BRYN MAWR, Pa., July 25, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The financial services profession needs to do a better job recruiting people with disabilities, according to some members of a panel of experts assembled by The American College of Financial Services to mark the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Moderated by Adam Beck, Director of The American College MassMutual Center for Special Needs and Assistant Professor of Health Insurance, the panel discussion focused on how the financial services field has evolved since the ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, and what challenges remain.
The high-profile panel featured Joseph Mallee, CEO of MassMutual Eastern Pennsylvania; Kane Brolin, Financial Advisor for Brolin Wealth Management; Terri Matthews, Founder and CEO of Jaden's Voice; and Maria Town, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
During the discussion, Mallee said the financial services field is not doing a great job attracting people with disabilities, despite his belief that they are a natural fit for the profession.
"I personally think good financial planners are great listeners and they're great with empathy," he said. "So if you've got somebody that has a life experience, that has had their own struggles, I think you're probably going to have a person who has an easier time empathizing with somebody else's issues. That's usually the recipe for being a great advisor."
For fellow panelist Brolin, who was born blind, getting his foot in the financial services door prior to 1990 was extremely difficult. But he said the ADA has helped to open up tremendous opportunities in his field.
"If you can sell and if you can empathize with people and tailor products and services to their needs and deal with folks on the ground in a way that makes them believe in you, you can be a financial planner . . . or do a lot of other jobs that interface with people from a financial services standpoint," Brolin said. "This is a way that many of us in my movement can gain freedom and prosperity and help other people like us to realize that we have power to live in the world."
"The promise of the ADA was the full inclusion in our society of people with disabilities," Beck said. "That means being a part of the financial services industry. We must focus on products and services that improve life and financial security for people with disabilities, and part of that includes having a profession that includes people with disabilities who bring so much to the table."
In addition to stepping up recruiting efforts, the panel identified other ways of making the financial services profession more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities. Some examples: creating marketing materials and internal tools that are more accessible, and making it easier for people with disabilities to prepare for and take tests, a critical requirement for anyone interested in financial services.
Overall, the panel felt optimistic about the future for people living with disabilities in America. To view the full discussion, visit specialneeds.theamericancollege.edu
About The American College of Financial Services
The American College of Financial Services is the nation's largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has served as a valued business partner to banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and others since 1927. The American College faculty represents some of the financial services profession's foremost thought leaders. For more information, visit TheAmericanCollege.edu.
SOURCE The American College of Financial Services