Forum on Financial Responsibility in Communities of Color

The Forum brings together academics, practitioners, and regulators not only to discuss the range of financial concerns that were highlighted by the most recent financial crisis and the manner in which those concerns impact communities of color, but also to advance practical solutions for responding to those concerns. In particular, the Forum will focus on issues such as financial literacy and financial decision-making, market participation and investment opportunities, access to appropriate financial products, as well as securities and investment fraud. The Forum is invitation only.

The financial crisis highlighted significant concerns surrounding the financial health of all Americans, including people of color. In particular, the financial crisis revealed concerns around a range of financially-related issues including financial literacy, financial decision-making, investment choices and opportunities, access to appropriate financial products, as well as an understanding about the financial and securities market more generally. The financial crisis also revealed that an individual’s ability to effectively navigate these issues not only impacts the personal finances and financial stability of the individual decision-maker, but also impacts the stability of communities and the broader economy. The financial crisis further highlighted what many studies had long revealed—concerns surrounding financial literacy, access, and responsibility are often more acute for people of color. The crisis shed light on the fact that insufficient attention has been given to ensuring that all Americans, including people of color, are better financial stewards. This Forum devotes attention to this important issue by bringing together academics, practitioners, and regulators to discuss these issues and advance practical solutions that reach their targeted audience.


Agenda

Noon-1 pm: Registration and Lunch

1 - 1:15: Welcome and Introductions
Professor Lisa M. Fairfax
Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law
Director, Corporate Law and Governance Initiative
The George Washington University Law School

1:15 - 2:45 pm: Roundtable 1: Financial Literacy

Studies show that a large number of Americans are financially illiterate. In other words, a large number of Americans not only do not understand basic financial concepts, but also do not understand how those concepts get applied in financial decision-making. Financial illiteracy is particularly acute in communities of color. Financial illiteracy has an impact on people’s ability to make informed financial decisions, to withstand financial difficulties (both short-term Draft of October 23, 2017 2 and long-term), and to effectively plan for their financial future. Financial illiteracy not only reflects, but also contributes to, the income and wealth gap. This Roundtable discusses the causes, consequences and implications of financial illiteracy in communities of color, and then explores the extent to which we can employ more effective strategies for improving financial literacy while grappling with the negative repercussions of financial illiteracy.

2:45 - 3 pm: Coffee & Networking Break

3 - 4:30 pm: Roundtable 2: Market Participation

The first Roundtable revealed that many people of color engage with the financial market in sub-optimal ways, such as through an overreliance on credit and non-banking products. However, even when people of color do not rely on such products, studies reveal that people of color fail to take full advantage of investment opportunities. This failure has particular implications for the wealth gap and our ability to close that gap. This Roundtable will discuss the investment patterns associated with people of color, the causes and implications of those patterns, and strategies for addressing investment patterns that may have negative repercussions. This Roundtable also will explore recent innovations with respect to investment opportunities and the benefits and drawbacks of those opportunities for people of color.

4:30 - 4:45 pm: Coffee & Networking Break

4:45 - 6 pm: Roundtable 3: Securities and Investment Fraud

Obviously, all investors are susceptible to fraud. However, studies reveal that communities of color are particularly vulnerable to certain types of fraud, particularly fraud emphasizing group solidarity. One example of this phenomenon is affinity fraud. Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that target identifiable groups, usually religious or ethnic groups, perpetrated by members of the targeted group or someone claiming to be a group ally. Affinity fraud exploits the trust and shared identity of targeted groups, and thus its victims come from every realm of the economic ladder. Affinity fraud can be more difficult to detect because of the close-knit structure of some groups, and harder to prosecute because of the unwillingness of victims to notify authorities about group members’ actions. This Roundtable discusses affinity fraud and other forms of financial and investment fraud with the aim of better understanding such fraud, and of exploring strategies related to raising awareness as well as pinpointing more effective prevention and detection techniques.


Participants

Tamara Belinfanti
Professor of Law 
Co-Director, Center for Business and Financial Law
New York Law School
 
Marla Bilonick
Executive Director
Latino Economic Development Center

Karen Brown
Theodore Rinehard Professor of Business Law
The George Washington University Law School

Chris Brummer
Agnes N. Williams Research Professor
Faculty Director, Institute of International Economic Law Professor of Law 
Georgetown University Law Center

Camille Busette
Senior Fellow-Economic Studies, Governance Studies Metropolitan Policy Program
Director-Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative 
The Brookings Institution

Donna Chambers
Senior Special Counsel
Securities and Exchange Commission

Ronald Crawford
Former Chief Diversity Counsel
Securities and Exchange Commission

Mechele Dickerson
Arthur L. Moller Chair in Bankruptcy Law and Practice University Distinguished Teaching Professor 
The University of Texas at Austin School of Law

Gina-Gail Fletcher
Associate Professor of Law
Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Jose Gabilondo 
Professor of Law
Florida International University College of Law

Keir Gumbs
Partner
Covington & Burling LLP

Cassandra Jones-Harvard 
Professor of Law
University of Baltimore School of Law

Danielle Holley-Walker
Professor of Law and Dean
Howard University School of Law

Regina Jefferson
Professor of Law
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University 

Kristen Johnson
Fried Frank Fellow
NAACP Legal Development & Education Fund, Inc.

Kristin Johnson 
Professor of Law
Seton Hall University School of Law

Susan Jones 
Professor of Clinical Law
The George Washington University Law School

Kenyan McDuffie
D.C. Councilmember-Ward 5

Tracey McNeil
Ombudsman
Securities and Exchange Commission

Lona Nallengara
Partner 
Shearman & Sterling LLP

Andre Owens
Partner
WilmerHale

Daniel Palacios
Policy Associate 
National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders

Alicia Plerhoples
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center

Tonya Robinson
General Counsel
KPMG LLP

Dariely Rodriquez
Director, Economic Justice Project
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Patience Singleton
Acting Chief Supervisory Policy
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Jante Turner
Counsel
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

Petal Walker 
Special Counsel
WilmerHale

Erica Williams
Partner
Kirkland & Ellis LLP