What doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you.
In this moment in time our country is being challenged by a global pandemic, rising civil unrest, and a historically intense election season; but within every challenge lies the seeds of opportunity. It’s an opportunity to learn from our past, increase our consciousness of the present, and to exercise our collective power to influence the future. The challenges we’re facing involve social justice, as well as economic well-being, and we have a heightened awareness and responsibility to address these issues of human equality, especially as they relate to your financial future.
We believe that financial institutions and practices like ours should be part of the solution. That is why we strive to guide successful business owners and professionals from historically marginalized and under-served communities toward lifelong and inter-generational financial well-being. In doing so, we seek to partner together with our clients to overcome cyclical poverty and develop sustainable generational wealth, one family at a time.
How does social justice and finance intersect?
Our society has been shaped by institutions that at times have not served all people equally. When people within our communities are unjustly denied access to healthcare, education, fair levels of income, home ownership, and access to capital, we all miss out on opportunities for economic growth. Closing the race and gender-based wealth gaps are critical to the financial well-being of not only you as an individual, but to our country as a whole.
"Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination..."
Additionally, we recognize that those who need financial education the most, tend to have the least access to it. In some cases, we are unintentionally contributing to the problem by avoiding conversations around money within our own families, and much less within our communities. This lack of financial education disproportionately impacts people of color. By making financial education for the next generation a priority from an early age, we start to close race and gender-based wealth gaps, and we give them the tools and opportunities they need to enjoy building wealth for themselves.
Generational Wealth & Poverty
We all come from different backgrounds, not of our own choosing, and we’re certainly not all placed on a level playing field.
Picture this: A woman born into generational poverty may experience lower emphasis on financial education, as she instead will need to focus on basic survival needs and short-term solutions. Income restraints also impact her access to even the most routine health care and education, which in turn reduce her likelihood of going to college. If she does go to college, she will likely need to take on student loans. After graduating she will earn less, have even less discretionary income due to the added expense of paying off her student loans, may have to rely more on credit cards, and faces a higher risk of defaulting on her loans, damaging her credit, and leaving her more vulnerable to predatory financial practices. These factors combined will significantly impact her ability to save enough for a safety net, much less grow and accumulate wealth for her future, ultimately leaving less to the next generation.
Incarceration can also perpetuate the cycle of poverty. People of color experience disproportionate negative impacts related to the legal system. Those who have been incarcerated face higher rates of unemployment and homelessness, creating financial barriers and hurdles in community integration.
Thus, the cycle of poverty continues, as does injustice. In the reality millions of people are facing, we see how social justice and financial well-being are tightly intertwined especially in black, indigenous, other communities of color.
"My Mom and Dad were the 1st generation in their families born in the United States. They grew up in poverty and were discouraged from speaking Spanish due to the discrimination they experienced. My parents never went to college, but my Dad was a hard working blue collar iron worker, with the determination and courage to pursue something better for his family's future, and he was able to start a small construction company.
My Mom and Dad succeeded in breaking our family free from the poverty cycle. They were the “seed generation”, but like most parents, they almost never spoke to us (their kids) about business or money - thinking of it as taboo, too private, and a weight they would prefer their loved ones not have to carry.
They had good intentions, however, generations of systemic distrust, a deficit in financial literacy, and not wanting to burden children with financial concerns, creates barriers to passing on financial wisdom and also to accessing the type of quality financial advice that can guide a family toward creating lifelong and inter-generational financial well-being." - Roberto
"As a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, my family and I struggled to get established financially for the first 10 years of our lives here in the U.S. I started working at 15 years old to help with our bills. It’s hard to even think about becoming financially literate when you’re just trying to scrape by. Even after starting my career as a Respiratory Therapist and my parents were more financially stable, I still didn’t know how to manage my money. It’s not something I learned from home and definitely not something that was ever taught in the public-school system. I am fortunate enough to have married a financial advisor who has educated me and is my partner in navigating through our financial lives responsibly. Now more than ever, I truly believe that the next generations to come need financial literacy available to them in the school systems and curricular activities.” - Hani
“My dad was in finance all of my life. I remember being about 5 years old when he started teaching me how to read the Wall Street Journal and ticker symbols. When “Black Monday”, the big stock market crash of 1987 happened, my dad taught me the concept of “staying the course.” When you panic, you make mistakes. It was a good life lesson for my financial life and beyond.” - Ana
“The Great Recession was caused largely due to many predatory lending practices to under privileged communities like Hispanic/immigrant communities. My family was one of many families that were affected by this because my parents did not know what they were signing! Ever since 2008, I have done my best to educate my parents on how the American financial system works, and I have done my best to share the same knowledge with my extended family and friends. If I can help one family avoid what my parents went through, then all the long hours I’ve spent learning financial concepts will have been well spent.” - Edgar
“While some financial topics were introduced to me in my early teenage years, it was all very vague. My parents would tell me to open credit cards to build credit, but didn’t explain interest rates, fees, or the dangers of misuse. At times it felt like I was given only a few pieces of a very large puzzle. Now that I’m older, I really try to understand financial concepts or ask for help so that I can teach my younger sister and family members good financial habits!” - Mariah
What is Odyssey Wealth Design doing?
There’s long been a need for action, and financial practices like ours are uniquely positioned to do so. While there is no single solution to solve racial and socioeconomic inequities, here’s how we’re working to make a difference:
- Supporting organizations like The Finance Lab (of which Roberto sits on the board), who works to fight poverty and build inclusive financial communities in low-income high schools. From balancing checking accounts to filing taxes and funding college, their students are given practical opportunities to learn from mistakes and overcome challenges.
- Offering Inter-generational Planning Meetings to deliver solutions to meet multi-generational wealth objectives
- Hosting Financial Literacy & Planning Sessions with our clients’ children high school & college graduates
Socially Conscious Investing
- Sending resources like “The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance” book by Elisabeth Lariviere and Michele Cagan to our clients’ high school & college graduates
- Roberto and Ana participate as speakers/mentors in Project Inspire, a group whose focus is to:
• Inspire and educate BIPOC and Women to pursue careers in financial services
• Increase their knowledge of financial terms, lingo, and overall financial literacy
• Develop and refine their professional skills to prepare them for the workforce
• Connect them to mentors and other resources that will propel them forward and expand their network
We believe that consciously investing our time and money to support inclusion, and diversity of experiences, perspectives, and talents, makes our communities stronger and our economies more prosperous!
As Simon Sinek says in his book, The Infinite Game, “it is the just cause we are working to advance that gives our work and our lives meaning…it is an infinite pursuit that offers us, in clear terms, an affirmative and tangible vision of the ideal future we imagine…the house we hope to build.”