What a Career in Media Taught This Emmy-Winner About Financial Wealth (with SUMA Wealth's Beatriz Acevedo)

Episode Thumbnail
00:00
00:00
1x
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, What a Career in Media Taught This Emmy-Winner About Financial Wealth (with SUMA Wealth's Beatriz Acevedo). The summary for this episode is: <p>"Until we have economic power, we'll never have true power in this country."</p><p><br></p><p>While it sounds harsh, Beatriz Acevedo, the co-founder and CEO of SUMA Wealth - a financial technology company devoted to increasing prosperity, opportunity, and financial inclusion for young, U.S. Latinos - believes it's the reality for Latinx in the United States today. </p><p><br></p><p>In this episode of The American Dream, Beatriz and Elias discuss why there's still such a financial knowledge gap for Latinx in the United States, how the power of community will help bridge the inequality gap among underrepresented groups, and why you should always order the tacos. </p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every other Tuesday.</p><p><br></p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias and Beatriz on Twitter at @eliast, @Bea_latina, and @DriftPodcasts.</p>

Elias Torres: Hola, I'm Elias Torres, co- founder and CTO of Drift. You are listening to the American Dream podcast. Did you know that Drift is part of just 2% of PC backed startups led by Latin American founders? Well, I'm on a mission to change that. On this show, you will hear from leaders who have achieved their own version of the American dream. We'll talk about what the process looked like to get there, the obstacles they faced along the way, and the work we still have to do to build the new face of a diverse corporate America. Bienvenidos a todos to the American Dream podcast. I'm really excited to introduce today's guest, Beatriz Acevedo. Beatriz is a three time Emmy winner, three time founder. Wow. Most recently she started Suma Wealth, a financial technology company devoted to increasing prosperity for young U. S. Latinos. Beatriz started the company after her own experience learning the hard way how to save and manage money. So today we're going to talk about all how Latinos in the U. S. can and should start creating more generational wealth. Let's get into it. Beatriz, welcome to the show.

Beatriz Acevedo: Thank you so much, Elias, for having me. Very excited to be here.

Elias Torres: So many people mention you. You're a star in the community, and it's a privilege to have you here. It seems that you have two big parts of your life are your career, right? One in the creative side, in the artistic, and now into a founder. Tell us a little bit about the Emmys, MTV. Tell us about those things, the things I don't know anything about

Beatriz Acevedo: That was when I was young and cool, amigo. But yeah, I started my career very, very young, when I was eight, actually, as a child DJ in a meduda show called La Hora Menuda. From there, I knew I wanted to be in media. I saw very few people like me, whether it was radio or television or film. I was lucky enough to be one of those 1% that get to be showrunners in this country. I'm originally from Mexico. I met Robert Rodriguez, a director, very early on in my career and in his career. And he told me that in the U. S., even if you were not talented, if you had awards, you could really make it. So I should sell my car, move to the U. S., bring my Emmys, and for sure I would get some jobs. So that's how I moved here in my early twenties. Now I'm well into my fifties, and the rest is history. So I started enthusiastically in media, trying to get more representation and more authentic depictions of our community, which I think is very, very critical, and really spills out into every other industry. And then now have made a very crazy pivot into financial technology, into FinTech. But it's still tied to giving the power to our community and helping them in a culturally relevant way trust a different type of company that has their best interest in mind, that's billed by people like them and for them. So I'm excited with the initial progress we've made with Suma. I was excited with the progress we've made with Mitú, which was my previous digital media company. I guess I'm just an example that you can fully reinvent yourself at any age and learn a new skill foreign language

Elias Torres: That's it, mike drop. Equí estamos. That's right, Mitú is yours, absolutely. I remember that, that was pioneer early Latina founded media company. Wow, there's just so much you just dropped on me at all at once. I think I'm going to start with one of the first things that you said, which is someone said something to you, and it just resonated so much you packed your bags and you came to United States, right?

