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The Data Possible Podcast

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Financial Services

Guests: Bryan Lee and Amalia Tsiongas from Ethnic Technologies

Summary: In this episode of The Data Possible Podcast, Bryan Lee, Senior Sales Manager, and Amalia Tsiongas, Director of Research and Product Development, from Ethnic Technologies discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) data and how to use it to strengthen client advisor relationships and communities in the industry.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The importance of diversity and inclusion in financial services
  • Why organizations should be making D&I a part of their strategic priority
  • What types of firms are using D&I data
  • Best practices for D&I data and how to make the best use of it

Resources: Discovery Data | Ethnic Technologies

The Data Possible Podcast is produced by our partner, Advisorpedia.

Podcast Transcription:

Doug: Hello and welcome to The Data Possible Podcast presented by Discovery Data. This is your host, Doug Heikkinen. Today we welcome Bryan Lee and Amalia Tsiongas from Ethnic Technologies. Ethnic Technologies learns about the world's cultures and languages through people's names. They've been around since 1997, where they've been an asset to multicultural marketing by leading in-depth research in the field of names and cultures. Welcome to the podcast guys.

Amalia: Thanks for having us.

Bryan: Thanks for having us, Doug.

Doug: Amalia, tell us about Ethnic Technologies, and the type of data you provide to people.

Amalia: Sure, so as you correctly stated Ethnic Technologies was founded in 1997. We're the industry leader in multicultural marketing data and we license our software driven demographic data to major marketing providers and category leaders. Our flagship product is ethnicity, but we also provide a number of related demographic insights including gender, assimilation, and cultural religion.

Doug: Your data uses a predictive algorithm. Can you provide some insight on how the algorithm works and the accuracy within the fields and the results?

Amalia: Absolutely. So E-Tech is our predictive software that's driven by over 40 years of independent research into the ethnic and geographic origins of names. Each piece of a person's name is evaluated from their first name, middle name, last name, even pieces of names and initials, for ties to cultural heritage. And at that point, if the name pieces are still ambiguous, then the name intelligence will be cross referenced against high level geo data at the zip plus four level. This unique name-based approach means that no personally identifiable information ever has to be used beyond an individual's name, and zip plus four. And individuals with less common names or who live outside of ethnic enclaves can still be correctly identified as one of over 180 different ethnicities. To your question about accuracy, and addition to my team's rigorous testing that we do quarterly, Bryan can provide an example of how we work closely with our clients to monitor accuracy at an individual level.

Bryan: So we have this one client that you may know, it's a religious organization known for visiting people door to door. And some of their congregations specifically cater to the foreign language community. And we have worked with them in the past, and they reported back to us that they were extremely satisfied. As a matter of fact, we're certain ethnicities that were over 94% accurate. So this was actually a door to door visited and validated results. So we're pretty confident about the accuracy of our data.

Doug: Great, Bryan, what are some of the best practices around the use of diversity and inclusion data? And how can clients make the best use of it?

Bryan: Well, so many companies have found that by using diversity and inclusion data, they're able to explore the unconscious biases that people or their organizations may have and rewrite the unwritten rules that measure team performances. And also having such data can help companies keep a close pulse on their communities, which is extremely important, especially for the financial services sector, in terms of best practices, first it starts with embedding D&I into the culture throughout the organization. And this can be done by defining what is D&I for each organization and make that part of the onboarding and the recruitment efforts, and then incorporate D&I into performance management aspects. Then the second part is continuing to improve the impact of D&I and to performance management practices as well. And this can be done by having a team dedicated to D&I if their budget allows and engaging with experts in the community and build continuous educational program into each employee’s development plan. And lastly, they should focus on short term and long-term goals. And this will ensure that the D&I is not just another phrase that you have in your website, but something that becomes relevant in your organization.

Doug: Bryan, what types of clients are using this level of insight?

Bryan: You know what Doug; I will say about more than 90% of fortune 500 companies are utilizing diversity and inclusion data for both internally and for outside marketing at the moment. And over the past few years in those organizations having diversity in the workplace has become as common as offering health insurance. And the latest survey done by Society for Human Resource Management found a close to 60% of all major recruiters put focus on attracting diverse candidates.

Doug: So once they get this level of insight, what are some of the initiatives you're seeing your clients use the data for? And what are the benefits they're getting?

