Modeling a Culture of Inclusion

A Conversation from the C-Suite with Penny Pennington, Suzanne Shank and Rudy Rodriguez

How can business leaders foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion from the c-suite? What impact can that have on their employees and their workforce? How does a diverse and inclusive culture help organizations better serve their clients?

These questions and more were topics of discussion at SIFMA’s recent Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Summit. In this edition of SIFMA’s DEI podcast series, we bring you a particularly powerful fireside chat with two leading executives: Penny Pennington, Managing Partner of Edward Jones, and Suzanne Shank, President and CEO of Siebert, Williams, Shank & Co. Moderated by Rudy Rodriguez, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Ameriprise and Chair of SIFMA’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, this far-reaching discussion explores how these leaders model a culture of inclusion from the c-suite.

For more information on fostering and expanding workforce, client, and supplier diversity equity and inclusion, please visit www.sifma.org/diversity.

Transcript

Edited for clarity

Amena Ross:

Welcome to The SIFMA Podcast. I’m Amena Ross, Managing Director of Advocacy at SIFMA and host of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion podcast series.

Recently, SIFMA hosted our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Summit. We brought together hundreds of business executives from across the financial industry who shared a common and genuine goal: to broadly understand how, as leaders at their organizations, they can foster a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion to the benefit of their employees and clients.

Our conversations were powerful and wide-ranging. In a safe forum for tough questions, we heard from regulators, policymakers, chief economists and industry leaders about best practices and innovative solutions that are having a real impact on the industry and the communities we serve.

Today, we are pleased to share one of those conversations. Rudy Rodriguez, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Ameriprise and Chair of SIFMA’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, hosted a fireside chat with two leading female executives: Penny Pennington, Managing Partner of Edward Jones, and Suzanne Shank, President and CEO of Siebert, Williams, Shank & Co.

As managing partner, the sixth in Edward Jones’s 97-year history, Penny is responsible for the firm’s strategic direction, working together with the more than 43,000 associates across the U.S. and Canada who make a meaningful difference in the lives of more than 7 million clients by helping them financially achieve their most important goals. A 30+ year veteran of the financial services industry, Suzanne has positioned her firm to hold the distinction of being the top-ranked minority- and woman-owned investment banking firm in the country.

Now, I invite you to sit back, listen, and find out how these industry leaders set and reach their diversity goals while modeling a culture of inclusion from the C-suite.

Rudy Rodriguez: Hello everyone and welcome to a conversation with managing partner of Edward Jones Penny Pennington and the President and CEO of CBRE Williams and shank company Suzanne shank, and myself vice president of diversity inclusion at Ameriprise 3d Rodriguez. Thank you all for joining us and thank you to our sponsors for their support in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Summit.

I’m really excited about our conversation today. Building a diverse and inclusive workplace requires a strong leadership commitment. Our fireside chat today with two leading executives in the industry is going to focus on why diversity inclusion are important for our companies, and how they model a culture of inclusion from the C-suite and how leaders can set and reach their diversity goals. I’m really excited to hear their remarks and comments.

But first, let’s do introductions. I’ll kick us off and invite Penny and Suzanne to tell us a little bit about themselves so we can get to know each other a little bit better. So again, I’ll start – Rudy Rodriguez, my pronouns are he him and his and I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion. I’m the son of Mexican immigrants and through that experience, I have a strong cultural curiosity that I like to explore in work in the community. I’m proud to lead the diversity efforts at Ameriprise and also engage as a board chair for the immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. I’m on the Board of Trustees for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities where I chair the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. And lastly, and not least, I’m really happy to partner with my SIFMA colleagues to advance our DEI efforts for the financial services industry. Penny, I’ll hand it over to you. Ready?

Penny Pennington: Thank you. Hi, everybody. It’s great to be with you. I’m Penny Pennington and the managing partner of Edward Jones. We’re a private partnership. And so Managing Partner equates to CEO. I’m the sixth managing partner of our firm in 100 years – we celebrate our 100th anniversary next January.

