34 Financial Consultant – AXA Advisors LLC, New York City
For hot up-and-coming performers hypnotized by the “bling-bling” and “katching” of their newfound success, Christephor Lee Jones, financial analyst at AXA Advisors in New York, City, has some sobering advice: Have a financial plan in place to make your money last.
The history of the entertainment industry is replete with African-American entertainers who had successful careers and ended up dying broke, says Jones, 34. His client roster includes professionals at all levels of the entertainment field. “Just because you’re wealthy, doesn’t mean you are educated about financial concepts,” says Jones, who is also an accountant and tax specialist. “Many times, when you come from nothing, you’re really not sophisticated and educated about money. And in the entertainment industry, you have a certain amount of peer pressure [to maintain the same material standards] as those around you.”
Growing up on the mean streets of East New York, Brooklyn, Jones says, his life could easily have taken a different turn. With the support of his mother and family, however, he went on to graduate from Norfolk State University with a degree in accounting in 1994. He gained solid tax and accounting experience at financial powerhouses KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and AXA Advisors. In 1999, he was certified as an enrolled tax agent to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. In 2004, AXA recognized his performance as being in the top 10 percent for the entire company.
Jones says his clients range from those with a seven-figure net worth to those with no net worth, and for both he tries to create the elements of a firm financial plan—low debt, savings, and risk management, which includes life insurance, health insurance and disability insurance. He also tries to create a familylike atmosphere for his clients, including having a healthy database of contacts to refer them to, no matter what their need.
Jones regularly speaks at many inner-city schools about the importance of financial literacy. “Financial literacy in our communities starts with educating our youth and never ends. It’s about education and spreading the information,” he says.