Bryan: So, as previously mentioned, embracing diversity and inclusion is becoming a must for any organization at this point. And after serving over 250 different executives for different brands, we found that the highest growing brands are committed to achieving meaningful outcomes with diversity and inclusion across all of their areas of influence, their workforce, their marketplace and society, in ways that their underperforming competitors really do not. And they measure their D&I efforts more holistically, and they do it more often than their peers. They focus D&I on talent acquisition and retention, messaging of their brands, as well as community investment. And this is especially more important with brands that are engaging with the Zoomer generation, an overwhelming 94% of that generation expects companies to take a stand on important social issues. And 90% say that they're much more willing to purchase products or obtain services that are deemed beneficial to the society. But at the same time, creating loyalty with this generation is not so simple, because they're very savvy. And if they noticed that certain brands aren't making genuine efforts to embrace the D&I values, then they will quickly lose interest. And this trend will continue as the shape of our society is changing where we see the decline in white population, and Hispanics and Asians are the ones driving the population growth. And the LGBTQ identity has risen from about 3.5% to close to five and a half percent in the past 10 years. So we feel that any organization should be putting D&I as part of their strategic priority.

Doug: Amalia, when you're looking through all these stats and trends, have there been things that surprised you with the dataset?

Amalia: That's a great question, Doug. So absolutely. And one of the things that's fascinating is some of the trends that jump out, that might seem surprising, or unusual, at first, usually have some sort of explanation behind them. For example, immigrant groups, tend to focus on saving in order to get ahead and build a better future for their children. And this might explain why, in financial advisor datasets, we tend to see East Asian groups such as Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese, all overrepresented by about 20 to 50%. Asian Indians as well by about 30%. And Nigerians are even higher. And these are increases that actually carry over to native language speakers as well.

Doug: Bryan, why is this data so important to use in the financial services industry and how does your partnership with Discovery Data make it accessible?

Bryan: Well, I like to tell the story about the importance of diversity in the financial services. When I first got into sales, I used to work for a large payment processing company. And at that time, our New York office was located near the UN building. And there was a frame shop across the street looking down from our office. And for many years, every salesperson has tried to get the owner of that frame shop to switch their payment processor over to us. And he has refused to switch over even when lucrative pricing was given and many benefits and got to the point where that our boss had put a $2,500 signing bonus for any salesperson who can close that location. And this was 20 years ago, so that was a lot of money back then. So after about a week or so I walked into the store and I heard the owner speaking Korean on the phone, but he quickly hung up thinking that I was a customer. So I apologize in Korean and I told him the reason for my visit. And within 15 minutes, I was out with the signed contract. And a week later, I got the $2,500 signing bonus. So later on, I asked him what made him sign with us when we've been trying for years, his answer was shockingly simple, that I was the first person, a salesperson that spoke his language. And when it comes to money, I think people have the most rational and irrational reasons for doing things. And sometimes just because someone speaks your language and understand your culture, you all of a sudden get this urge to open up your wallet. And this can translate to the trust that people are willing to put bestow upon someone from their own ethnic background, and the organization that you represent. And this is far more common, especially in the financial services. And growing up as an immigrant child myself. And I understand the hardships that my parents went through, which is similar to one many people in my background and their parents went through as well. So having that same understanding allows people to easily open up their money or their bank account, or whatever it is that they provide. And they trust us. At the same time, those that work in the financial services feel the responsibility to represent their clients best interest, and their communities as well. So this usually leads to long term engagement and loyalty with their clients. And even though I'm no longer working for that payment processing company, and the owner of the shop has passed the ownership to someone else, I was told that they continue to utilize my previous employer for their payment processing needs. So with E-Tech’s proprietary solution, we're able to add valuable diversity data into Discovery Data's pool of financial advisors. And we've been triple validated the accuracy over six months, and we found them to be highly accurate. And we firmly believe that any financial services institution looking for a new financial advisor should be using the diversity data at this point. And we can confidently say that it's going to bring nothing but benefits when they incorporate D&I data. So in conclusion, I just want to reiterate what someone told me at a Marketing Conference, which I found to be very true. In a pasta dish, D&I was the parsley or the grated parmesan 10 years ago, and now it's the tomato sauce.

Doug: Well, that's great. I love the story and so much about financial services is about comfort. And with America changing at the rate it is, financial services can certainly take heed and use your guys’ services. Bryan, Amalia, really interesting stuff. Thank you so much for joining us.

Amalia: Thank you, Doug.

Bryan: Thank you, Doug.

Doug: To learn more about Ethnic Technologies, please visit For everybody at Discovery Data and The Data Possible Podcast team, we thank you for joining us.