Beatriz Acevedo: Yeah. I mean, listen, I'm a border girl. So I always had that hustle in me. You grow up with one foot in one country and the other one in another one, and you have to sort of make your own hybrid culture in a way. When I was in early twenties and I heard from somebody like, there's an opportunity, just pack up your three Emmys, your MTV award, sell your car, shoot some pilots, and go to this conference. And I did it. It's crazy, I don't think that I would give that advice to anybody. It's a very competitive ecosystem. And like I said, it's only 1% of us who become showrunners in Hollywood, but somehow luck was on my side. I work hard, but there's a lot of Latinos, as you know, that work very hard and never get those opportunities. I think that's where my... I'm not going to say activism, but definitely my big focus into really bringing more people from my community in anything that I did. I would be so frustrated when I would meet with Hollywood network presidents or CEOs, and they would tell me they couldn't find the Latinos to hire. And I go back to my office and there's hundreds of Latinos looking for an opportunity who never get their phone calls answered from agents or managers, or certainly, certainly not the presidents of the networks. So that broken bridge was very annoying to me. It continues to happen in everything, in boards, in venture capital, in entertainment. We barely pass that 2% when we are such a thriving force in the American economy. So I think since then, I wanted to really try to change many things. For one, the perception of who we are. And second, to really open those doors for that next generation. I mean, certainly in my twenties, I was very focused on me, like how can I progress in my career. Now that I'm in my fifties, I think my biggest goal is how do I open as many doors and leave as many Latinos ready to take on everything that I've been able to do, whether it's board seats, or funding, or in media too, or being able to be a showrunner or an executive producer. So that's where I'm focused on, no matter what industry I'm in.

Elias Torres: Border hustle. I love that. I love that. It's so many things coming to my mind. Quick story, I remember some seniors in college. I lived in Tampa. I went to USF in Tampa, and they were driving to Atlanta for a job fair. And I was a junior. I know business, but I jumped in the car with them and drove five hours one way other five hours other. I met this guy, Bill Lawrence, from IBM, that told me, call me next year, here's my business card, save it. But I also hear that, so I love those things, those stories, because they could be life changing. In some other ways, I feel like you. Sometimes I have trouble giving people same crazy advice, because I'm afraid of being wrong. Ant it's like, what if it doesn't go well? I think that we got to figure that out. I just say we have to take chances in encouraging people because we now are role models and people are to our words. You mentioned a little project there, Suma Wealth. What's the ultimate-

Beatriz Acevedo: I'm super excited Suma Wealth. Suma was born out of the pandemic, by seeing how much economic hardship our community was enduring, coupled with the deaths as well. So not only were we the demo that was dying the most out of COVID, but also had the biggest economic hardship. We saw very clearly how not having an emergency savings account, how having no plans for our immediate future was debilitating in our community. So I started this company, really encouraged by my co- founder, who you might know, Xavier Gutierrez, who is a big financeer and has worked in finance for many, many years, one of the few Latinos. And I thought he was absolutely crazy. We had sold Mitú, and I was looking for another opportunity. I really wanted to focus on my philanthropy, and I wanted to raise a fund to invest in Latina founders. I already mentor a lot of them and connect them to capital, but I wanted to be able to write my own checks aside of just connecting them or giving them advice. And he thought my idea for the fund was horrible; I still think it's a good idea, one day I'll do it. He thought that I should launch this FinTech company, and I thought he was absolutely on drugs. I was like, I'm a marketing person, how am I going to launch a financial company? That's just the stupidest thing I've ever heard. And he would continue to send me articles throughout the pandemic of how Latinos are the hardest hit. And I'm like, I get that, but what do you want me to do? Like, there's nothing I can do. His hypothesis was that a lot of the FinTech companies and also financial institutions, not one you can point out saying, this is the one that owns the Latino community, that the Latinos truly fully trust. So there's not one clear winner. So in a very crowded ecosystem, it's interesting that there's such an incredible opportunity. He had the perception that because of my background in media and entertainment and marketing, I could build a really big community that had the trust that really felt like they belonged here, like I did in my previous company. And then the financial part was easy to hire people to just sort of like come and run. I still thought that was crazy, but I had a couple investors reach out and say, hey, what are you working on next? We'd love to back you. And it was very strange, because I was like, I don't know, I don't even have a name of a company. What do you want to back? It made me very uncomfortable when they would say no, we'll back whatever you are thinking of doing. I'd never had that before, even in my previous company, maybe because I started raising our inaudible, it was very cutthroat, like, deliver, deliver, deliver. It wasn't like, we're betting on you girl. You know? So this was interesting, but I thought maybe I'll raise a little bit of capital and do a test and see if my hypothesis and his hypothesis of highly engaging, culturally relevant, content product services would resonate on the financial side. And very quickly it did. We had a goal to have 150,000 users in year one, and we closed the year close to 600, 000. So that was very exciting. And these are all U. S. born Latino, primarily youth. Eighteen to 34 is our biggest group. It's the people that right now are enrolled in college, entering the workforce, and are those sherpas navigators, influencers in their families and their communities. And we knew that that happened in other areas, but we weren't sure with data that that happened with finance. Now we know that they manage up to three family members' financial accounts aside of their own, and yet they still don't know, don't understand what an emergency savings accounted is, what is a 401k. We have a funny series that's called" 401 qué?" So we take off the stigma of like, it's okay not to know, there's millions of people like you and you're here to learn. So the company just really started to take off within our community as far as high engagement, and just a lot of trust. The top two questions we would get at Mitú were," Where have you been all my life, Mitú?" And," Finally a brand that gets me," are two statements. At Suma, it's" Who do you trust, and who can we trust?" So a lot of power and a lot of responsibility at the same time, if you think about it. We're very excited of the progress we've made. We partner with a lot of the big financial brands and names in FinTech in the industry, really who come to us for finance as a financially culturally relevant content product services as a service, in a way. And it's been great. It's been a really great experience to reimagine how our community needs to get this financial information, and what do they really need, not what people think we need. And yeah, it's just been an incredible ride. It's over a year and a half. I saw no more startups for me at this stage of my career, but I'm incredibly energized with everything that we've been able to accomplish. And you know, the goal is to help close the wealth gap in our community. So it's a very hefty goal, but if I can contribute in any way before I die to do that, I think I'll have a good life.

