What is going on as of November 2021, as we draw 2021 to a close? In considering a couple of ethical issues I was planning to discuss, I happened to be viewing our Fall/Winter paper publication of Advisor Today, which states that our NAIFA leadership has signed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) pledges. It quickly occurred to me how important this decision was. In taking this step forward, our CEO Kevin Mayeux, CAE, joined almost 2,000 CEOs in becoming a member of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Coalition, signing a pledge to collaborate in supporting a more inclusive environment.
Diane Boyle, NAIFA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations, signed the Diversity in Government Relations (DRG) Pledge along with other professionals in striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion in advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels. The DRG Coalition has as its goal to foster and strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion within entities that provide influence to local, state, and federal policy.
In addition, the new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion e-book NAIFA has produced that can be downloaded from the Talent Development Center provides a number of insights for building diversity, equity, and inclusion in our business practice. The e-book shows NAIFA members in efforts to provide financial security for all by recruiting and developing diverse talent while educating our members to serve underserved populations. The availability of the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion e-book provides active opportunities to make significant strides forward in seeking a diverse, equal, and inclusive professional association. The NAIFA e-book also gives an understandable and moving description of how we can address unconscious bias and microaggressions, the disparity and opportunity in the current climate, and why our industry needs more African American females in its professional positions. Upon reflection, we can readily see how these actions underscore the spirit of both the NAIFA Preamble and the NAIFA Code of Ethics.
We can say, then, that our commitment to ethical financial practice has made an engaged step of affirmation to insure we are providing our financial products and services to all persons within the span of local, state, and federal levels. This means serving all persons who live and work within market reach of our membership irrespective of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, academic, and professional backgrounds. Diane Boyle has stated this commitment well: “NAIFA members serve diverse communities across the United States and our association is committed to advocating for policies that ensure everyone has access to the products, services, and advice that contributes to financial security” (Advisor Today, Fall/Winter 2021, p. 22).
An Active View for the Future
The year 2022 brings us through two complete years of dealing with COVID-19. Much of our difficulty has come through finding means to keep regular communication with clients while avoiding getting the virus. Personal visits have become almost impossible, and we have fortunately had access to virtual consultations, that enabled both current communication as decisions and implementation as needed. While virtual communication has been a great benefit, I think most agents and financial advisors would agree that in person meetings are better. In 2022, hopefully we will have more personal opportunities, which may well allow more enjoyable, meaningful interaction with those we seek to serve. As the year changes, may we each continue to be directed by NAIFA Code of Ethics, Preamble, and Obligations!
Frank C. Bearden, PhD, MSM, CLU, ChFC, is Managing Member at Frank C. Bearden LLC, author of "The Subtle Influence: Conflicts of Interest in Financial Planning", and a contributing columnist for Advisor Today on the topic of ethics.