Anna N’Jie-Konte likes to dream big. A Certified Financial Planner, business owner, wife, and mother of three, she has built a career that not only lets her live out her dreams in a big way — but allows her to help clients make theirs a reality, too.
We spoke to Anna about forging a career path in an industry where envisioning her future wasn’t always easy, and how she is dedicated to making financial services more inclusive and accessible for women; Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC); and minority communities.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the finance industry?
I sort of fell into financial planning. I never even knew it was a profession, besides this nebulous idea around “someone managing rich people’s money.” But when I learned about wealth management, many of the lesser known aspects of the job, like solving problems, working on projects, and talking with others, it interested me.
Since I’ve transitioned into this industry, the lack of mentorship has been difficult. It was hard to find somebody I felt understood that this was all so new to me. At times, I stumbled because I didn’t have guidance. It’s mainly out of sheer stubbornness and determination that I am where I am today.
For a while, it was difficult to see a path for myself as a financial planner that allowed me to live my life in a way that felt true to me. I didn’t see a lot of women like me — or women, period — in senior leadership roles. Women with children, women who had successful marriages, and Latina and black women were non-existent in the industry. I would think: How am I going to have a good marriage and strong, healthy relationship with my children? How am I going to be a good daughter and sister — and still be successful? Because I derive a lot of enjoyment from all of those things, and they’re important aspects of my identity. Until I really began to envision it for myself, it was hard to comprehend how it was going to work out.
You started your own firm, Dare to Dream. Can you tell us about the name and what it means for you and your approach to financial planning?
Before starting my business, I spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and settling because I couldn’t see how I could do it all. I was overwhelmed by messages telling me to, “slow down … don’t try to get too big … don’t try to do too much … everything in due time.” I was living a life that wasn’t as bold and as big as what I wanted for myself. But I knew that I could achieve more.
I see it a lot in society: People saying they need to be practical and telling themselves self-limiting stories. I want to serve as a person who can help others achieve more comfort, stability, and confidence with their finances, so they can pursue their dreams. The name of my business — Dare to Dream — is a call for people to dare to dream bigger.
What are some barriers that BIPOC and minority groups face when it comes to financial planning and investing? How can these challenges be addressed?
A lack of familiarity is definitely a problem, and a lot of mindset shifts need to happen. In my experience, a lot of communities of color aren’t really thinking about investing and are more focused on cash flow. For example, they’re thinking, “Can I afford to pay that bill or make this mortgage payment?” While this is important, we have to look beyond that, because we know that long-term wealth is not built without investing and strategic thinking.
You can’t know what you don’t know, so there needs to be more exposure, as well. So much of financial literacy and education and confidence is absorbed through osmosis — you hear your parents or peers talking about their 401(k) contribution or general investing in mutual funds, for example. But not everyone has these experiences, so we need to increase awareness and education.
This means we need to have more diverse people talking to minority communities, because there is a level of comfort and freedom that comes when speaking to somebody that looks like you, sounds like you, and understands you on more than a surface level. We’re all humans, but we have different experiences — and feeling seen and understood by professionals in the financial services industry is critical for all communities.
I want people to understand that wealth and financial security is not just for rich people — it’s for everybody. While it will look different for everyone, we all have the capacity, when appropriately guided and directed, to achieve that. It’s my personal mission to make financial planning more accessible and financial stability more of a reality for more people. Because knowing you’re financially prepared for what comes your way makes life easier and simpler and relieves so much stress, anxiety, and negativity. It’s a level of peace I want everyone to know.
Anna N’jie-Konte is a passionate believer in the empowerment of women and minorities in America. She is the founder of Dare to Dream Financial Planning: a fee-only, virtual financial planning firm that serves the needs of 30/40 something women of color who want to live boldly and make a lasting impact on their family tree.
She is also the host of the “First-Gen Realness” podcast. There, she engages in conversations with her fellow first-generation Americans in order to reinforce their value and immense contributions to the fabric of America. By fostering a sense of community, she hopes to remind her peers that they matter, their stories are important and they are not alone in attempting to navigate multiple cultures with grace.
Anna is a native New Yorker; lover of everything related to food, the Gambia, Latino history, West African culture, and literature. When she doesn’t have her head buried in a spreadsheet, you can find her working out, re-reading literary classics, hanging with her husband and three daughters, or dreaming about her next adventure.