Increasing the diversity of the financial advice sector is a topic that’s been discussed — and worked on — for years although only incremental gains have been achieved. A platform set to launch next month seeks to make a tangible difference.
The Onyx Advisor Network will provide access to custodial, investment management, compliance, coaching and other resources for what its founders call “underrepresented advisers,” which encompasses people of color, women, LGBTQ and others who have had difficulty in obtaining a foothold in the advice industry.
“We are intentionally saying that the Onyx adviser community is made for the underrepresented,” Dasarte Yarnway, founder of Berknell Financial Group and co-founder of Onyx, said in an interview. “I don’t think there’s a network or a community that’s doing just that.”
Named after the onyx stone, which features a variety of colors, the network’s goal is to help diverse advisers gain a competitive advantage, according to an announcement Tuesday.
“For so many years, we’ve said that we wanted to increase the efforts in diversity, inclusion and belonging, but nothing’s changed,” Yarnway said. “The network allows these advisers that are traditionally disenfranchised to have everything that they need to be successful — as we like to say, to start, scale and sustain their businesses. I think just that intentionality makes a big difference for the community.”
Onyx will provide a bundled technology stack for advisers on the platform and will offer investment management services — Onyx Model Portfolios — through Vanguard. Network advisers can purchase additional technology at a discount from other platform partners, which include Altruist, MessageWatcher, Envestnet MoneyGuide, RightCapital, Synergy RIA Compliance Solutions and Wealthbox.
“The adviser will have a longer runway to remain in the business, will be able to manage assets for their clients and will be abel to do so in a cost-effective manner,” Yarnway said.
Advisers can join the network for a monthly fee that has not been determined. Onyx hopes to do a beta test with 10 to 25 advisers by the end of January, Yarnway said. It hopes to have 100 advisers in the network by the end of next year and 500 in three years.
Offering more affordable access to custodial services is one of the most important dimensions of the platform, Yarnway said. Advisers on the network likely will have assets under management that don’t meet the minimums set by major custodians.
“What we’ve been able to do is eliminate those asset minimums to allow advisers to be able to manage assets for their communities,” he said.
Promoting underrepresented advisers is an effective way to reduce the wealth gap in America, said Emlen Miles-Mattingly, founder and chief executive of Gen Next Wealth and co-founder of Onyx.
“In creating the Onyx platform, we will provide access to millions of individuals and families in minority communities who want to build generational wealth but lack the knowledge, relationships, and tools that have traditionally been difficult to access,” Miles-Mattingly said in a statement.
Yarnway and Miles-Mattingly met on social media in 2018. Yarnway invited Miles-Mattingly to be a guest on his podcast to discuss how to scale an advisory business. Over the years as they spoke at conferences, they realized that many advisers had the same questions about their tech stack, pricing, marketing and other operations.
“We thought about giving that [support] to the underrepresented advisers,” Yarnway said. “We wanted to be able to scale that and give it people so they can be successful, and that’s kind of how the idea” for Onyx was born.
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