In a bygone era of doing business, it was expected, if not accepted, that a company's sole purpose was to make money. It can even be argued that the financial services industry was an architect of this view.
After all, the industry is ground zero for generating fees and client outcomes. However, the world is changing and corporate stewardship along with it. At some point in the future, it's possible that folks will look back at one of the positives to emerge from a challenging, volatile 2020 is that more companies are waking up to the notion of social responsibility.
Today, some firms are awakening to that theme more rapidly than others. Count Kingswood U.S. among those in the financial services industry that are proving quick on the social responsibility uptake.
“An SEC-registered RIA and a FINRA-licensed broker/dealer with over $1.5B in assets under management, we offer comprehensive wealth management and business-building services, designed specifically for the independent financial advisor,” according to the firm.
The Atlanta-based money manager isn't just doing good. It's doing good in its own backyard, working with the Step-By-Step Initiative to make back-to-school season easier for local families in need.
Starting the School Year Off Right
Owing to his experience in law enforcement, Step-By-Step founder Sirdarius Rashod "Deputy B" Benton possesses intimate knowledge of the community. He sees families struggle to prepare children for the new school year and that's the impetus behind the “Back to School Jamboree”, which was held on July 24.
For Kingswood, the event was an attractive opportunity to put a growing policy of community enhancement to work with visible benefits, not just blindly cutting a check.
“We wanted to start with the local community and something where we would know our impact would be real and we could actually be involved with it rather than sending money somewhere and saying 'that's that,'” said Kingswood Director of Operations and Onboarding Ashley Webb.
She notes that due to Benton's ties to the Henry County community, he comes in contact with a lot of kids that are struggling – whether it by way of financial circumstances, COVID-19 or otherwise. Through that, Benton has important relationships with children and he's looking for ways to bolster their educational progress.
“It was important for us (Kingswood) to do something around education,” said Webb. 'The 'Back to School Jamboree' is Step-By-Step's first event. They identified 55 local kids that are in need of some extra assistance.”
The students all get important back to school supplies and 10 of the kids were surprised with a shopping spree at Target. Proving that doing good in the neighborhood can be a family affair, the shopping spree happened at the Target store managed by Webb's husband.
All told, Kingswood raised more than $22,000 for “'The 'Back to School Jamboree.” That's a lot of backpacks. Moreover, that's a lot of positive impact on the community.
Not Stopping With Step-By-Step
Obviously, Step-By-Step is a great cause and with so many companies focusing global causes, Kingswood is to be commended for its backyard charitable focus, but as Webb points out, the asset manager isn't resting on those laurels.
She says Kingswood's next initiative could focus on young girls' education and that the firm's community efforts could encompass two major events per year as well as stepped up efforts around the holiday season.
“As we grow, it might get bigger and bigger and we might have multiple things going at the same time,” said Webb. “If other great opportunities present themselves along the way, I'll definitely look at those as well.”
With that inertia, it's possible Kingswood is rolling out a template of community involvement and responsibility other firms can and should emulate.