

Changing the Face of Wallstreet

The company has three programs targeted at students with various interests in financial services.

Introduction to Wall Street Bootcamp aims to meet students where they are. In this 20-25-hour program, students are taught the history of Wall Street, an introduction to financial modeling and the soft skills necessary to succeed in financial services.

In 2021, the Nasdaq Foundation awarded Wall Street Bound a grant to support these Bootcamps, which act as a building block to its Wall Street Direct program. The grants are part of the Nasdaq Foundation’s mission to reimagine investor engagement by equipping under-represented communities with the financial knowledge to share in the wealth that markets create. Nasdaq’s grant program is just one of the ways we are sticking to our purpose initiative of advancing inclusive growth and prosperity.

The Wall Street Direct program is the next step of education for students that wish to pursue a career in finance. A rigorous 10-week program focused on teaching the hard and technical skills necessary to succeed on Wall Street. This program prepares recent graduates for internships and full-time jobs at leading financial firms. Those that complete the program with distinction receive acclaimed industry recognized certifications from FINRA and the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association (CAIA). These certifications are essential resume builders to bridging the gap of diversity on Wall Street, according to Prince.

“Your name sounds a certain way; you’re coming from a school that’s not a brand. But when you get the letters FINRA on your resume—it’s a game changer,” he said.

Alumni also gain access to interviews with Wall Street Bound’s partner firms and their direct sponsors, including U.S. Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, IHS Markit and Jackson Square Partners.

Changing the Game

Since its inception, Wall Street Bound has been looking for a myriad of ways to expand its educational initiatives while uplifting communities. Findings from the Commonwealth study and Nasdaq’s Entrepreneurial Center indicate that access to capital is one of the main obstacles for minority business owners. But with Wall Street Bound’s Diverse Trader Training, participants trade and manage up to $250,000 with the added benefit of keeping 70%-80% of the profits they generate.

One participant in the Diverse Trader Training is currently trading from his home on The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Reservation in Michigan.

“This is where that story of economic participation and Wall Street really begins to take shape,” Prince said.

The company’s two most recent initiatives are expanding its work globally. With Wall Street Bound Academy and the Community Portal, students have access to online courses and networking opportunities anywhere in the world, on their schedule.  

“Students are just hungry, hungry, hungry—hungry for mentors, hungry for guidance, hungry for instruction. And now, [it’s] all in the palm of their hands,” said Prince. “This is something that's really going to take our mission and our work to the next level.”

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