Student organization aims to bring diversity to Wall Street

As a young woman growing up in the melting pot of Miami, I was exposed to minorities achieving success in every career and industry. Going to an all girls high school almost entirely comprised of Latinas only further reinforced the notion that anyone could achieve anything, as nearly every leadership position was held by what corporate America would consider a minority. It was not until I steered myself much deeper into my niche in finance that I began to realize the discrepancy that existed in my perception of reality and true reality. The lack of diversity in the banking industry was a phenomenon I was set on better understanding if I ever hoped to rectify it.

Upon analyzing my own experience and speaking to peers, it became clear that there was a correlation between those that did not have a network in banking prior to college and those that opted out of pursuing this career path or kept facing rejection with applications to programs aimed at streamlining young talent into top banks. It seemed not that there was purposeful exclusion of minorities, but more of a chicken/egg phenomenon in which there existed an ongoing cycle of needing a network to penetrate the world of banking and having already penetrated the world of banking to get a network. Though not much, I had seen breaks in both the correlation and cycle, and as a firm believer in an internal locus of control, was determined to be a part of it. In my pursuit of my master’s degree in Finance, exploring potential banks and choosing my career path, I quickly learned the key to breaking both the correlation and cycle was threefold:

  1. Seeking information without expecting opportunities (as not to waste the time of others or yourself when there are)
  2. Shamelessly reaching out to upperclassmen and recent grads about how they got their positions
  3. Above everything, being a likable person rather than a stellar resume, brilliant at modeling or trained interview bot

Just when the implementation of these principles was yielding results in my own life, I was approached by Felipe Gatos and Pedro Celis to help others do the same. In the summer of 2019, a like-minded group comprised of these two leaders, two other MSF students and myself founded Diversity in Banking & Securities to promote our personal missions of bringing diversity to Wall Street. Being a new club on a campus of well-established organizations was of course challenging, but with the help of so many faculty, other organizations that also believed in our mission and a clear vision of what needed to be achieved, we were quickly beginning to earn the attention of students with an interest in banking, but little understanding of where to start. Our initial General Body Meetings consisted of events like “Finance 101” that helped students explore the differences between areas of banking and “The Applicant Package” that helped students form their elevator pitches for banking recruiters, create resumes that appeal to banks and understand the kinds of questions asked at first round interviews. Inadvertently, this was forcing students to practice my first principle of breaking the cycle and correlation of little diversity on Wall Street. 

Soon, we were invited by the Association of Latino Professionals for America to participate in their Diversity Speaker Series and even approached by companies like SEO and Suited to host events to get them in front of our organization and streamline talent directly out of DBS. In only a year, we had helped more students than we had ever imagined and contributed to breaking the ongoing cycle and correlation I had seen during my early undergraduate career. As of 2020, Diversity in Banking & Securities has proudly implemented a mentor program that allows students to be matched with the members of our Executive and Director Board based on what area of banking they are interested in, what firms they are interested in and where they are in the process of understanding the industry. By creating an available and willing source for students to reach out to (that were in their shoes only years or months ago), we were not only helping them begin to build their banking network, but learn the concrete steps about programs that pipeline into the positions they were seeking. Again, less inadvertently, we had achieved my second principle of breaking the cycle and correlation.

Today, DBS is a group made up of aspiring Investment Bankers, Consultants, Financial Advisors and much more led by my Co-President Giancarlo Tassi, myself and our amazing E-Board and D-Board that put countless hours into achieving a mission that has gone from merely a vision to a nearly tangible shattering of the glass ceiling: Agustina Vincent, Francisco Perez-Corredor, Gaston Jara, Grant Stanish, Jessica Pegueros, Jose Mayorca and Michelle Fernandez-Valle (Chief Marketing Officer). We have been able to build a community that empowers students to understand that Wall Street is within reach of any of us Business Gators by informing, educating, providing support, helping with interview readiness, fostering a banking network with alum and upperclassmen, connecting them with employers and diversity organizations, bringing speakers, sharing opportunities in banking and giving students an authentic and concrete foundation to achieve a dream that may feel unattainable to some, but is well within reach of everyone.

Though I left Miami for Gainesville and will soon be leaving Gainesville for New York, I am confident that with the help of student leaders like those of DBS, my naïve “Miami perception of reality” will one day be a universal reality in which success in this industry is based on merit and the ability to achieve greatness is clearly defined for anyone that seeks it.