Elias Torres: Come on, let's be careful with those words. Cause I'm 46 and...

Beatriz Acevedo: I'm much older than you.

Elias Torres: And you're like, oh, I'm not going to... I don't want to say it. Tell me a little bit... Well, I love it. I love it. It's like, I'm here selfishly trying to bring people that inspire me, and one of the things I'm trying to figure out is how to change our community, right? How to change the lives of our people to be happier, to achieve their own American dream, because there's just so many struggles. I think it's public, you let me know, you don't have to go there, but it says that you created this from your own struggles managing finances. You mind sharing a few stories there?

Beatriz Acevedo: Yeah, yeah, no, of course, of course. We talked about my border time. When I graduated college, I moved to Mexico City for a job, and I worked at the only TV network that existed at the time. And I had won my Emmys, and I had won my MTV award, and I was on every cover of a magazine, and I was a" it" girl, and I lived large. I had this penthouse in this amazing area in Mexico City, and I just felt a bit untouchable in my early twenties, like I've made it. Never did I think I could be fired for my job, or something could happen. So I lived like a lot of Latinos, you know, a bit irresponsibly. You're young, you don't really think about the future. And one day I literally got fired from my job. I always joke that my mom, when I say this, she's like foreign language. I'm and I'm like, yes foreign language. You know, I got this, this memo. I'm dating myself, but we had this thing called fax machines. So I got this fax from some coordinator kid who I've never heard of in my life who told me that effective immediately, every single one of my shows would be canceled, but that I would still be collecting my paycheck. If I got that deal today, I'd take it, and just do a ton of philanthropy with that money. But in my early twenties I was arrogant and I was like, what? I quit. What an idiot. But I did. I did. It was literally a way for them to just sort of let you go, but you could still collect your money. So when I decided to quit, I didn't really think about the consequences. First, everything that I had charged on my American Express for that month, for example. And the moment I went to the supermarket and I wanted to literally buy a carton of milk, my credit card didn't go through. And I remember just sitting outside that supermarket sobbing for hours, just thinking, what am I going to do? Like, did I have an emergency savings account? I didn't even know what that was. I never thought that I needed to plan for any sort of contingency. I thought that I was set in life for sure, at least professionally. I learned the hard way. I didn't go into any finance classes, but from that moment on, I saved 50% of everything I made for the rest of my life. I just want to always be sure that in case of any emergency, I'm going to survive here. And it was a very humbling moment to be so on top of the world, and all of a sudden so low. And it was okay not to know. I think that people think that because you're not college educated, because you don't have a job that pays you enough. That's why you don't know about finance. But the reality is, I talk to people now, Latinos and Latinas, who are elected officials, Harvard, MBAs, I mean, people that are so accomplished. And they're like, listen, secretly, thank you for doing that"401 qué?" series because I don't understand my 401k, and I'm embarrassed as an executive vice president at some big network studio to tell the lady from HR that I don't get it. Or, I don't know how to get out of this debt, and I feel embarrassed to ask anybody because they know I'm a celebrity, and how could I ever disclose this to anybody? So there doesn't need to be shame in it. We've all been there. That's why I always want to be very vocal. One, that I was fired. Because sometimes you see the awards or the LinkedIn description, and it sounds like your life has been all on an up- going trend, and it's not right. Sometimes you're down, sometimes you're up. And I think those are the big teaching moments. Suma for me is very personal. You know, I definitely was one of those many millions of Latinos who didn't plan for the future. And I wanted to build something that was community driven. That was, everybody felt like, yes, we've been there, and there's no shame in it. And it doesn't matter how late you are or how early you are, it's always the right time to start. We wanted to do it in a way that wasn't boring, that you couldn't understand it. Sometimes you read from... Banks have financial education, and some of them are my clients, so I'm sorry to say this. But it's very confusing when you read the content. You're just like, I am more confused now after reading this. And I understand they have a ton of compliance things that they have to put in place. So it's very, very hard to be explaining with an avocado, how ripe is your credit, but we get to do that. Or to explain with a soft and a hard tortilla, the difference between a hard credit inquiry and a soft credit inquiry. Or to do a reggaeton song to help you up your credit, or to send people to a money mariachi plaza to help them build their emergency savings account. So we try to use culture front and center, even though it's in English or in Spanish, doesn't matter for us, it's it has to be in culture. So with that in mind, I think that's our secret sauce of what makes our content very, very relatable and very, very engaging.

