It has been quite the year. Zenith has advanced its mission to address wealth injustice by delivering high quality financial advice and investments. It is easy to find motivation in the growing ways that wealth inequality prohibits a just society.
Over the past year, our footprint has grown across our different audience channels including individuals, families, organizations, and students. Our investment assets under management have grown by 7X since one year ago, our total revenue has grown north of 10X since one year ago, and we are serving nearly 3X the number of clients as compared to this time last year. Our growth is powered by two main drivers: client success, which we can define simply as a positive financial outcome for a client, and our team’s size and effectiveness. Congratulations to Chelsea Ransom-Cooper, CFP on her 1 year anniversary today with Zenith!
While I am humbled by the growth of our client base, their net worths, and the Zenith team, I know we have much more to accomplish. I continue to find motivation to grow from the rapid acceleration of wealth inequalities that the pandemic has exacerbated this past year (FED, American Progress). Our solutions can directly address these issues and will continue to improve if we focus on our client satisfaction, team growth, and investment process.
Client success is at the heart of everything we do. We deliver discretionary investment management and financial planning services to individuals, families, business owners, and organizations. We also advise other investment advisory firms in financial planning and impact investing. Our client base chooses to work with us because of our flexible, customized approach to helping clients define their objectives, needs, and desired impact to formulate accessible advice and action steps. Each client is different. One of the most important lessons learned this past year is effectively recognizing these differences. A young professional who needs advice on their financial decision-making requires a much different advisory experience than an organization providing programming and funds to Black communities with a multi-million dollar budget. While both are within our mission and capability to serve, we must continue to add efficiency to our internal workflows and feedback loops to serve both effectively.
Delivering optimal outcomes for clients is rooted in equitable practices. We incorporate gender and racial equity into our hiring and recruiting practices, thought leadership, and investment processes. We are deliberate about recruiting, hiring, and providing opportunities to people of color and women. About 18% of financial advisors are women, while only 5% of all advisors identify as Black. A majority of our clients identify as Black and Women, or organizations dedicated to Black and Women communities. It is vital that our clients receive accessible, relatable advice from our team. Due to the systemic nature of racial and gendered wealth injustices, we find it essential to have shared identities and experiences as our clients. In our internship program this summer, our students identified as either persons of color or women. We are committed to empowering the next generation of Black and Woman financial advisors through our future hires and growth of our internship program. Our capacity to create more jobs and internships hinges on our ability to drive client success and increase our firm’s assets under management.
We also feel a responsibility to educate the marketplace on how racial and gender equity can create a better future, particularly through investments and planning. Our reach has grown since inception and we have over 220,000 followers across our social media platforms, which we leverage to advance the mission of our partners and company. For example, we recently published an essay across our platforms that argues the benefits of investing in companies and funds run by Women titled, “Investing in Women’s Leadership”.
Assets under management and investment returns are a critical variable in our future growth and mission potential. Scale through assets will be important to create change through investing plus build a large team within Zenith. Social impact is core to our organizational principles and we believe that positive social impact will create optimal investment outcomes, which is why we participate in multiple collaborations for social impact investing. Our investment process is characterized by the P.E.A.K. evaluation, which is unique to Zenith and examines the following components of each potential investment:
- Profitability – both financially and socially
- Expectations for the future
- Accountability to justice, equity, customers, and stakeholders
- Key performance indicator definition
Our process is ever-improving. We have recently added capabilities to our investment process with technologies like Morningstar, Altruist, and some other sources of third party research information from other advisory firms like Permit Capital Advisors, Helios Driven, and EIA All Weather Alpha Partners. We are excited as to what’s to come in our investment platform.
Thank you to all of our clients, team-members, collaborators, and stakeholders for an outstanding year. We’re excited for the year ahead and the long-term journey to address wealth inequality by delivering high quality investments and advice.