Money pioneer Saundra Davis opens up about race,
the wealth gap, and what real change takes.

written by Bari Tessler May 22, 2019
Money pioneer Saundra Davis opens up about race, the wealth gap, and what real change takes.

Today I have the honor of introducing you to a true money pioneer: Saundra Davis.

While a lot of the financial world is riddled with judgmental, “tough love” approaches, Saundra and I are kindred spirits in ushering in a new wave of compassion, gentleness, and unshaming in this area of life.

I met Saundra almost 15 years ago at a meeting of Financial Planners. We were some of the only women in the room — and she was the only woman of color there. We talked chocolate and money and emotional literacy … and I’ve been a fan of hers ever since.

Saundra is a smart cookie and deeply spiritual woman. I’m so grateful she was willing to talk so directly and gracefully about some of the ways money is impacted by being black — particularly being a black woman.

Over the years, I have interviewed many women pioneers in the Financial Coaching and Financial Therapy world, including Olivia Mellan, Vicki Robin, Karen McCall, Deborah Price, and Barbara Stanny. But at some point, I realized: these were all white women.

I had a similarly embarrassing moment about six years ago, when I created my first Money Memoir series, in which I interviewed people from all different backgrounds about their personal Money Stories. I aimed for as much diversity as possible, and was able to welcome people of different ages, sexualities, and financial backgrounds — but it was still mostly white.

I committed then and there to creating the kind of inclusive interview series I wanted to see more of in the world. I’ve made it a priority to make my Money Memoir series and Art of Money Guest Teachers more inclusive and diverse. I know I still have my blindspots, but I’m committed to working on them — and to bringing more voices and perspectives to my community.

It was an honor to interview Saundra and to share important the work she’s doing in the world. After our interview, she sent me this note:

“I so appreciate your willingness to grapple with race, equity, and connection. I felt heard during our interview.”

I am very grateful for her trust in me. And I’m so thrilled to share her voice, her work, and her beautiful spirit with you!

Hear my wise and wonderful conversation with money pioneer Saundra Davis.

We discuss:

  • How she found herself in a brand-new profession (Financial Planning) at 44.
  • Why she decided personal finance was THE way she could make real change, particularly in the black community.
  • How she brings the intuitive, spiritual side of her life into money coaching.
  • Intersectionality, the income and wealth gaps, how the women’s movement has been different for black women, and the problem with summits.
  • What everyone can do to support diversity.
  • Why money is so much more complicated than “if you know better, you do better” and how that impacts the coaches she trains.

Saundra also shared some zingers and one liners like … “I did what made my heart beat fast, and eventually I made a living out of it.” “Without context, people go to shame.” “Spiritual is who I am; finance is what I know.”

This conversation was SO good. Do yourself a favor and soak up some wisdom from Saundra. You’ll walk away more informed and inspired.

Saundra Davis is a financial coach, educator, consultant and motivational speaker who is nationally recognized for her work with community-based organizations that focus on asset building for the working poor. She is the executive director and founder of Sage Financial Solutions, an organization which bridges the gap between financial services professions and low-wealth communities. They believe that everyone needs and deserves access to competent, ethical financial services and so we provide support to community based organizations (CBOs) and financial life skills programs for low-wealth individuals.

Saundra was instrumental in the development of the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment’s Smart Money Network and is a co-founder of EARN’s work in financial coaching. She has collaborated with several organizations to develop and expand their financial capability projects and provides technical assistance and capacity building to support new and expanded financial education and coaching programs.

Saundra is the Past-President of the Financial Therapy Association and is active in the Financial Planning Association (FPA) San Francisco Chapter Pro Bono Committee. She has served on the FPA Pro Bono National Advisory Committee the Diversity Task Force. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Heart of Financial Planning award and the Pro Bono Planner of the Year.

Find Saundra on Facebook and Instagram.

With my dearest wishes,

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