Elias Torres: I love that. I think if you run into me at a fancy restaurant in Boston, you might have the wrong idea of me in the sense that... I think it was like 10 years, maybe 12 years ago. I couldn't go to a restaurant without ordering kids meals for my kids, three kids, and my wife and I splitting a meal. Because crossing$ 40,$50 for a restaurant in those days it was a big deal for me. And we couldn't do that every day. I mean, I just ordered tacos for lunch here through DoorDash. I think I spent$ 50 just for two tacos, because with fees, delivery, soda, chips, this, that, tip. I was just like, whoa, it's two tacos. And you know what, I think I remember around that time, getting a call from a friend from college that was a financial advisor. I think he was looking for clients. He calls me, hasn't talked to me in 10 years, and goes through my finances and asks me all this question. Ask me how much you spend on this, how much you spend this, how much do you make, blah, blah, blah. And then he asked me... At that time, if you knew me more, you might think this is a funny statement. And how much do you spend on clothes in a month? I said, I don't buy clothes. And he's like, well, that's not possible, you got to... I go, my mother works at Dillard's in Tampa, so she sends me all the clothes that are like the sale after the markdown, after the markdown, after the markdown, which are Polo shirts. So I had only Polo shirts and jeans. Those were all my clothes. And so I said to him, I don't spend money on clothes, put zero for that column.

Beatriz Acevedo: I love that.

Elias Torres: And you know what, to be transparent, when I got that call, it was before I left IBM to do startups, but I already had a master's degree from Harvard University. And I lived at home with my wife, and I kind of had read, heard maybe a little bit of a Dave Ramsey podcast or something like that. And so I knew I needed some savings, like a three month or a six month emergency, but for one reason or another, I just couldn't save it. You know, three children at home, my wife's staying at home with the kids full time, school work, a household. And that's how I left to start working with David Cancel. That was kind of like my financial state at that moment.