We’re about the largest wealth management / financial services firm in our industry in terms of number of financial advisors – almost 20,000 financial advisors serving in the United States and Canada, across 15,000 branches. About $1 trillion 6 in assets under care. we’re privileged to serve 7 million clients. Little fun fact, and this might interweave with some of the conversation later in our time together, we have a brick-and-mortar location in 68% of the counties in the United States, and all 10 provinces in Canada. We have a client in every county but one in the United States. And so what does that mean for this conversation? It means that that we are in community with every part of our two countries. And living and working and serving beside more people in more communities is how we characterize the growth in the impact that we would like to have on lives and communities. It’s great to be here with you all.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Penny. Suzanne, how about you?

Suzanne Shank: Hi, I’m Suzanne Shank, and I’m a co-founder, president and CEO of Siebert William Shank. This is the third iteration of our firm. I’ve had different partners throughout the years, I’ve been the one constant. We were founded in 1996. I’m very proud of what the firm has accomplished over the years in terms of growth. We’ve grown from a muni bond shop to one that is now actively engaged in the taxable and tax-exempt markets, both primary and secondary, the equity markets, underwriting and share repurchase activities, we have a strategic advisory group… We are the top-ranked minority and woman-owned firm in both the corporate space and the municipal space. We also have a wholly-owned investment advisory platform we recently formed – Clear Vision Impact Fund, which I hope to speak further about.

I’m from the south. My birth certificate identifies my father as Negro laborer. I have been on the D&I journey my entire career and so I’m very pleased to be here today.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you so much, Suzanne. Thanks to both of you for those great introductions. Clearly, some great stories that we can hear about your experiences and your work in the community and at your firms.

I’ll start out with this first question. You know, the issues around diversity, equity inclusion have been important for a long time, but recently they’ve really become even more front and center for every organization. What commitments have your firms made to diversity, inclusion and equity? Suzanne, let’s start with you.

Suzanne Shank: Given our history, our long history, of being both minority-owned and majority women-owned and being certified as such, the D&I commitment has really been in our deep DNA, so to speak. As you can imagine, is not just the best practices chapter in a company handbook. We have a very diverse workforce: 57% people of color, 32% women, and I would say 100% working to better our communities. With this diverse footprint as a foundation, we’re constantly still striving to do better, though. And I would say that we try to do that with the various programs to create professional opportunities for women and minorities. And these may include internships, involvement, and mentorship, written procurement policies to foster relationships, and procurement with other minority women-owned and veteran firms, as well as diversity policies for hiring within the firm. So, we really haven’t had a shift in focus, as opposed to really doubling down on our efforts.

Now, of course, given the events of last year, we did some extra things. We initiated giving to certain organizations that we thought were directly addressing some of the racial justice initiatives and matching our own employee giving to those organizations. But, just as an example of our commitment, we’ve had three build-outs of our New York office space. And we have committed in each of those over the years to have majority minority construction firms, architects and engineers do the work on behalf of our firm. It really translates through everything we do, whether it’s IT, law firms, we hire, etc. so this has been front and center for our firm since our inception.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Suzanne. Penny, how about you? What kind of commitments has your firm made to diversity, equity inclusion?

Penny Pennington: Yeah, Suzanne, I love what you just said about DEI in the DNA. What I would share really sort of uses that as a springboard. Our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, to being a place of belonging is not new. And there has been a renewal of it. In the past year or two years, it’s not new. We’ve been, working toward making our firm and our representation in communities where we serve, more gender-balanced, more balanced toward to racial and experienced groups, just people coming from different walks of life, who can even more relate with clients and prospective clients, who are looking for a deep, trusted relationship with a guide to stand beside them, walk beside them during their lifetime.

This is not a new commitment but the renewal of that commitment came very much as a result of what we all experienced together last year, the last 15 months that I’ve called the triple pandemic: a pandemic of a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis.

Someone said to me… I said one time on a listening post, I said “we’re all in the same storm.” She said “Penny, we’re all in the same storm, but each of us is in a little bit different boat.” And so what the last 15 months has galvanized for us is the value of having so many more experiences and perspectives at the table, to make good decisions to recognize as empathetic leaders what it takes to bring a team together. And what it takes to build trust with a client when they’re going through a storm in the boat that they’re going through it with their families, and when our communities are going through different storms.

