As a high-earning, entrepreneurial-minded African American, Nicole Garner Scott has made it her mission to educate her community in financial literacy.
Through her financial coaching firm Amount Financial Services, Scott has been able to expose African American working-class people and business owners to useful tactics concerning money management and wealth accumulation.
With Atlanta possessing the second highest population of African Americans—more than two million—in the country and the highest percentage of Black-owned businesses, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, Scott said it is ever more important that the people who are the driving economic force for this city acquire some sense of financial literacy.
“Atlanta is a microcosm of its own,” Scott explained. “The way that African Americans are progressing in Atlanta, I’m not sure there are many other places in the country where you can find that.”
“The way that people want to support and better themselves, and also spread that knowledge and work together is very unique in the city of Atlanta,” she added.
Before creating Amount Financial Services, Scott was an entrepreneur and business coach, teaching people how to create successful businesses with the knowledge that she acquired from running her public relations firm, The Garner Circle.
“As I was doing a lot of business coaching, I started to get a lot of calls from a lot of my clients in regards to, outside of them just trying to figure out business, businesses were just falling apart,” Scott said. “They were losing houses, they were getting evicted out of their retail stores and their boutiques.”
“As we were talking, it wasn’t that they didn’t have enough marketing, or enough (public relations), or enough Instagram likes, it was because they didn’t understand how to manage their money; not even on a personal level,” she continued.
While there are a lot of financial services companies, Scott’s is unique in the sense that it tailors its knowledge to how African Americans relate to money and their everyday lives.
“When you listen to some of the nationally known financial enthusiasts such as Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, a lot of times that cultural connection is not included in the advice or solutions that are being provided,” Scott said.
“I had the opportunity to go to a conference a few years ago and one of the young women stood up and was talking about how her family is constantly asking her for money. Suze Orman was like, ‘Just cut your mother off, just don’t answer her calls anymore.’ And I was sitting there looking like, ‘in the Black community we don’t just cut mom off.’”
For Scott, that was just one of the many examples of cultural insensitivity in the space of finance, and how not addressing the cultural aspect of how African Americans relate to money does them a great disservice.
In 2018, Christopher Campbell, field director at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management wrote an article on behalf of Technology Associate of Georiga (TAG) relating to his industry and his demographic.
Campbell said the article was a challenge to other financial advisors and wealth managers to provide more diverse ways to relate the information that they were providing their minority clients.
“Unlike my counterparts, I can’t just come into my office with a client, who might be a minority, and start talking about how I need to de-risk their portfolio about 10-15 percent because I’m trying to get this alpha, because the standard deviation is too high and based off their returns we’re not going to hit goal,” Campbell said.
“You have to start with the basics and educate so people feel comfortable. Many minorities just didn’t grow up with a wealth blueprint so it’s going to be new for us.”
Scott said she also identifies with the notion that many minorities did not grow up learning about financial literacy.
“I come from very humble beginnings,” Scott said. “I didn’t grow up having a lot of the money conversations. My parents did a great job teaching me the extent of what they knew but we didn’t necessarily have those high-level conversations.”
“When I was in college I had to the opportunity to start being around very wealthy individuals. Good friends, traveling back to their homes on holiday breaks and things of that nature. The conversation was just so massively different in their homes, discussing wills and trusts.”
Scott says that those types of conversations were anything close to the ones that would take place with her friends or in her community; they weren’t a regular thing with people who looked like her.
“As I continued, I had some great mentors around who have taken my wealth knowledge to a whole new height,” Scott said.
Scott’s experience with money, and the conversations surrounding it, is similar to what a lot of African Americans go through
“The majority of minorities come from some sort of a struggle,” said Campbell. “My personal situation, my father died before I was born. Mom never graduated from high school. A lot of us are first-generation college students, first-generation having salary jobs or businesses, first-generation buying a home.”
“I’m 34-years-old. I’m in what’s called the millennial generation and in the millennial world we have this term called ‘adulting.’ My definition for adulting is ‘unlearning misinformation.’ It’s going to take a total mind shift change to get to the next level and understand what we need to be doing regarding our finances.”
In honor of April being National Financial History Month, Scott has put together her Coinfidence Conference in Atlanta, taking place April 12-13, which seeks to empower people with knowledge from some of the best financial advisors, analysts, and money professionals for better finance management.
“The reason that I decided to form this conference was because I felt like a lot of people in our space and in our community just really want to do better with their finances,” Scott said.
“I just wanted to bring together a plethora of speakers and educators in the finance space just from all across the nation that can really hone in on areas that we can create wealth in and that we really need to focus in on to be able to create that generation legacy and uplift what we’re trying to do.”
Speakers at the Coinfidence Conference include Sonia Booker , award-winning wealth-building expert, Dr. Jewel Tankard, Bravo TV’s ‘Thicker Than Water’ and Millionairess Club, Ian Dunlap, Red Panda Investing & CNN Money Expert; Suresh May, Wealth Weekly Media; Xavier Peoples, Capitol Group; Shaunell Kennard, Kennard Real Estate; and more.
Scotts says that there will also be some interesting financial tech partners including Charlie Finance, Digit, and Stash; all of which are money management and investment apps that people can download onto their phones.
The Coinfidence Conference takes place on April 12-13, at The Vault, 140 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30303.