I started Financial Samurai in 2009 because I didn't see any minorities writing about personal finance back then. There were so many white people in personal finance, I thought it would be good to provide a different perspective.
Fast-forward to today, Financial Samurai is one of the top personal finance sites in the world with one million organic pageviews a month. It turns out, the personal finance world wanted a different perspective from an Asian person who actually worked in finance for thirteen years.
I'm a Taiwanese-Hawaiian personal finance blogger living in expensive San Francisco, California. The Asian population is only about seven percent in America.
However, roughly forty percent of America's population lives in the more expensive coastal cities. As a result, there is huge demand for content related to higher cost of living issues.
Why Is Personal Finance Realm So Homogenous?
The overrepresentation of white people in the field of personal finance can be attributed to several factors, including historical and systemic inequalities, social networks, and cultural influences. These factors are complex and interrelated, and their impact may vary across different regions and contexts.
Here are some key points to consider:
Historical and systemic inequalities
In many countries, including the United States, there has been a history of racial discrimination and economic disparities. This has resulted in limited access to education, financial resources, and opportunities for many marginalized communities.
As a result, certain professions, including personal finance, have traditionally been dominated by white individuals who have had greater access to resources and networks.
Just look at the book publishing industry. Over eighty percent of employees are white. As a result, there is a bias towards signing more white authors. It is extremely hard to get a book deal as a minority in America. It is even harder to become a bestselling author.
Social networks and mentorship
Personal finance careers often rely on personal connections and networks for opportunities and advancement. In many cases, individuals from marginalized communities may have limited access to these networks due to historical and social barriers. As a result, they may face challenges in entering the field or receiving mentorship and support necessary for career progression.
I don't think most people are purposefully racist. Instead, most people simply take care of people who look more like themselves due to familiarity and comfort. We have a natural bias towards befriending people with similar backgrounds.
White people will support more white people. Just look at who personal finance bloggers and podcasters interview and support. Look at the author support blurbs at the back of books. Supporting your own is the way most people behave.
Cultural influences and stereotypes
Cultural influences and societal stereotypes can shape career choices and perceptions of certain professions. Personal finance is often associated with financial stability, wealth accumulation, and risk management. Stereotypes and biases can affect how individuals from different backgrounds perceive their suitability or interest in pursuing careers in personal finance.
As an Asian person, I decided to lean into these stereotypes and biases because Asians have the highest incomes of all races. Yet, there were little-to-no Asian personal finance bloggers back in 2009.
But the average net worth for white people is the second highest.
Representation and lack of diversity
The lack of diversity within the personal finance industry can create a cycle where individuals from marginalized communities may not see themselves adequately represented or may face barriers in accessing the profession. This lack of representation can further discourage individuals from pursuing careers in personal finance or seeking financial advice from professionals who do not reflect their lived experiences.
Once I had my daughter in 2019, I thought more about representing Asian people in the media. I attended high school and college in Virginia, where there were few Asian people in the media or in positions of power. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to be more public.
The pandemic that began in 2020 created more hate against Asian Americans, which really saddened me. I didn't want my children to live in a world with so much hate. As a result, I decided to do video interviews to show my face when I published my Wall Street Journal bestseller, Buy This, Not That.
More Diversity Is Needed In Personal Finance And Finance
Given how diverse America and the world is, having diversity in personal finance makes sense. We all have different customs, goals, risk tolerances, and circumstances. Why not have more diversity to reach and positively impact more people?
Even though I helped kickstart the modern-day FIRE Movement in 2009, I still don't get the recognition I deserve. Instead, the features by major media organizations usually go towards white people who adopted the movement and came later.
But I continue onward because I enjoy what I do. Eventually, I know I'll get some credit. It's harder to succeed as a minority because you get less support and recognition. But you must continue to fight on anyway to blaze a path for the next generation.
Addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion in personal finance requires a concerted effort to break down systemic barriers. Organizations and journalists must promote equal opportunities and foster an inclusive environment.
Good initiatives such as mentorship programs, educational outreach, diversifying recruitment practices, will help. In the meantime, don't wait for someone else to give you an opportunity. Create your own!
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