By Grace Austin

People often feel uncomfortable with the topic of investing. Yet we all need to understand investing, if only to know what’s going on with our 401(k) or retirement plan. Investment can also be a relevant career field to many people who are unemployed or students looking for a new career field.

Zolio, a new online trading program which offers tools to educate young investors on the opportunity to become investment managers, believes that investing is a skill that can aid everyone, and even be a relevant career path for others.

Zolio’s founder, Olive Darragh, wanted to create an opportunity to showcase skills regardless of race, background, or school affiliation that would open doors for aspiring investors to be recognized by top financial firms. It was also important to create a no-risk yet valuable learning opportunity that works for and resonates with target populations.
Zolio is a natural segue from a twenty plus-year career in the asset management industry, where Darragh’s focus was on strategic growth and talent management. Darragh co-created and then led the investment management practice as a director of global consulting firm McKinsey. She then spent six years as a partner at a leading hedge fund where she led strategy and talent management, and worked extensively on portfolio management recruiting.

One of the key focal points for Zolio will be reaching out to women and minority communities, particularly, African Americans, said Darragh. Researchers have found that African Americans save and invest less money than whites, but the debut of an online platform combining investing with education, and targeting young African Americans, is significant.
One finding in a 2010 study conducted by Argosy Research, commissioned by Ariel Investments, LLC and The Charles Schwab Corporation, states, “For the first time in the survey’s twelve-year history, more African Americans chose stocks and stock mutual funds as the ‘best investment overall,’ relative to real estate.”

Zolio hopes to capitalize on these findings, leading more African Americans to the site and potential profits.
Zolio’s mission is to give all aspiring young investors the chance to discover their investment talent, as well as give them the opportunity to prove and showcase this talent to the broader industry. Zolio believes that results should be viewed for their own merit, blind to demographics or background.

“Actions and results speak louder than words or résumés,” says Darragh. “Zolio is an opportunity for those with talent and determination to act and get results. We are helping level the playing field; it’s up to young people of all types to play on that field.”