The renewed commitment that we made last year included things like a very public five-point commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in our organization, for our talent and in our communities. It included a commitment to talking, to courageous conversations. It included a commitment to pay parity. It included a commitment to reassessing our personnel policies, our hiring, training and development. And Suzanne, just as you mentioned, a renewal of commitment to giving in our communities to organizations that are important to our clients and our associates. Places like the Urban League nationally and here in St. Louis, our hometown, which has the largest and one of the oldest urban leagues in the country.

The renewal of that commitment also, though, extended to what’s the definition of good leadership, and empathetic leadership. Recognizing the skill, and the capacity to have conversations with our teams, with our clients and our prospective clients about the boats that they’re in so that we can create this place where everyone can bring themselves fully, authentically, completely, good days and bad days, to the job that we have to do – our purpose, which is to make a meaningful impact in the lives of our clients and our colleagues. So not new, but the renewal has added a new energy and enthusiasm and forward progress to this pursuit.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Penny, I appreciate the perspective on renewal. And certainly, we’ve all been focused on, and things have changed quite a bit, but I want to take us back a little bit in the perspective of how have you seen the diversity in the industry evolve, as well as how our firms work to address it, and the change that you’ve seen in the course of your career? What advice would you give to others, given all that change? Certainly, a lot has been happening over the past year or so. We’ve always had that commitment. But how have things changed over the course of your career? What insights do you have there, Penny?

Penny Pennington: No worries, I’ll kick off there. Well – and I’m so interested to hear what Suzanne has to say about this as well – I started in financial services and banking in 1985. I’ve been in an industry for a number of years where there hasn’t been as much gender balance, and certainly not ethnic or racial balance, and so have been part of that hunt, part of that cohort for my entire career. It’s interesting, if you just trace the language that we use around it. I remember when we simply talked about diversity. And then we started talking about inclusion – diversity isn’t enough, feeling included, knowing that one is included, this is critically important. And only in the past few years has it become more commonplace to recognize the difference between equality and equity.

And now, what we’re talking about as a firm, and it’s not just us, I hear this throughout our industry and in business in general, is creating a place of belonging, where people know that this is the place they should bring their full professional and personal capabilities in order to fulfill their own personal purpose and our purpose as a firm.

I have a former colleague, Emily Pitts, who some people in the audience may know. She described diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging this way: she said, diversity is about being asked to the party. Inclusion is about being asked to dance. Equity is you get to help pick the music. Belonging is you get to help determine what kind of party we’re having. And just the arc of that acumen, that facility with the language and what it means, has pointed us in the direction of much more authentic and capable pursuit of becoming more gender-balanced, more racial and ethnic balanced. Now, we still have a long way to go. Boy, isn’t that a common refrain? How many times do we say it, we still have a long way to go. But what I’m excited about is this sense of renewal, about that pursuit and the imperative of achieving more balance and in all of those respects.

Rudy Rodriguez: Yeah, thank you, Penny. I appreciate how you define diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging because I think that’s a best practice for firms because employees want to know what that means. And I really love that word belonging – we use it at Ameriprise too, because it’s that feeling that you get when you know that inclusion is happening. So thank you for that.

Suzanne, how about you over the course of your career? What strikes you most as the biggest differences between you while you were rising in the industry and today?

Suzanne Shank: Yeah, I started in the business just a couple of years after Penny – 1987 and began to explore what is the history of, you know, diversity on Wall Street and I read a book by Gregory Bell, whose father actually had the first black-owned member firm of the New York Stock Exchange. And it was quite interesting because it pointed out that many blacks on Wall Street got their start in the public finance space, because there were urban centers where local elected officials were more sensitive to inclusion. And so we began to see more minorities, both at bulge bracket firms and having their own firms in that sector. And then we began to see that spread into other sectors – we saw many people leave public finance and go on to corporates or asset management, and others started their own firms.

