In today’s world, where most sixth graders can be found reading from their phones or choosing the perfect selfie; then sixth grader Shawn Hart was reading the Wall Street Journal.
“One day my father gave me The Wall Street Journal and said, can you read this? I don’t understand it,” Hart said. “So, I start reading the Wall Street Journal, learning it, translating it and by the time I was in the eighth grade, I started telling my father what to do and how to trade.”
Putting his early knowledge into practice, Hart began investing and trading on his own and by high-school was looking for a career in finance. Now 30, Hart is CEO and founder of Hart Wealth Strategies, where for the past five-years he has worked as a financial advisor and consulted with businesses, individuals on growing & sustaining wealth.
After high-school, Hart went to sharpen his knowledge at Lincoln University, where he then got the opportunity to work at the epicenter of the financial industry, Wall Street. He was the only African-American and non-Ivy League student within the 20 candidate program. Hart went on to earn a mentor in Brian Harte, who Shawn credits for inspiring his career path.
“The one thing that he saw in me was that I was willing to outwork people,” Hart said. “My father gave me an introduction, but Brian brought it to a whole new level.”
However, Hart’s journey to success was not without obstacles. Leaving a comfortable position at Merrill Lynch at 24 to be an independent financial consultant was a decision Hart recalls as a “humbling” experience.
“I thought that I was good enough to survive instantly, so I was a little cocky at that point,” Hart said. “In that first year, I made less than $10,000 in income and life changed for me. But that’s another reason I work so hard every day because it’s not a game when it’s all on you.”
Hart’s unceasing determination and quick-thinking mindset can also be attributed to his Bronx upbringing. While his experiences were “rough,” he credits the borough for fueling his passion for finance as well as inspiring him to tackle financial literacy in the black community. Outside of his work day, Hart volunteers at middle and high schools in the Baltimore area, regularly participating in speaking engagements in addition to serving as a board member of the Monarch Academy Charter School for the past three years.
“I love helping kids like me,” Hart said. At Monarch, we are implementing more activities and programs to make these young men and women successful and take them to the next level. I want to show them that there is a representation and that achievement is possible.”
Hart Wealth Strategies is also working on upcoming community events dedicated to professional development and financial literacy. The first being the “Little Black Dress Event,” which will be geared towards women and designed to build confidence and address issues such as the wage gap and to help women understand more clearly about wealth building. The second being the Financial Literacy cookout, where community members of West Baltimore are invited to talk to banks and financial consultants about strategies to create and maintain wealth.
When it comes to strengthening financial literacy for the black community, Hart believes that you can’t be too poor to create wealth and that any financial situation is reversible with discipline.
“You don’t have to have a lot of money to create wealth,” Hart said. “I really just want us understand what wealth is and how to obtain wealth. We have to take ownership and responsibility, acknowledge that gap in today’s world and figure out what are we doing today to progress forward.”
Looking towards a future, Hart hopes that Hart Wealth Strategies will not only become a premier firm, but also a firm that continues to grow with representation and prestige.
“I’m a firm believer of ‘If I can dream it I can achieve it.’ I just have to know how to go about it.”
For more information, visit: www.hartwealthstrategies.com