July 24, 2024

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CHIP launches revamped platform supporting Black and Latino finance professionals

The financial technology company Changing How Individuals Prosper launched an updated version of its CHIP Professionals platform on June 25 that connects businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals with Black and Latino financial services professionals.

In creating a platform that highlights professionals of color, founder and CEO Dana Wilson wanted to address the racial wealth gap. A 2023 dataset from the Federal Reserve found that the wealth of the average Black household was 15.75% and the average Latino household was 21.62% of the average white household’s wealth.

“Sometimes, if you’re talking to someone across the table to someone who … really just treats you as another number or another client that they need to get in and out, you’re missing the full experience of what it means to uplift someone personally,” Wilson said. “And then also from a wealth perspective, that first encounter that a lot of people of color tend to have can be their last encounter.”

READ MORE: 3 reasons Black Americans need to see Black financial advisors across the table

In 2020, when she was an investment advisor, Wilson created an initial version of CHIP Professionals as a directory of Black and Latino professionals.

“I didn’t really know what it was going to do or what I even wanted to do with this,” Wilson said. “But the more I doubled down on the importance of where I saw what this could be, and also the overall importance of seeing that intentional visibility, it was clear that this was a company that needed to continue to scale and be tested.”

The revamped platform is more scalable and has more functionalities, according to Wilson. 

Professionals on the platform can now customize their profiles to include videos and personal branding. They also have greater access to partner organizations such as professional and consumer bases, networking opportunities and media partners.

The platform offers users access through a paid subscription model, available for both individual and corporate users. Corporate and team subscriptions are tiered in price by company size. 

Wilson hopes to grow the 250 professionals who joined the original platform to 10,000 professionals on the new platform over the next two years. From there, she hopes to grow the number of profiles even more.

“This is not just a U.S. problem of not seeing the intentional visibility of people in financial services,” Wilson said. “It’s also a global issue, and we really hope to set ourselves at the intersection of technology and human capital to solve that problem globally.”

While the platform currently includes financial advisors, certified financial planners, accredited financial coaches, estate planners, attorneys, insurance professionals, CPAs and enrolled agents, Wilson said she hopes to expand to even more types of financial service professionals. 

“The way I foresee this becoming a tool is not only a place for finding clients, but also for professionals to grow, both personally and professionally and also have a community of like-minded peers,” said Luis Rosa, an advisory board member of CHIP and founder of Build a Better Financial Future, a Pasadena, California- and Las Vegas-based registered investment advisor. 

Cathey Williamson, president and CEO of Florissant, Missouri-based RIA Williamson Financial Management Group, has a profile on CHIP Pro and was part of beta testing for the improved platform. She said that having a platform like CHIP Pro to connect with other financial professionals of color, especially African American financial professionals, is “a dream” she’s had for a long time.

“We didn’t know who they were, where you could find them,” she said. “There was no opportunity to really connect unless we saw them somewhere. And so it made for a somewhat lonely type situation, and I think being able to talk to another professional in the area is a good thing.”

Wilson wants to utilize partnerships with other organizations as a growth strategy for CHIP, which she said will soon announce some of these projects.

“Collaboration is really how we start to move things forward,” Wilson said. “CHIP is only that vehicle in this push to go forward, and we go forward with more collaborative thought and thinking.”

Black and Latino people make up 2.0% and 3.1% of certified financial planners, respectively, according to the CFP Board. 

Rosa said that having a platform exclusively for Black and Latino advisors is important to give communities that have historically been underserved access to quality financial planning services. 

“I think that representation matters, and sometimes traditionally, I believe the industry in general has left a lot of people out of the capacity to get advice — just because typically relationships start with assets under management,” he said. “And a lot of people that happen to be minorities don’t necessarily have a ton of money to start investing right away.”

Wilson said that the lack of visibility of professionals of color is a challenge to servicing clients of color in order to address the racial wealth gap.  

“It’s not that we don’t exist,” Wilson said. “There’s actually a lot more of us than I think the numbers or the statistics actually allow for, it’s just that we also have not necessarily had the visibility of being seen … so a lot of it is just not having the exposure and the visibility.” 

READ MORE: How next gen advisors are poised to solve financial planning’s diversity deficit

Rosa agreed that the visibility the platform provides should be an incentive for professionals of color to create a profile on the website.

“It’s a great opportunity to be there, and it also provides an opportunity for people to find you that are specifically looking for someone like you,” he said. “So it kind of narrows it down, as opposed to just searching Google in a general way. There’s a platform, and they can just go in and narrow down so there are more chances to make a better connection.”

Williamson said that the visibility of professionals on the platform is good for professionals and potential clients alike. 

“Regardless of what anybody may say, there are cultural differences, and it’s important that we honor whatever differences are there, and then help people work within these things to be able to accumulate wealth, to protect their wealth. … To be able to assist in that regard is a huge thing,” she said.

READ MORE: A plan to build Black wealth in one community — and nationwide

As CHIP evolves, Wilson is guided by the goal of breaking down barriers that might otherwise prevent people from accessing financial services. 

“We just want to see great human beings and empathetic human beings and understanding human beings within our industry, and I think sometimes we’re at war with that,” Wilson said. “But because of that, this is why it’s important for companies like mine to exist — and other organizations and professionals who are champions of change — because we want to see our industry be as inviting and fruitful as others.”