Beatriz Acevedo: Right. And it's exactly what you're saying. I mean, what we're doing now, I wish I had that. And maybe there's financial advisors in Mexico, I'm sure there are. But the systems are so different, you know, with how you can really save here and things are insured here. I remember how my parents lost everything in a peso devaluation when I was a kid, and supposedly their money was insured and it was in U. S. dollars, and that disappeared overnight. It was like, oh, there's no more dollars in Mexico, sorry. So I think that traumatic experiences still stay with you. So for us, what we're trying to do is really democratize who has access to a financial advisor. So with what we have with our app, which is a hundred percent free, total plug. But it's free, so I'm not sad to plug it. You get those insights exactly the same. Like how much are you spending. We'll do a checkup. We call it a financial limpia. Not with sage, not with an egg, but with data science, we'll take a look at how your finances are, and we'll give you an assessment. Listen, here, you're a bit off. Here, you're good. This, you have to échale mas ganas. But we'll coach you every day with AI- enabled insight. And we'll tell you, know, too many tacos, Elias, this weekend. You're off your budget, so maybe tomorrow hay comida en la casa. Make your cafecito at home, here's a video here. So it feels like it's almost like a family member coaching you, like it's your abuelita's voice or your mama, they would've been financially savvy, cheering you along the way. There's never a shame on what you haven't done well. So, you know, it happens. We go out and we eat more tacos, or we drink more tequila, especially if you're young. But there's ways to sort of correct that and stay on track. And so that's what we're trying to build here and to scale that. Because how many financial advisors could we have for our 20 million Latinos in our community here? So we're trying, at least every day, get those 24 hours a day coaching on your phone. Something that gets to really know you, they know the things you like, the things that you don't, how do you adjust. So we think that's a pretty innovative way to be able to support our community. And the business model is via an enterprise model. So we're working with a ton of financial brands from Morgan Stanley, Chase, Wells Fargo, Fidelity. I mean, there's a long list of how they are supporting our community with something that we're calling a wealth building membership, for example. So to our community, it's free, and to employers or to brands that want to connect to our community. They're the ones who are supporting our work for our community to be able to take advantage of all this free coaching.

Elias Torres: I love that. And by the way, I need an abuelita, a grandmother, telling me not to eat the tacos. Maybe not for finance reasons, but maybe I need to not eat the tacos.

Beatriz Acevedo: No, but you know what? Tacos are very healthy. The tortilla's gluten free. It has protein. If you put the guacamole, although we all we know it's extra, that's good fat. So I think food in our community is good. And I have to say, even though you maybe overpaid for that DoorDash delivery, hopefully you're supporting a small business owner. That's how I feel. I'm like, listen, I ordered tortillas via Instacart, and it pains me because I don't have time to go to my favorite local tortilleria, but now they have them on the app, and I'm like, you know what? I'm still supporting somebody in the communidad, so I'm fine with it.

Elias Torres: Yeah, it was the driver, and it's the local taqueria. He wasn't like some...

Beatriz Acevedo: You see, so that's all good.

Elias Torres: And by the way, that financial advisor, you know what he told me? He hung up, left me, and said, dude, you don't have any money. There's no money for me to manage here for you.

Beatriz Acevedo: That's ridiculous. If we send our community to these financial advisors, they'd be like, well, you know... I've heard some who are Latinos who are like, well, listen, I start at a million dollars in net worth. I'm like, well, who am I going to send you? Not to say that there's not Latinos that have a million dollars or more.

Elias Torres: Yeah, no, I agree.

Beatriz Acevedo: But you know, the people who really need it. I mean, we need to use technology at least to get them on their way. And you know, I'm always a big fan of the Little Mermaid strategy. We had our CRO at Mitú who always said that," Fish where the fish are." And so people are on their phone, right. So make that sort of like voice of financial wisdom or coaching come from their phone, and at least get them going. Of course, eventually they'll be able to be able to find a live financial advisor if they want to. I mean, all of the tech is powered by real financial advisors anyway. If they do want to, that's fine. But I think that at least now it gets them on their way in a free way, in a scalable way. Because I do think that, back to my co- founder, Xavier, who was like, I know that you're such an enthusiast of philanthropy, and representation, and Latinos on boards, and all this stuff. But until we have economic power, we're never going to have true power in this country. And the more I thought of, as harsh as it sounds, because it sounds horrible. But I think about entertainment industry, right? If we were like the Jewish community who were able to fund our movies and our shows and buy our networks, we'd be in a very different place when it comes to representation. If you think about venture capital, if we had our own funds and our own LPs and our own Ps. I mean, there's some Latinos who have them. But we'd be in a very different place as well. As capitalist as it sounds, of like no power without economic power, there's some truth to it. So I do think that it's very, very critical. And you know, obviously we read all of this of Latinos being the most entrepreneurial, and sometimes maybe it's by necessity, right? Like me, people are like, how did you become an entrepreneur? I'm like, oh, when I got fired from my job and I had no other alternative. But also, the lack of access to capital is a real problem. And let's talk about the 2% that do get funding. The 2% that do get funding probably grew up in a household like you or I where the sobremesa was not talking about building wealth. I'm married to a non- Latino who grew up in Boston and his dad gave him stock since he was eight years old for his birthday. My dad never, even if he could afford the stock. There was never a conversation about that. So the 2% of the Latinos who do run their companies probably could also use better coaching in their personal finances. And if you're not set on your personal finances, it's hard to also translate that to your own company. So I think it's super, super critical that we get this information and resources out to as many people as we possibly can.

