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A candid conversation with Anthony Young

by Justin Key


The future of wealth in the black community has garnered attention in mainstream due to a thriving community in Tulsa, OK, best known as Black Wall Street. In 2019, graduates of Morehouse College, a historically black college and university (HBCU), received a generous donation from Robert F. Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. The news created a buzz on mainstream and social media platforms during the commencement speech.


Smith is one of five African-American billionaires in the United States, but other financial executives are making strides in Memphis to help fund new business ventures.


On the local front, Anthony Young, capital executive-in-residence, works with entrepreneurs at Epicenter Memphis, the hub of entrepreneurship in the Memphis region, collaborating with a network of partners to ensure entrepreneurs have equitable access to the capital and customers they need to launch and thrive. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in managerial finance from the University of Mississippi.



Courtesy Photo: Anthony Young

Q: What are the duties of your current position?


A: “I serve as the capital executive-in-residence for Epicenter, the entrepreneurship hub of the Greater Memphis region. In my role, I connect entrepreneurs to a variety of capital types and help ensure equitable access to capital across the Memphis community. Prior to my role at Epicenter, I served as the economic development director at River City Capital, an affiliate of Community LIFT, where I led the organization's strategies to support economic development in distressed Memphis neighborhoods. In that role, I was instrumental in developing new products and new policies, to help small businesses grow in under served communities.”


Q: What do you think is the role of Black men in finance?


A: I think our role is not only to act as confidants and advisors in matters of banking, insurance, investments, retirement and college funding, but also to use our voices to express the financial needs and concerns of our community. We should be intentional to ensure that there is inclusion and equity in the financial products and services being offered.”


Q: How has being a Black American male affected your career path?


A: “Being black in Corporate America has its challenges and hurdles. As a black male, I don’t have the double-bias and the same disadvantages that black women face, but I’ve encountered obstacles, for sure. I spent the first 11 years of my career in banking. For the most part, middle-management and executive leadership were primarily white-male dominant, so there was internal and external pressure to conform or “code-switch.” I remember being told that I needed to be “more polished” or “have the executive image” or “be more like this guy” to be successful. Early in my career, there was also reluctance to voice my opinion or push back on issues because of the “angry black man”stereotype. Moreover, there weren’t many outlets to vent or express my frustrations or concerns. There was an unspoken rule that I had to be “strong” and “unemotional” when problems occurred. So the stress just bottles up. As I progressed and began to climb the ladder, I just decided to be myself and allow my talents and performance to justify my presence at the table.”


Q: Are there any future trends you’d like to see take off?


A: “I’d also like to see more black angel investors, and I’d like to see more black representation in venture capital firms, as black-founded companies are accessing less than 1 percent of venture capital. I think that is largely due to inherent bias, so we need more black decision-makers in the room.”


Q: What financial advice would you give to families?


A: “Have a will in place. We don’t want the ownership of assets and property to be decided by probate court. Secondly, have layers of life insurance (whether whole, term, universal, or a combination) to cover assets, satisfy financial obligations, and sustain the family’s quality of life. For example, you could have a small whole life policy to cover your final expenses, and a substantial term life or universal policy to cover your assets.


Obtain homeowner’s insurance on inherited real estate. This will likely take additional paperwork or filing an affidavit, but get with an expert to navigate through the process. If a fire or a natural disaster occurs, it’s important that you’re properly covered. If you’re renting, get renter’s insurance. It’s relatively inexpensive.


Set short-term, mid-range, and long-term financial goals (have an annual family meeting to check the progress).


Lastly, have an open dialogue about money in the family. It can be uncomfortable, but everyone should know the family’s financial goals, financial pitfalls, etc. Having an “open door policy” on money can also bridge any financial literacy gaps for our children.”


Q: What financial advice would you give to black entrepreneurs?


A: “Seventy-seven percent of black-owned companies are funded by the owner’s personal cash, which could exhaust savings and retirement accounts. So, I advise entrepreneurs to build a financial model that pays the entrepreneur, helping to secure some sense of financial stability, even if the company fails.”


To learn more about Anthony Young, visit epicentermemphis.org.


Justin Key is a content writer for Memphis Small Business Quarterly. Key is the founder of Mindset Mgmt Group and the author of Mind Control: Change The Way You Think So You Can Live A LIMITLESS Life. He can be reached at info.justinkey@gmail.com.


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