Major financial brokerage firms in Prince George’s County, Md. are scarce. This leaves residents of the wealthiest Black county in America hungry for financial counseling services. What’s even harder to find are firms that cater to and understand the needs of women seeking to be a better stewards of their money.
Zaneilia Harris, owner of Harris and Harris Wealth Management Group, believes she is the answer for high-powered women in the county and the surrounding D.C. region. “When you change the mindset of women and get them on the right track, you begin to change your community,” Harris said.
In the male-dominated financial sector, quality service for women may be hard to come by. They’re meticulous, inquisitive and need details – especially when it comes to their money. “I feel that the larger firms still have not figured out how to talk to women, so when they go to their advisors – if they have one – a lot of women feel that they’re talked down to and that their approach is not received,” said Harris, a certified financial planner with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va.
Who are the best advisors for women? Other women, says Harris. “We’re good at relationship [building]. It’s a natural part of who we are. When I gain a client, it’s not that I’m gaining them for a transaction, I’m gaining a relationship with them hopefully for the rest of their lives.
For clients, Harris handles everything from managing investment portfolios to helping them understand their cash flow to providing guidance on risk management and insurance needs. She dives into their lives to construct financial goals that are comparable to their dreams.
In her blog, Finances and Stilettos, Harris gives her perspective on managing money for the “well-heeled” woman. She also features other high-powered women like Gerri Mason Hall, senior vice president and chief human resource officer at Sodexo North America, who discussed her road to professional and financial achievement in a Jan. 2015 blog interview.
Through her resources, Harris hopes to empower women to create generational wealth. “One of my goals is to make as many women millionaires as I can,” she says, but it won’t be easy. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to commit themselves to overcoming their financial barriers. “It’s not many of us in those echelons,” says Harris. “But if I can help more of us get there, I feel that’s a great legacy to leave.”