Elias Torres: This is of utmost importance, I think. It could help... Finance is just one of the most stressful things that people have to do in their lives. It affects so much. I would extend that this, without trying to go deep here, like too deep, but it goes beyond knowing what a 401k knows. It's being able to teach people about happiness, and how to spend, where to spend for you to be happy. And then how to be savvy is the next step. How to grow. We make poor decisions because we don't understand really what's right, what's happiness, or what's right for us at that moment. I don't know. It's a difficult subject. But in some ways, it's kind of like my mother... I don't know if I have great teeth really; had a lot of cavities at one time. That's another story for another day. But people say for your health, for your mouth, all that stuff, it's so important for your rest of your body to feel well. I think finance is close to that level.

Beatriz Acevedo: Absolutely.

Elias Torres: I love the parallel thing to the Jewish community, and the success they have, and the power, and I was...

Beatriz Acevedo: And the support. You know, my husband is Jewish, and I see it so often. People are like, oh, it's one of us, it's someone from the inaudible. That's amazing. And I see that in our community, at least, I think, in the older generations. I'm hopeful that the younger generations are going to have less of our scarcity mentality that I see in the older generations. People have worked so hard to get on that public board, that they're mortified for somebody younger to come in and take their place, even if it's a Latino. For me, I'm like, the moment I got to give up these seats, which I'm happy to give up, that's my time. You know, you want the younger blood, the different perspectives, the different insights to come in here. I think that the younger generations have grown up with a little bit less of that scarcity than we did, and hopefully they'll be more community inclusive, and really understand the power of collective impact. On your own, for sure, you're able to get so far. But collectively, there is no question. We've seen it so much, that one plus one is more than two. And I think that is exactly what we still haven't quite gotten right in our community. We have so much power, we're represented in the numbers, our GDP's so extraordinary. We all know the stats, but as far as really pulling together and saying, we're there for this one cause, we're really showing up, we're really using our voice to call out what's not right, or what it is, and applaud what is right. We haven't gotten there. So I do think that we have a ton of learning. Whether it's the Jewish community, the Black community, I mean, there's so many other communities that have just figured out a way to do it better than we.

Elias Torres: Long story, but I happen to be reading Martin Luther King letters from Birmingham Jail. Have you read that?

Beatriz Acevedo: No.

Elias Torres: Yeah. It was super, super powerful and moving. There's a quote in there that MLK says that," A group that has the privilege is not voluntarily going to give that privilege up." And you call it capitalistic. I don't know, call me bad, I don't care what we call it. The truth is that until we exercise our power and we unify... I mean, we're already pretty big in this country. But until we really understand the problem is that we have so many different countries and we're all like, you know, I'm going to say this ugly phrase that sometimes people say about Latinos, which is, we're like crabs in a barrel, and not understand that need model, how do we help one another. What you're doing is to combat that, and to show that you could be retired, you could be relaxed, you go to a couple board meetings. But your passion is educating us and how to go and do better. And so I think that we need to keep educating, we need to keep saving, but there's going to be a reckoning where we are going to keep growing and the financial power that we're going to have needs to be harnessed to the betterment of this community.

Beatriz Acevedo: Absolutely.

Elias Torres: That's where this goes to. So your paving the way is going to take us time, because it takes generations. But we're here, we're part of this country, and we love it.

