Cherry’s first memories of finances date back to his childhood. His parents encouraged him and his siblings to begin saving at a young age. His parents set up a system similar to a 401(k) – for every $3 Cherry contributed, his parents would contribute a certain amount to his savings. He would use then his money to buy things he wanted such as a kickball or a Nintendo game.
Several years down the road, at the age of 16, Cherry picked up his first job at a local pharmacy. Cherry was excited to get his first paycheck and made plans to use his money to buy several name brand shirts. However, before he could make his way to the mall, his dad gave him a very memorable lesson on wants versus needs.
Cherry recalls his dad telling him, “You can’t do everything you want to do when you get paid. You have responsibilities like taxes and buying the things you need. You have to save first then go buy the things you want.”
To teach Cherry the value of money, his father told him he was responsible for paying his taxes and purchasing what he needed, including toiletries. Cherry quickly realized the need to save his money and plan for the next month.
Pathway to Financial Planning
After Cherry graduated with his Master’s in Financial Planning from Texas Tech University, he started off in a traditional financial planning role advising clients. His ability to connect with people on a personal level helped propel his career into institutional sales where he sold retirement plan products.
Although Cherry did not see the parallel to financial planning in institutional sales at first, it became more evident when he transitioned to a role as a mutual fund wholesaler. Even though he was no longer building plans, understanding the financial planning process helped him connect to retirement plan sponsors, advisors, and other professionals in institutional sales.
“Being able to connect with advisors and other professionals was an immediate relationship builder,” Cherry said.
The Opportunity for Financial Planning
In the African American community, there is a big disconnect between career opportunities in the financial planning industry and what children see on a daily basis. It is not often that children see their parents meet with a financial planner. Cherry believes if kids do not see what they may want to be when they grow up, they will not know it exists.
Cherry wants to help children realize the importance and the existence of financial planning. He wants people to know there is success in this industry, not only monetarily, but also in the overall capacity to help others. He explains not many people know about financial planning as a career option since it is not as popular –or visible – as lawyers, doctors, and athletes.
Beyond the potential for a career in financial planning, Cherry recognizes there are more important issues that need to be addressed. When asked about the opportunity for financial planning in the African American community, Cherry explained that many families do not see an opportunity to plan ahead. Most times, financial planning is planning ahead for the next month.
“If you have all these immediate burdens and you can’t take care of unscheduled life events then there is not much to plan for until after those settle,” Cherry said.
He believes addressing issues including credit repair and debt reduction will go a long way to spur net worth growth in the African American community. Placing a value on saving and encouraging people to think about mid- and long-term financial goals rather than short-term immediate gratification is important to Cherry.
Equally important to Cherry is addressing value systems that are cross-generational—value systems that permeate all communities and ethnicities. In some urban areas, the only exposure people have to financial services is through payday lenders or bank tellers. According to Cherry, many learned behaviors such as paying overdrafts at banks, borrowing from lenders, not owning assets, or not having life insurance protection are passed down through generations.
Life insurance protection is a subject that hits close to home for Cherry. When he was just starting out and building his own advisory practice, his sister was one of his first clients. Cherry encouraged her to invest in a life insurance policy, not knowing that she would soon face a life threatening medical condition. Thankfully, his sister survived, but had the situation taken a different direction, her husband and kids would have been protected financially. This experience made Cherry realize the positive impact he could have on people’s lives.
Passion and Impact
Cherry is passionate about helping people in his community make wise financial choices and be more financially literate. He recalls an interaction with a customer during his time as a bank teller, where the customer requested a cash withdrawal. As Cherry was counting the customer’s money, the customer asked Cherry to withdraw an extra $300 from her account. The only problem – she did not have an extra $300 in her account. The customer presented her checkbook register to Cherry and insisted that she had the extra money in her account, not realizing her checkbook had been balanced incorrectly.
Although online banking and mobile apps make it easier for people nowadays to keep tabs on their account balances, Cherry insists money management is an important topic for everyone to understand. He believes financial literacy programs, particularly in high school, are important. So important that he wants to spearhead a financial literacy program tailored to urban communities. He takes inspiration from the Financial Planning Academy at Texas Tech University – a program for high school students that introduces them to core topics in personal financial management.
“Connecting with youth at a young age while they are beginning to make lifelong decisions and introducing them to financial literacy will have a lasting impact on their future,” Cherry said.
Ultimately, Cherry wants to lead a purposeful life, impact people financially, and improve financial literacy throughout urban communities. He believes this improvement will lead to lifelong serenity if people are responsible with their finances. In 20 years, Cherry wants 20 stories where he impacted someone’s life, just as he did with his sister’s life.
“Otherwise it’s just talk,” Cherry said.
About the author
Abby Hendricks ’18 is a junior Agricultural Communications major from Nacogdoches, Texas.