It’s not every day that you get to sit down with a financial expert and learn from them—that’s why it’s so exciting to have Brigitte Morrow Killings, Divisional Director of the South Division for JPMorgan Chase, here to break down banking for us and share tips for Black women entrepreneurs.
While born in Germany, she was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and has been in the banking and finance industry for nearly 30 years. For the past 15 years, she’s focused on building programs to increase the financial health and wellness of low to moderate customers as well as underserved minority communities at all income levels. Initially introduced to the banking industry by her recently deceased and beloved stepfather, Dr. Edward Irons, he encouraged her to pursue a career in banking while pushing her to do her best and to help others.
Check out her responses to these 5 questions.
Can you explain what exactly community banking is and what it brings to a community?
At JPMorgan Chase, ‘community banking’ stems from our 5-year, $30 Billion Racial Equity Commitment, which focuses on helping Black, Hispanic and Latino people boost their financial health, become homeowners, and own and grow their businesses.
As part of this commitment, we’ve hired 150 Community Managers throughout the country who are based at our nearly 300 designated community branches. And while they work at a community branch, they spend much of their time in the community engaging with local organizations, including non-profits and for-profits, teaching financial literacy. Our community branches are designed to host clients and local
partners for workshops on topics like budgeting, building credit, homeownership, small business and investing – all geared to help close the racial equity gap for our Black and Brown community.
What are 3 key things Black women need to know to build wealth?
The first thing is that it’s never too late– or too early – to start. Second, building wealth does not require you to be wealthy to begin with. The important thing is to start by saving and investing any amount, even if it’s $1,000 or less. Third, make a plan. Without a plan, it’s difficult to understand what’s needed to reach your goal – and it’s also a great way to keep yourself accountable.
What are some common financial challenges faced by Black women?
Black women face financial challenges both professionally and personally. Professionally, we’re still substantially underpaid. On average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Black women were paid 58% of what non-Hispanic White men were paid in 2020. We also experience a significant wider pay gap along with Latinas and Native women, among all women. Also, a high percentage of Black women are the head of their households and raise families on a single income. Often, Black women are also the single provider in ‘the sandwich generation,’ providing for kids and parents
What resources does Chase offer for entrepreneurs, specifically Black woman entrepreneurs?
We have a growing number of Senior Business Consultants across the country that mentor Black and Brown small business owners. We began this program in 2020 and since then, we’ve mentored more than 2,600 minority business owners, providing free educational content, resources and advice to help them achieve their business goals. This program is open to any minority small business owner – being or becoming a Chase customer is not a requirement.
What financial resources do you recommend most to your clients? How can these resources help Black women thrive financially?
Chase offers Credit Journey – a free tool to monitor and improve your credit score with round-the-clock customer support and identity monitoring. Your credit score is essentially a report card that tells the story on how you manage your finances and can serve as a determining factor in purchasing a home, obtaining a business loan and even getting a job. Additionally, Chase offers Autosave, which allows you to transfer money from your Chase checking to your Chase savings account automatically – choose when, how often and what amount to transfer, then simply set it and forget it. Autosave is a great tool to help grow savings and set aside an emergency fund for life’s unexpected surprises.
Click here to learn more about community banking and the work Brigitte does at JPMorgan Chase.