Beatriz Acevedo: No, but you're paving the way. I mean, there's so many Latinos paving the way. I mean, you've done so much, just even as a role model, for other founders of what's possible, which that is incredible. I know by default we're going to get there, like to your point with the economic power. And we'll eventually be those COs making those decisions in most, just by default. Look at the numbers, look at the births of kids who are already majority Gen Alphas. We'll eventually get there, but we still, you know, we really... I don't know. To your point of the letter that you're writing and talking a little bit about privilege. I really feel that if you've had the privilege to be that 2%, that somehow we can never get past that 2% in everything, but if you are in those places of power as a Latino, not as a white person, you have the responsibility to open the doors for everyone else. You are there and you can't just sit there( beep) comfortably. You can't. I know there's some that do, but that's not okay. What's going to happen when you die? Then you didn't leave anybody in the bench? You didn't leave our community set up to replace you and everybody else? I'm always raising my hand, and I know you are, too. And I know a lot of Latino leaders, this is their life's work. But we need everybody with that mindset. We need everybody. It's not like foreign language, that little saying of like, no, there's room for all of us, there really is. And we have to just be uncomfortable pushing for it. Sometimes, it's easy to be like, oh, I'm the only Latina on this board, and look at all these celebs or incredible iconic people, I'm just going to keep quiet. No, you still raise your hand and ask for where are the other Latinos. It's not good enough for you to be the only person there. It's not good enough for you to be the only one getting the funding, or you being the only one invited to these transformational events that nobody else gets an opportunity. I deny speaking at events when there's no other Latino. I deny doing so many things where I'm just like, no, no, unless you include more people from our community. I want to look at your portfolio. I want to see who else you're funding. I want to know where your values are. We have the power to do that. But I think until we believe it, we're not going to get too far, sadly. But hopefully there's enough of us that are pushing on the right way.

Elias Torres: There is that border hustle there coming up. Amazing, amazing things. You're bringing up la lucha. We're going to keep going. I want to keep... I need to follow up with you in some ways, because I think we have to keep talking about how do we unify the community, where we need to be investing, and how can we be allies. I really want to learn... It's about education, like you said. I need to learn. We should write this, and post it, and spread it through our community. Because you know, in some ways it's not that large in tech, or at least say, if we all respond this way, we'll have more power and force this conversation. If we advertise this and say, you're going to invite us, invite more than one. You're going to do this, do this. I think there's something there to educate ourselves because sometimes I don't even know what the right thing is. I'll give you a story. I love your feedback on this. A man mentioned something... I'll do this. A white man mentioned something that hires underrepresented people in the business. And I see this a lot. We will have a white male, maybe white female, that employing people. And they're trying, legitimately, and saying this is a good thing. But the problem is that that person is the one profiting from the work. And so I'm trying to write and think about suggestions to teach the world what would be better. Is it better to go fund a black Latino CEO founder to serve that community? To serve the community, the customers. Or, to hire those people for the services so they can create generational wealth? Do we support them? Do we work for them? Do we make it a nonprofit, and then we can trust that you are hiring the people for their benefit? I feel like because people are all trying to help, and especially supporters from the White community, and they do not know. They say those things that they don't know sometimes turn us off more, than turning us on. And so we give some guidance. This is something that happened this weekend recently and it's fresh on my mind.

Beatriz Acevedo: Yeah. I'm a big... Just to the point you made, Elias. I'm a big believer in definitely putting funding into our communities more than... I mean, I think hiring them is great, and training them. And it's a stepping stone for sure. But it's black and Latina women who are launching more companies than anyone in this country, but they are the ones who get the least amount of capital to grow the companies. There's the data that they're going to hire people from within those communities, that they're going to have the most diverse C- suite executives. So all the problems that we're talking about would disappear if we would fund them and if we would invest in them. I do think that when we say funding, it goes beyond the money. We have a program here in LA called the Founders Fund where my own foundation is involved in, along with the Annenberg Foundation and the city of LA, and we have a lot of allies of every color, every background. We give non- dilutive capital to primarily Latino and black entrepreneurs in the city. But beyond the capital, we give them a three month training program with the top CEOs from their industries. That goes a long way, because the capital is there, but we also need the mentorship. We also need the resources. We need those quote unquote Rolodexes, which are now Google contacts, right? Who's opening those doors? Who's making that phone call and saying, let me introduce you to the procurement head at Target who I know? Or to this other venture capital firm that has invested in me, and I think, you know, I'll invest in you and have them invest in you. That's how you could be an ally. That's how we really build generational wealth, I think. We've seen how in the city of LA, we barely had 2% of the funding from venture capital going into black and Latino founders. And now after a few years, not that we're there, but we're at 8%. But when you're talking about like$ 15 billion, it's transformational, the change from two to eight. We are a majority city, city of color in Los Angeles. So our hope is that we get to that parity one day. But I do think that aside of the number, aside of the money that we can give them, it's giving them the opportunities that we've all had, and that now we can pass onto that next generation and to those entire communities. So I do think that there's something there that's measurable. You know, that ROI is very trackable, not just within how big their companies will eventually be and what X they could be. But how are they transforming communities? There's a study that was done here in LA, and also with kids in tech. I think we have to really get our kids into tech. Not that you have to be an engineer. You could be a community manager, and now it's one of the most coveted jobs when it comes to Web3. You could be a designer. People think, oh, okay, tech, I have to be an engineer. Amazing if you are, but it's also possible to get a job if you are not. And the amount of money, at least in LA in a study that they've done for the past decade, is a million dollars additional from a kid who works in tech, than one that doesn't in their productive career. But a million dollars is transformational for our families, right, if one family member gets to that number. So I think there's a few things that we could do to inspire our community, to get them closer to the jobs of the future, to getting the funding, to getting the mentorship that we're not doing that proactively today. More than a DEI initiative that comes once a year on Hispanic heritage month, which absolutely drives me insane.