In the years after the financial crisis, I actually felt that we went backwards. When many firms were laying off, I felt that many women and minorities were, the firings, layoffs were in higher percentages among minorities and women. So, having observed that and seeing where we are today, after 33 years of being in the business, I am encouraged that this discussion is really front and center and something that every corporation, I don’t know, one that I’ve spoken to of late and I am sure if Penny would say the same, that is not focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What’s troubling about it for the financial services space is that the hiring at entry-level positions is actually not that bad. I’ve looked at studies by McKinsey and Lean In, and it shows that women and people of color are being hired at pretty good percentages – almost 50/50 – in the financial services space. But that movement up the corporate ladder is stifled, such that women and especially women of color, are underrepresented in the leadership of financial services firms. I was thrilled to be on this panel with Penny given her role and given the CEO of Citigroup now being a woman. I mean, I am thrilled for every one position we get. But this is an area we’re going to have to continue to be very intentional about. And what that means is the industry is going to have to look at pipeline of talent, make dramatic change. If we don’t see diverse candidates in that pipeline, we’re going to have to do a better job of ensuring bias and preconceived perceptions are not playing a role in advancement decisions. And it means sponsoring diverse candidates as they move up the corporate ladder, every opportunity I had for advancement, and I’m sure Penny would say the same, was the result of mentorship or sponsorship by a wide variety of individuals, both black, white, male and female. So it should really be viewed as a responsibility and a journey for all.

Rudy Rodriguez: Great, thank you. You clearly have a vision for how to drive this and we know that commitment for diversity, equity inclusion starts at the top. Suzanne, how do you take that passion and set the tone for inclusion in your own firm and how do you demonstrate that commitment both internally and externally? What advice would you give to other leaders in your shoes?

Suzanne Shank: Well, we have to keep the discussion at the front of every hiring decision. If I look at an area and I don’t see, we’re just so diverse. One of my partners says we look like the fabric of America because I think we have every racial group represented within the firm and we’re thrilled about that. We’re proud about that. And we do feel it’s a family. Obviously, we’re a much smaller shop than what Penny is running. But we’re in 19 offices across the country, we’re really spread out. We’re working in many different centers, we give back in those centers. I tell my team that I hope we’re the firm that can give the first exposure and first opportunity to the financial services space.

I didn’t grow up – my mom was a teacher and my dad was initially a bus driver. They both progressed in their career to have management positions, but I didn’t know anything about Wall Street almost until I went to Wharton Business School. That’s really a shame. And I think many young people of color are in that same boat. And it’s for that reason that I’ve started internship programs, I started many mentorship programs to give kids early access to those opportunities, as early as high school, that is not too early to, you know, really give a look see. And I’m just always proud. And I think our team is proud when we give those opportunities for students in college after their freshman year, which is so difficult to get. And then we see them go off, we don’t do a very good job of keeping track and getting them back after we help get them trained. But we know they’re all over Wall Street, because they got that first foot in the door. And you know, that’s all that’s needed. Because the talent is there. It’s just that the opportunity is not.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Penny, how are you setting the tone at your firm?

Penny Pennington: I’m going to amplify something that Suzanne just mentioned and that is just understanding that this industry is there for people. As clients, in our business, to get financial advice – we know that folks who were advised have on average 25% more assets than folks who don’t have a guide. I was a financial advisor for six years in Michigan before coming into our home office location. If I had a nickel for every time one of my clients said, either I wish I had understood these things sooner in my life, or could you talk to my kids? Let’s get them started right now. And so this idea that helping people understand, helping a wider group of talented folks with, as Suzanne said, all the gifts, skills and competencies in the world understand what this industry is, and that it is a helpmate in our society. It makes our society better to help more people have more options.

