There’s no shortage of conversation about ways to address racial inequities in wealth. But three years ago, Trevor Rozier-Byrd realized while working at Boston financial services firm State Street that he might have a promising approach: Harness the stock market.
“When you take a step back ... and really truly think about how people in this country build wealth, you need to have access to passive streams of income that are going to compound over time,” he said.
He fully understood the challenges that exist within the Black community that tend to keep people from investing.
“I felt like I was sitting on just a ton of knowledge and information about how powerful the financial markets actually are,” Rozier-Byrd said.
In 2020, he founded Stackwell Capital, a Boston-based financial tech company designed to help the Black community build generational wealth through the stock market.
This week, the firm raised $3.5 million from a who’s who list of investors. The funding round was led by Michael Gordon, president of Fenway Sports Group; Jeremy Sclar, chief executive and chairman of WS Development; and The Kraft Group. The deal included other familiar names in the Boston business scene, including Sam Kennedy, chief executive of the Red Sox; former US senator William “Mo” Cowan; and Corey Thomas, chief executive of Rapid7.
The money will be used to launch Stackwell’s investing app, which is in beta testing, this fall.
Stackwell offers automated investing portfolios, which are matched to a user’s financial objectives. This is intended to encourage long-term wealth building, rather than do-it-yourself approaches.
“This is not a get-rich-quick type of offering,” said Omosefe Aiyevbomwan, vice president of product at Stackwell.
The company also publishes educational content and uses behavioral science-based nudges to help people achieve their investing goals. Users pay a $1 monthly subscription to use the service, which has a $10 investment minimum.
Rozier-Byrd said the product targets first-time Black investors, as well as those who might have had a “start and stop” experience.
“We have seen examples of, certainly during the pandemic, first-time investors that have come to the market, they got meme socks, they got crypto,” he said. “They want to invest in the market, but they’re looking for more sustainable solutions.”
Stackwell is designed for Black investors, but Rozier-Byrd said it addresses challenges that other races and communities face, too. Anyone can sign up to use the service, he said.
While other FinTech products may target younger people or the lower socioeconomic demographic, Aiyevbomwan said Stackwell is laser-focused on the Black community. It has a deep understanding based on market research and personal experiences.
So, what barriers keep Black people from investing? Aiyevbomwan said it’s a combination of things.
Some people lack guidance from family members and don’t know where to start, or they might lack a financial safety net, keeping them from taking risks.
“You talk to people and they will say, ‘Well, I’m not from money, so therefore I can’t participate in financial markets,’ ” she said. “They believe that you have to have a lot of knowledge and investment acumen to be here and be successful.”
It’s early, but Rozier-Byrd said Stackwell is working on several strategic partnerships and plans to complete another financing round by the end of the year. Long term, Rozier-Byrd said, Stackwell wants to become the “end-to-end” financial services company for the Black community.