How One Harvard Undergrad Is Diversifying Wall Street

Written by Ann Brown

Despite countless diversity efforts, Wall Street still remains mainly white and male. In fact, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the proportion of Black financial managers was a mere 6.3 percent in 2015.

“The lack of diversity is extraordinary,” John Rogers, chief executive officer of Ariel Investments LLC, one of the largest Black-owned money managers in the U.S, told Bloomberg. “People have not thought about this problem in creative ways. That’s why there’s been so little progress.”

But a Harvard University student is looking to change these stats. While doing a summer internship last year at C.L. King & Associates Inc., a small investment bank, Angel Onuoha, class of 2020, realized he had not met another Black employee.

He contacted fellow freshman Drew Tucker. They had met through a campus organization for Black men and the two had like interests as well as like concerns, such as hot the university business clubs didn’t focus on Onuoha sent Tucker a text message about his idea–create an investment fund that would give students, particularly students of color, hands-on experience as well as provide banks with a pool of talented Black students to recruit from.

The two founded BLK Capital Management Corp., a hedge fund with about 85 student members. While the fund manages $92,000, BLK has not made any investments as of yet. Yet Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have taken notice.

BLK is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and plans to invest in smaller firms.

Onuoha and Tucker recruited another friend, Menelik Graham, a Princeton student Tucker met through a leadership program for students from low-income backgrounds. They reached out to Graham to attract additional students to the hedge fund outside of Harvard. The threesome also attended the Black Ivy League Business Conference to spread the word about BLK.

About 450 students applied to BLK, and about one-fifth were accepted. It wasn’t an easy task. BLK put the applicants through an intensive “application process that included an interview and a case study that was adjusted for prior experience. BLK pulled heavily from the Ivies but also from schools such as Stanford and the University of Virginia,” Bloomberg reported.

Once students have been accepted they are expected to be very involved–and committed. They must participate in a two-hour conference call on Sundays. And, there’s about five to seven hours of homework weekly, “which might include practicing, say, a discounted cash flow analysis,” Bloomberg reported.

For Onuoha, who applied to five Ivy League schools and was accepted to all of them, BLK might help change the face of Wall Street.