Dionne Blanks, AFC® specializes in helping her clients crush debt, increase savings, and build wealth through good management skills and an effective money mindset. She accomplishes this by working with her clients to establish customized cash flow plans for their household.

AFCPE: What inspired you to pursue a career in personal finance?

Dionne: I’ve always been intrigued by personal finance and how money provides options that may not be available otherwise, such as starting a business, becoming an investor, traveling, or just being able to choose a safe neighborhood for your family. Making that connection early in life influenced my decision to choose Finance as my major in college and begin my career in the field of Financial Services, specifically Institutional Trust and Wealth Management. I worked for over a decade in Accounting, Trust and Operations, and the focus was always on wealthy, high net worth clientele. I thoroughly enjoyed my role and being able to assist that clientele, but there was clearly a lack of support and guidance for those low to middle income individuals who desired assistance with basic money management skills and who needed guidance regarding asset accumulation and wealth building. This epiphany influenced me to step out of my role in Wealth Management and pursue the ACFPE AFC designation. My focus now includes low/moderate, as well as high, income earners who desire a more focused approach to money management.

AFCPE: You currently work with Grid 202 Partners, an all-black wealth management firm that “aims to build relationships with people who probably hadn’t thought they could afford or could use a financial planner, while also steering dollars toward investments that will benefit black and brown neighborhoods.” Tell us more about the mission of your organization and the work being done to help close the racial wealth gap.

Dionne: The mission of Grid 202 Partners is what drew me to this specific wealth management firm. The focus on empowering black and brown individuals with the knowledge, guidance, and tools needed to increase their net worth is a powerful commitment. With statistics citing that the median net worth of Black Americans may fall to zero by 2053, Grid 202 Partners addresses these concerns directly by providing highly qualified Financial Planners and Professionals committed to growing wealth in black and brown communities while providing investment opportunities that complement those efforts.

In addition to closing the racial wealth gap, Keith Beverly, the founder of Grid 202 Partners, is committed to increasing the number of African American Certified Financial Planners. The firm’s endeavors include scholarships for qualified applicants who are interested in becoming a Certified Financial Planner, as well as mentorship opportunities for those recipients. The firm’s commitment to increasing diversity in the field of financial planning includes speaking engagements at colleges and universities to encourage students to consider the field and provide these much-needed financial services.

AFCPE: Your firm also recognizes the value of having an AFC on staff to help reach those who may not be ready to invest, and them get to a point where they can! What can other wealth management firms learn from this model of financial services?

Dionne: This model of financial services is unique because it allows Grid 202 Partners to meet clients where they are in the wealth building process. This gives clients who are not yet ready to invest the opportunity to grow with, and build a relationship with, the firm. The model of including an Accredited Financial Counselor reflects the commitment and focus of this wealth management firm. This model is also a very creative way to establish loyalty from those same clients. When those established financial coaching and counseling clients are ready for financial planning and advisory services, they will be able to stay in-house. They will be seamlessly guided to an appropriate Advisor or Certified Financial Planner within the firm who will be qualified and ready to assist with their financial planning needs.

AFCPE: What’s next for you? What’s got you most excited – whether it’s in work or life?

Dionne: I’m excited about life! Being a wife and mom, first and foremost, and then being able to pour into the lives of other individuals is a blessing.  I am excited to continue to grow in this industry and walk with my clients along their wealth building journey.

Dionne Answers the Friday 5:

  1. My Why: My commitment to improving the financial lives of under-served populations and communities and to provide financial guidance for wealth builders.
  2. My Favorite Quote: “We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within”. – Earl Nightingale
  3. My Hero: Ermias Asghedom. He led by example in regards to business ownership, investing, and community development. He was a strong example to many on how to use your talent to produce income and then use that income to produce generational wealth.  Ermias Asghedom was able to use his influence to reach a population that may never have been introduced to these financial concepts otherwise.
  4. My Favorite Personal Finance Resource: Books and my fellow Financial Professionals.
  5. My Best Advice:
    • For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Be patient with yourself, and understand that even baby steps count as long as they are moving you towards your financial goals.
    • For a new professional entering the field: Understand “Why” you want to become a Financial Professional, who you can best serve, and how you wish to serve them. Always keep this understanding in front of you during the challenging days to help you push through.

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