After civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, a series of racially charged riots took hold across the country.

At the time, David Demming had been working as a student teacher in the inner city of Cleveland while enrolled at Miami University.

“I was an intern teaching at East High School around the Hough riots in 1967 and a student teacher at Glenville High School prior to the riots in 1968 in Cleveland,” said Demming, who works today as a certified financial planner with Demming Financial Services Corporation in Aurora, Ohio. As a result of this early life experience teaching underprivileged youth, Demming carries a sensitivity and awareness about race that others may not have.

Through family connections, he departed to take a job at a financial firm where he obtained his securities license. Some 40 years later, Demming is more than comfortable advising multiracial clients about their finances.

“The payback is loyalty and referrals,” said Demming, who works with international, white, black and interracial clients. "Be honest and sincere without pretense around those who come from a different racial background."

Although a lot has changed for African-Americans since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, some would argue that skin color remains a barrier.

“Racial diversity is very high on the uncomfortable discourse list, which suggests that it needs more attention and conversation,” said Lazetta Rainey Braxton, financial advisor and chair of the Association of African American Financial Advisors. “This is one of the areas that we can embrace because it may give room to other diverse populations as well.”

Increased diversity can also contribute to a firm’s bottom line.

Companies in the top quarter for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, according to a McKinsey & Company report.

Braxton led a webinar on October 25 titled "Staying Relevant in an Increasingly Diverse Environment" hosted by the XY Planning Network to help advisors who want the increased revenue that a diversified client base can bring but may feel ill-equipped to establish such relationships.

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