Justin works in the finance sector and is an award winning Fund Manager in the investment and savings industry for Legal and General Investment Management. He is also the co-founder of the cutting edge #TalkAboutBlack which aims to encourage greater representation of black leaders in Financial Services. By normalising conversations about ethnicity and race, #TalkaboutBlack has become one of the strongest movements in professional services in the UK.
Q: What made you choose your career?
A: As a young boy I always excelled in Maths. This eventually led me to look at the finance world. My passion for Maths and Economics, would be the foundation to spark the flame. Yet, asset management was an industry I was not aware of until I started working in consultancy. The investment management industry plays a major role in the economy, helping millions of individuals and families achieve their life goals by helping grow their investments (mainly through workplace pensions). In fact, according to the Investment Association, 75% of UK households use an investment manager’s services whether knowingly or unknowingly.
Once I started to learn about financial markets and what drove them, I realised I had a passion in researching and investing and made it my goal to become a part of a team of world class investors.
Q: How do you balance fatherhood and work? Do you have any Advice for others?
A: Having a schedule and a timetable is essential. Not just that, but sticking to it is key though occasionally you might have to change things around because life happens. I must state that my wife is an exemplary source of support in my work, my activism and fatherhood.
My wife and I consistently discuss various parenting strategies with our children. We are both always finding beneficial methodologies to give them the best nurturing, foundation and well-being. So I would advise all the aspiring ‘dope black dads’ to make sure you make quality time for your children (it’s not all about work) and continue to try and make sure you are on the same page as your life partner.
Finally, I would recommend family trips together. This could be to the park, a restaurant or simply playing board games at home. Again, scheduling this time really helps. We have to strive to give our children good memories so they can grow holistically with a good well-being.
Q: Why is it important to you for more black people to enter the financial services industry?
A: As someone who achieved a senior management role at a reasonably young age, I was frustrated that I would only see very few people who looked like me in senior positions. I know that many graduates from our communities can excel in these industries with flying colours. Yet, it is progression in the workplace, in part because corporate culture is not inclusive enough that we at #TalkaboutBlack believe is the real challenge. So myself and 8 others such as Gavin Lewis from BlackRock, Darren Johnson from Impax Asset Management, Rachel Green from Nuveen and Marisa Hall from Willis Towers Watson came together to set up #TalkAboutBlack to improve diversity in the city.
Many of our trailblazers and masterminds from the African and African Caribbean community go into other industries but they tend to be plagued with this similar problem: the lack of black people in senior positions. We need to change this. The asset management industry can benefit from more black excellence from our communities. Another reality is that there is an ever growing amount of new black investors from the UK, Europe, Africa and North America too. Our industries need to be more representative of the communities we serve.
Q: What would you say are the main barriers to the above?
A: I would say: unconscious bias, micro aggressions and cultural barriers that exist in the financial services just like in other industries. Our organisation (#TalkAboutBlack) is currently tackling these issues in the city.
I must state that it’s key to understand that to be a success in this industry you will encounter failures, catastrophes or losses. No matter what, you can’t give up and must strive to get back on your feet. At the same time, you must strive to win with integrity and grit.
Another barrier I would say, is that people from our community who enter this industry must understand that only hard work, perseverance, diligence, 100% focus can make you a success and there are no short cuts. As much as you work on you technical skills you must also work on building relationships.
Q: Any advice for young men and women that want to do what you do?
A: The asset management industry is super competitive. Its imperative to understand that you must be ready to compete to the highest level and always be prepared to bring your ‘A’ game, nothing less.
It’s always key to be innovative, be a good listener, be able to think on your feet and you must be able to use your own initiative. Finally, I would advise to keep up to date with asset management and financial news (online magazines, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal etc.) regularly as this will give you baseline knowledge which is fundamental.
Justin Onuekwusi is a diversity champion in the city. A Mancunian of Grenadian and Nigerian parentage who now lives in South London. The co-founder of #TalkAboutBlack (you can follow on twitter) which aims to get more Black British graduates into fund asset management and fin tech (financial technology). The cutting edge campaign also challenges discrimination and prejudice in the financial sector.
Legal And General Investment Management’s head of retail multi-asset funds, Justin Onuekwusi has recently been awarded the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his work promoting inclusivity within the asset management industry.The accolade dates back to 1237 and is handed to individuals who have achieved success or recognition in their chosen field.