Now to your specific question about a leaders’ role then and how I see my role in the pursuit of a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and place of belonging kind of culture. Someone said to me a couple of years ago that that pursuit has got to be personal, interpersonal, and structural. And so I really think of my own portfolio of activities, my calendar, the things that I’m committed to, the places that people see me show up personally – am I learning? What am I reading? What am I seeking to understand that I didn’t understand before? About my experiences versus other people’s experiences. That’s a personal and reflective stance. The interpersonal part is being in conversation, in relationship with people in my firm, people in my community. We’re here in St. Louis, and there is a very active conversation in our community about greater racial equity and equitable economic growth and development. I’m learning and frankly, and being mentored by community participants, so that I know more about that opportunity and necessity.

Our great privilege as leaders is that we have a tremendous opportunity to impact the structural aspects of ensuring that our organizations are more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Those could be compensation initiatives, they could be hiring policies, they could be our, what we call our business resource groups, the affinity groups, and that the prevalence of those groups and how vibrant and robust they are, how we reward and set expectations for the leaders who are responsible to us. So I see that as a portfolio of opportunity for leaders to really affect change, but it’s got to start with us individually as well – personal, interpersonal, and structural.

Rudy Rodriguez: I love that framework. I’m going to borrow that, Penny, for sure.

Penny Pennington: I stole it, you steal it, too, Rudy. [laughter]

Rudy Rodriguez: Both of you commented on something that resonates with me too, just about how often we hear about many people in underserved communities and from my experience in the Latino community not knowing about careers and financial services, which gets me to the next point: how our firms can serve a more diverse client base. There are ongoing conversations that we’re all familiar with about the gap in wealth, investing in homeownership gaps and also the triple pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on particularly communities of color. These issues are all at the forefront. What can our firms do to serve more diverse clients, whether they be individual clients, small businesses or underserved communities more broadly? Penny, what is your firm doing in that space?

Penny Pennington: I’ll go back to something I mentioned before. And that’s the number of people that we talk to that say, I wish I’d known about these concepts earlier in my life, to have a guide to help me develop opportunities or optionality in my life that I didn’t know were there. And this would be for talented folks who come to work for Edward Jones, but our client base as well.

One thing that is critically important is financial literacy. Suzanne, you said it just a few minutes ago, high school is not too early to start. Right on. In fact, that is the place to start, isn’t it? We have a financial literacy program that we renewed last year. We’re in 140 schools right now. We’ve served 4,000 students; by the end of the year, we’ll be in 575 schools, serving 20,000 students. We’ve had 210,000 folks come onto our website to access these financial literacy tools. So just the basics of saving, spending, borrowing, investing, creating options in one’s life through the beginnings of a financial plan are so important to it. Helping act as that guide.

One of the things that really disappoints me about our industry is that maybe we haven’t done a very good job of creating a place of belonging for potential clients because we say the word “wealth management” and people say, well, I’m not wealthy, so maybe that doesn’t apply to me. People don’t think they deserve or could afford or will understand they’re intimidated by the words, the jargon, walking into a building to meet with a financial advisor. We have got to do a better job of breaking down those barriers.

I got a call from a financial advisor the other day. He said, Penny, I just got to tell you the story. I work with an individual who works in transportation. He’s never made more than about $50,000 a year in his entire life. And I just got to call him and congratulate him on crossing that sort of arbitrary number of a million dollars in his retirement account. Helping people recognize that steady, thoughtful planning with a guide can keep them on track, get them back on track. Suzanne, you mentioned that what’s happened in the past 15 months has had a disproportionate impact on women, on people of color and people who might have had the beginnings of a plan, that plan might have got derailed the past year. And so helping people get back on track, raising their confidence about the options they have for their future. That’s the role of financial advice, of a financial advisor.

Rudy Rodriguez: Great, thank you, Penny. Suzanne, how about you? How are how are you thinking about serving underserved communities or clients?

Suzanne Shank: Our firm is all institutionally focused, we don’t deal with retail clients. But we have several minority-owned asset managers to whom we sell our transactions to and give access to hot IPOs and other transactions in which we participate.

But another area that we really are excited about, we announced that last year in August with the support of Microsoft that we were going to form the Clear Vision Impact Fund. We started with $25 million investment from Microsoft. We have now raised and closed on the first round of over $110 million from also Apple, Comcast, Constellation Brands and eBay, such that Chris Williams and I are general partners and our limited partners are these stellar corporations who have their own DE&I initiatives.

