By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
MarketWatch photo illustration/Troy Prince, iStockphoto
Throughout Troy Prince’s 30-year finance career, which has included stints at Salomon Brothers and Wells Fargo and spanned several continents, he has been haunted by the fact that he would see so few faces that looked like his. When he asked his employers why, he said, they always responded, “We can’t find them.”
That never made sense to Prince, 49, who wants to help aspiring minority traders realize their dreams of working on Wall Street. The nonprofit he founded, Wall Street Bound , aims to provide access to financial-services careers for urban youth, targeting ethnic minorities largely between the ages of 18 and 24 who often coincide with more marginalized or low-income populations.
There is no shortage of research that demonstrates how far diversity in the finance world still has to go. Just four Fortune 500 CEOs are Black, Fortune reported in July; Roger Ferguson, the head of the financial-services company TIAA, is the lone Wall Street representative. A McKinsey study released in May found that minorities represented just 13% of U.S. and U.K. executive teams in large companies in 2019, an uptick from 7% in 2014.
An analysis of the 44 biggest U.S. banks released in February by the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services found that “although the workforce diversity demographics of the nation’s largest banks appear to align with the composition of the U.S. labor force, bank workforce diversity is more visible in entry-level rather than executive and senior-level positions.” More recently, Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC +1.21% CEO Charles Scharf came under fire for remarking at a meeting over the summer that there is a lack of qualified minority candidates to meet the bank’s diversity goals.
Prince caught the trading bug from a stock-picking contest in high school, started making cold calls for a retail broker at Shearson Lehman Brothers at 17, then spent two years working for Salomon Brothers while attending New York University’s Stern School of Business. He graduated at 20, spending the next three decades as far away as Vietnam and as close as Wall Street.
“I grew up in the Bronx, exactly 11.2 miles from the New York Stock Exchange. How is the greatest economic engine mankind has ever known 11.2 miles from the poorest congressional district in America?” the founder and CEO of Wall Street Bound told MarketWatch in an interview conducted in late July and in subsequent emails. “When I moved back last year, it was just clear to me things haven’t gotten any better.”
Even in these difficult pandemic times, Prince has been making strides. The past summer he hosted a successful virtual mini-boot camp, which drew appearances by billionaire investor Leon Cooperman and Mario Gabelli, the founder and CEO of GAMCO Investments, fellow Bronx natives.
Wall Street Bound has also partnered with the proprietary trading firm Maverick Trading , which will eventually allow graduates of the nonprofit’s Diverse Trader Training Program to trade the firm’s capital and keep between 70% and 80% of profits. The program, which will be virtual, will provide qualified candidates with preparation for front-office careers in finance, a technical knowledge base, live trading experience, mentorship and, importantly, an introduction to a network of employers looking to diversify their workplaces.
The school will launch as soon as he has the necessary funds. Here is more from MarketWatch’s interview with Prince, which is the latest installment of The Value Gap:
MarketWatch: What is Wall Street Bound all about?
Prince: Our motto is “Creating a path to Wall Street for urban youths.” The idea that ... it doesn’t happen on its own, and it’s a two-sided endeavor. One, it’s a community that’s not typically exposed to these careers to the markets. The other side ... schools that largely serve the Black and brown populations are not top recruiting schools for Wall Street, so there’s a mismatch there.
MarketWatch: How has fundraising progressed from when you began in April 2019, through the Black Lives Matter movement and protests, and the pandemic?