Trends with Benefits Trends with Benefits #3: Tyrone Ross on Fostering Financial Literacy

  • Ed Lopez
    Ed Lopez
    Head of ETF Product

Financial illiteracy is an epidemic that afflicts many segments of our society. An InvestmentNews article highlighted a handful of different studies on the topic. Among its revelations was that the financial literacy level in the U.S. was only 57% and that financial literacy has actually declined.This is a scary thought when most Americans are being asked to take responsibility for their own retirement planning. It’s worse among the poorest of our society, where many don’t even have a bank account or trust the financial industry. This is the industry’s challenge and opportunity.

Changing an Industry

One person taking up that challenge and making it his mission is Tyrone Ross. I caught up with him at the Inside ETFs conference in January 2020. He is a financial consultant, early-stage start-up advisor entrepreneur and a 2004 Olympic Trials qualifier in track and field in the 400 meters. He was recognized by InvestmentNews 40 under 40 (2019), and WealthManagement.com as a top ten advisor set to change the industry in 2019. While great accolades, he dismisses them. He’s on a more important mission.

If you haven’t been to the conference before it’s the largest conference for the exchange-traded fund industry with over 2,000 attendees and held at a beautiful resort on the beach in Hollywood, Florida. Hollywood is in Broward County, where Tyrone told me 20% of the children population live in poverty. So, it’s a striking paradox to think of the billions of dollars under management represented by financial professionals attending the conference in an area where so many live below the poverty level. Many at this socioeconomic level don’t know basic financial concepts much less what a stock is. Worse, as Tyrone explained is the mindset of ‘scarcity’ that prevents people from engaging with the banking system even to improve their own situation.

Tyrone knows this situation well. He’s lived it. So while he takes it as his personal responsibility and mission to help these communities, he believes the financial industry can help lead the change to improve financial literacy and in the process help it become the “most beloved industry”.

There is so much about our discussion I found inspiring. Listen for thoughts on the power of giving and how he stays positive. Also, his one big trend to watch is how financial advisors will be forced to change the way they run their practices.

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