Updated Jan. 21, 2021: Lazetta Rainey Braxton is a certified financial planner and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners, which launched one year ago. Her co-CEO is fellow certified financial planner Rianka Dorsainvil. We spoke with Braxton about financial planning for underrepresented communities, the importance of seeking professional financial advice and how diversity drives financial growth.
Want alerts about our Pro Tip profiles? Sign up for our Easy Money newsletter, sent to your inbox each Friday.
This interview has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
What advice do you have for people who may feel financially unsettled?
If you’re feeling unsteady, what things can make you feel more financially confident? One of the things that worked out well for people in 2020 is having a degree of savings because we couldn’t travel or eat out as much as we typically do. Capturing that savings can feel like a safety net if something happens to the market, with the virus or job loss. The question you should ask yourself is, how much do you have in reserves to make you feel confident? We usually like to see six months. If that's not the case for you, find what is and pivot accordingly.
It’s also important to consider your mental and physical health. Taking care of both will help you with financial decisions because you'll feel more clear and confident about your overall decisions and health.
You started the hashtag #DoingTheWork to encourage systematic changes within the financial space. Why is that important?
When we talk about doing the work, we’re talking about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. It's really humans that are making a decision whether or not they want to engage in that spectrum. Doing the work is also a straightforward way of saying you're going to have to be uncomfortable making these changes because nothing comes easy. It's very important to know what your core values are and make sure they're in alignment with the financial firm that you're working with.
How can that boost financial confidence for underrepresented communities?
By the year 2050, the Census Bureau is saying that the U.S. is going to be a racial mosaic. We also know that wealth is going to transfer along with it because you’re seeing more multi-racial relationships. We have to look at this as something that's happening now, not decades in the future. But if you do want to look at this and decades in the future as financial planners and investments then, as we say in the business, “the earlier you start, the better return you’ll get.”
Our firm is called 2050 Wealth Partners intentionally because we are leaning into the changing demographics, racial diversity and racial mosaic. We’ve seen over and over again that in terms of the bottom line, diversity propels growth, innovation and opportunity. We're stunting growth by saying diversity doesn't matter. We all are about growth and being paid well — and that’s possible.
You also have the tag line 'financial planning for the rest of us.' What keeps 'the rest of us' from seeking financial planning?
I've worked with high net worth individuals and we all have the same challenges with our money. Just because you have a lot of it doesn't mean that it is infinite. Money is not infinite — you have to manage it right. That’s where finding the right expertise comes in. Most of us didn't have financial education, even if you have an advanced degree. The rest of us, the 99% of us, have wondered, how can we get this advice? We’ve changed the business model to lean into what people already have and make the most out of it.
What advice would you give someone to help them take the plunge and seek a financial planner?
Having us with you along the way ensures support when it comes to making the right financial decisions for you. Many people lose money when they don't make engaged, informed decisions because they don't have all the tools and expertise to do that.
What’s the biggest money mistake you see other people make?
If you don't have a good relationship with money, like with anything, you can abuse it. If you are not clear about who you are, where you want to be, money is an easy way to let out unhealthy behaviors and do things that really don't align with who you are.
What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
It’s important to measure risk and be clear about what your lifestyle looks like. There are some people, take the starving artist for example, that are willing to live in cars or in someone else’s room. But if you’re married, your spouse might not want the same things. You have to be aligned as a couple if you are an entrepreneur. Set clear boundaries in terms of what your time, energy, money and other resources means to you.
What’s your current money goal & how are you working toward it?
I have tons of money goals. We have a daughter that's 15 and she's going to college in a couple of years. We’re looking at any shortfalls and considering where she wants to go. As a Gen-Xer, I would love to retire comfortably. I’m asking myself if I’m putting enough away and what that means for my business. I have to consider what gets reinvested in the business and what I put toward our household goals. I’m also interested in putting out another business. I also want a larger travel fund for when we can travel again — and I’ll need a reasonable budget for that.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
The best financial advice and move my husband and I made was living off of one income when we got married 23 years ago. I had student loan and credit card debt and we decided we would make a debt plan and knock it all out within four years. We adjusted our lifestyle quarterly and were still able to travel through miles and points. Accomplishing that is a core reason why we’re able to do the entrepreneurial ventures we’re doing.
Image: Nastia Kobzarenko
This post has been updated to reflect the correct date of the founding of 2050 Wealth Partners. It was Jan. 2020, not March 2021.