We are investing in minority-owned businesses that operate in underserved communities. Lack of cash flow or capital has been cited as one of the most significant challenges for minority entrepreneurs and when we think about, as Penny mentioned, wealth and generating wealth among minority communities, ownership is really important for many, and the data shows that minority-owned firms based lending discrimination, and that, head to head, blacks and Latinos have to give more information than their white counterparts when they’re trying to get a loan. So, we formed this fund that will be – it’s a debt fund because we didn’t want to take equity away from minority owners – focusing more on black and Latinos in underserved communities or those that will employ many minorities and underserved communities, and provide mentorship to these companies. Chris and I are both entrepreneurs, these companies want to provide mentorship and connectivity. Some of them may need a vendor that they can’t find, they’re looking to increase their minority on firms with whom they contract. And so we’re really excited about making this connectivity between them, the corporations, and giving access to capital that they might not otherwise have. So we’re plotting forward towards raising the next round and getting to the next close, and are actively working on some very exciting transactions. We have term sheets out with several minority entrepreneurs that we hope to announce soon.

Rudy Rodriguez: Great, thank you, Suzanne, that’s a great example. You know, you’ve talked about a lot of the great initiatives that you have in place, but what are some of the challenges you face now and how have you addressed them? Maybe some of the work in progress? Penny, let’s start with you.

Penny Pennington: The work in progress is against that sense of renewal. One thing that I will add to that sense of renewal about this opportunity is that the value that we want to deliver to more clients – we have 7 million clients today, we have an addressable market of 40 million families in North America – the value that we want to deliver to those families means that we’ve got to have the best talent and we’ve got to have people who are attuned to needs and experiences that may be different than their own needs and experiences as they guide clients and as we make decisions about where we want to invest to create value for those clients.

The challenge, the opportunity, is a growth mindset. It’s that sense of leadership responsibility that says, as a leader, it is not my job to know all the answers. It is to be not a know-it-all, but to be a learn-it-all, and to have the capacity to seek to understand what it is that our clients most need. And frankly, seek to understand what they’re going to need proactively so we can get there first. And so the challenge is value creation. And the opportunity is working with a much more diverse cohort of talented folks at Edward Jones in order to create that value.

I think the secondary challenge then is to help people understand, as I said earlier, what this industry is all about. It’s not about math, it’s not about numbers. I’m going to use a really ugly word – it’s not about greed. It’s not about the things that have been associated with the finance or investment world for years and maybe inappropriately associated. It is about – it is a purpose-driven industry that really connects with the desire of professionals and individuals to have a professional pursuit that really matches their own values, and helps them achieve in their own lives things that are not only not just successful, but significant as well. And so telling the story and being a firm that represents that story, is another opportunity that we have.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Penny. Suzanne, how about you? What’s work in progress for your firm?

Suzanne Shank: I’m not sure it’s a work in progress. I think what I’ve learned in my career, I faced three major disruptions in my 30 plus years. First, it was Black Monday, only two months after starting on Wall Street. Then it was the financial crisis of 2008. And by then I was the head of then Siebert, Branford, Shank. And then the pandemic as CEO of a newly-merged company. So each time you know there was significant market dislocation for a period of time that created challenges for my firm, concern about the well-being of our employees – you know, would we make it? – and a need to pivot to ensure we would fare well despite these challenges.

I would say with the first one, I was fortunate to have been at a boutique firm that was able to take advantage of the inefficiencies in the markets to benefit our clients so we actually did pretty well. With the financial crisis, as many of the larger firms that had mortgage exposure were grappling with that and we didn’t, we took the risk of investing and growing our firm and doubled the size of the firm and hit the top 10 for the first time as a muni bond underwriter and we’re the first minority or woman-owned firm to do so. I think with the pandemic, we decided to amplify our connectivity with clients as the market was very unsettled, and shut down in certain sectors. We initiated bi-weekly town halls, we had experts from the American Federation of Teachers to talk to our clients and employees about whether their kids could still go to school, we had bond attorneys, we had economists, and I think that connectivity served us really well.