Elias Torres: I thank you so much for your passion, your devotion, the energy that you're spending in this problem in our community. I'm starting to get older, and I need to start thinking about things that have more impact in learning what the community needs. Blending my experience and seeing you in action is awesome. I definitely going to have to figure how to follow up because there's a lot of questions I have about LA. It's interesting, right. I lived in LA for two years when I was young, when I was 11 years old. South Gate, California.

Beatriz Acevedo: We have a lot of founders from South Gate.

Elias Torres: Really? Wow. So this is very important.

Beatriz Acevedo: It's very exciting to see. The talent is everywhere. And they come from community colleges. Some of them are foster youth. Some of them... It doesn't need to be cookie cutter. I mean, it's amazing, and it's such a sense of pride when I see founders like you that are at Harvard and Stanford. But we have some founders here doing incredible things who all they could afford was a community college, and they still have that hustle, that drive, that insight of what their community needs, and they're building it. So it's very exciting to see that as well.

Elias Torres: Don't offend me, I'm state school educated in Tampa, Florida.

Beatriz Acevedo: Love it. Love it. No, no, but I'm excited that you have both. But some people are, you know... You go to a community college, that's the last kid they have on recruiter' lists. They go to the bottom of the pile. We want to encourage people to say, take a closer look. There is a lot of talent there.

Elias Torres: Education is no longer... That type of education is no longer a requirement, especially in tech. I'm a big bias. So in tech, you can learn how to program on your own on the internet, and build amazing things. So the internet has made it a much level playing ground, but people need to know that it's possible.

Beatriz Acevedo: That's it. And that's why we need people like you to be that inspiration, that face, that motivation for the next gen, right? Like if you could do it, they could do it. They see themselves represented in you, and I think that's incredibly powerful legacy that you are already going to be living behind. But I'll hit you up for a few opportunities.

Elias Torres: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much for what you're doing, not just being here on this podcast today. Thanks for listening to the American Dream podcast. Make sure to hit subscribe so you never miss when a new episode drops. If you like this episode, please leave a six star review wherever you listen to your podcast.

DESCRIPTION

"Until we have economic power, we'll never have true power in this country."

While it sounds harsh, Beatriz Acevedo, the co-founder and CEO of SUMA Wealth - a financial technology company devoted to increasing prosperity, opportunity, and financial inclusion for young, U.S. Latinos - believes it's the reality for Latinx in the United States today.

In this episode of The American Dream, Beatriz and Elias discuss why there's still such a financial knowledge gap for Latinx in the United States, how the power of community will help bridge the inequality gap among underrepresented groups, and why you should always order the tacos.

Key Moments:

  • (1:38) Beatriz’s background in media
  • (3:58) The “Border Girl” hustle
  • (7:42) What is SUMA Wealth?
  • (14:00) Beatriz’s own financial journey
  • (19:08) Elias’ financial journey
  • (22:20) The SUMA mission
  • (24:49) Eat the tacos
  • (25:34) The need to make financial wisdom accessible
  • (27:19) Economic power is the way to break into societal power
  • (29:21) What having financial knowledge really means
  • (31:34) The power of collective impact
  • (38:02) How to figure out what the “right thing to do” is
  • (45:00) The importance of employing people

Like this episode? Leave a review!