2020 ended up remarkably being one of our best years ever. We saw corporate bond issuance at record levels, we saw heightened sensitivity about hiring minority and women-owned firms. I’ve got to tell you, for many years, it wasn’t so popular to be a minority or woman-owned firm. I mean, we actually took it out of many proposals when we were pitching for business and just put in our capabilities, because it was almost used against us. It was refreshing that then companies were then seeking us out and hiring us at a much more rapid pace than in the past. So I would say, my lesson is that out of crisis can come opportunity, if you are well-positioned, and it’s important to be positioned, have that cushion, so that you can take advantage of those opportunities when they come.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Suzanne. I’m enjoying talking or listening to everything and I think we could go on for a while. But we need to wrap up so I’m going to have a last question and just a chance for closing remarks. Thinking about where are you hoping to be in by when, what is the change required to get there? So thinking about what’s next? What are the goals? Penny, I’ll start with you because I understand Edward Jones has recently announced some new diverse representation goals, tell us about where you’re headed, and any kind of closing comments you want to give the folks at SIFMA and in our industry.

Penny Pennington: Happy to. This goes in that realm of renewal – not new, but renewal. Our vision is to be a place of belonging for incredibly talented, purpose-driven people to serve our clients. And I said earlier that that constant refrain of we’re not where we should be or want to be.

So, we have we took that challenge on and we have made a public statement about where we would like to be by 2025 in terms of representation. And it has to do with what Suzanne mentioned earlier, and it’s those pipelines, it’s those pipelines of talent and getting incredibly talented people into our organization and through those pipelines. So for our home office leader of associate and leader of leader by 2025, we want to be at gender parity and 20% people of color. For our home office general partners, our senior-most leaders in the organization, by 2025 we want to be 40% women and 16% people of color. For our financial advisors by 2025, 30% women and 15% people of color. So you know, the scary part, I’ll just be perfectly open about putting those numbers out there is what if we don’t quite meet them? How is that going to feel? Well, it’s not going to feel great. But it doesn’t feel particularly great right now to be saying over and over again we’re not where we want to be. And so these kinds of commitments, these kinds of vision statements help us think differently. It helps us grow our mindset about the actions that we want to take. Our intention has always been there. The actions that we want to take, we want to take differential actions for differential results. And that’s the reason for making that kind of commitment.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you, Penny. Suzanne, how about you? Closing remarks? Where are you in the firm headed?

Suzanne Shank: I hope we’re headed for more growth. I think in terms of diversity and inclusion, we are probably where we want to be. I want to see us improve our numbers on women a bit, and I think we can easily do that given some recent hires we haven’t yet announced. I think we look to be a model firm on Wall Street in terms of diversity and inclusion that others will think, okay if they did it and they’re successful then we can do it too. We’re partnering with some of our clients on internship programs. We are talking to some very big players about, we will hire the students, we know how to do this. We know how to find diverse talent. They’ll work for us part of the summer and you a part of the summer, or they’ll work for us one summer and come to you the next summer – we want to do whatever we can within our power to help our clients get to their goals. I appreciate opportunities like this to speak. Our door and phone is always open to chat about these issues. Hope we get to the goals Penny and other companies are making which are bold, brave goals which will change society in a significant way.

Rudy Rodriguez: Thank you so much to both of you. I really enjoyed our time together and learned so much and really appreciate your passion and commitment and specific examples that you shared from your respective firms. I think that our members will really enjoy this.

Thank you for being a part, everyone, of SIFMA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leadership Summit. We appreciate your continued support.

Penny PenningtonPenny Pennington is Managing Partner of Edward Jones, a Fortune 500 financial services firm.

Suzanne ShankSuzanne Shank is President, CEO and a co-founder of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC, a full-service investment banking firm.

Rudy RodriguezRudy Rodriguez leads the Global Diversity and Inclusion efforts for Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

Amena RossAmena Ross is Managing Director of Advocacy, SIFMA. She is responsible for leading SIFMA’s federal government relations.