From High School Intern to Entrepreneur: How Jacqueline “JaQ” Campbell Inspires the Next Generation to Create, Preserve Wealth

President and CEO of Alexander Legacy Private Wealth says she’s fueled by the need to help women and diverse individuals reach their full potential.

Jacqueline “JaQ” Campbell, president and CEO of Detroit-based RIA Alexander Legacy Private Wealth, began her career in wealth management at age 16. She discovered the industry through a high school internship program that set her down the path of financial services, ultimately leading her to private wealth management.

Having been empowered by the industry and being fueled by the need to help women and diverse individuals to not only create wealth, but preserve it, she decided to become an entrepreneur herself with the founding of Alexander Legacy. Today, she feels called to help her growing client base as well as make an impact for social change in her local Detroit community.

Kristen Oliveri, Head of Private Wealth Content for Markets Group, sat down with Campbell to discuss her journey from high school intern to entrepreneur and how she helps the rising generation of women aspire to reach their full potential — and then some.

Markets Group: You have a unique story about how you got into wealth management. Can you tell us about your professional journey?

Jaqueline “JaQ” Campbell: I love when I tell this, especially to young people because I actually started as a high school intern. It was one of those unique situations where I remember my senior year, someone said there's an opportunity where you can literally go work for the second half of the day for high school, get paid and get high school credits. I said: ‘Wait a minute. You mean I can get paid, get high school credits and leave school early? Sign me up!’ Little did I know I was signing myself up for the career of a lifetime.

I started as an intern at a private bank. I was the receptionist, so my only job was to greet clients, make sure they felt good, had their coffee, and I answered the phones properly. One of the things that I remember is that one day, my trust officer had me file some papers and I looked down at these papers, and I noticed my grandmother's address. And I said: ‘Well, wait a minute. Why is my grandmother's address on these documents but not her name?’

My trust officer said your grandmother doesn't own that home anymore because it was sold to another family. It perplexed me that here are these documents, and it was her home, but we no longer owned the home. It was sold to another family when she passed away and it was put into their trust.

At the young age of 16, I learned about inheritance. I also learned that inheritance wasn't staying in my family, that it was moving to a different family, so that started the journey. I was just really curious, and I wanted to learn more about wealth, the transfer of wealth and inheritance. I ended up literally in wealth management about three years later, when I was turning 20 years old.

I found myself moving into the ultra-high-net worth division of that same department and it opened my eyes to a whole new world that I had never even explored. Being a young girl from Detroit, we didn't know anything about wealth. I just thought, you know, you save money and for most people, they're wealth was stuck in their homes.

MG: Now you run your own shop. Tell me about that progression.

JC: I went from that 16-year-old girl as the receptionist to now actually running my own investment firm. During the time when all of the things happened with George Floyd, I knew that there was an opportunity to do something dynamic in this industry. I had to step out of my role in the corporate world to step up into the role of being an entrepreneur, so that I could open the doors for more people to get access and inclusion to what we know is so incredibly important as it relates to building wealth, sustaining wealth and properly transferring wealth.

I love the opportunity to be able to share with people the risk that I took right when we decided to launch Alexander Legacy –  it was definitely no easy feat. We needed this opportunity to truly open up doors for more people to have access and inclusion to the private and capital markets.

MG: How does that tie into your own personal investment philosophy?

JC:  When I think about my investment philosophy, it really does start with understanding preservation of capital. I start there – how are we preserving it? What kind of instruments are out there that are helping us make sure that we are properly retaining wealth for ourselves and for our next generation?

As we think about our investment philosophy, it really does boil down to a few things. Number one, we're constantly looking for preservation. Number two, we're going to constantly look for ways and for companies and for municipalities who are focused on improving social justice in terms of governance.

As an example, there’s an institution that just established itself across the street from our corporate office here in Detroit, they had a huge, beautiful donation from Target Foundation and from Rocket Mortgage to be able to reinvest in the community to make sure people had better access to education and access to housing. So, when I think about companies like that, those are companies I can stand alongside because they're coming into communities, they're making true investments both short, medium and long term to making sure that communities are starting to thrive and to revive.

Today, you have organizations that are coming into Detroit that are being very thoughtful and intentional about investing. That's really when we think about our philosophy. We want to go alongside organizations like that who are committed to long-term social impact and change.

MG: I love the impact and the intentionality. As an entrepreneur, you are looking for clients and you're growing your business. What does your future client look like to you?

JC:  I always like to share that our KPI, our key performance indicator, is our LPI – legacy philanthropy and impact. When I think about that future client, they really align with our goals to help create legacy philanthropy and impact. What does that mean? Well, I will not work with clients if they are not committed to multi-generational wealth. That is key and core to our mission.

We want to eradicate poverty; we want to start to change the game in generational wealth so that our children's children don't have to start from zero every time a family member passes away. Our mission essentially, is to make sure that there is a legacy that is left behind when that family member transitions.

Number two is that our clients are philanthropic. They're looking for ways to make the world a better place and make a return at the same time. I work with foundations and nonprofits and donors and people who have that philosophy that giving is part of our responsibility. When we've been blessed and when we've had the opportunity to truly see wealth in a unique way, we need to figure out how we can be philanthropic with our work.

Lastly, it's impact. We just talked about what that looks like, organizations that are truly making intention to put infrastructure into new schools and create jobs for young people to get them off the streets. Those are companies that we're looking at because those are the companies that are going to make an impact in a big way, not just financially but with people. And that's really our number one focus—it's the people.

MG: It may go without saying, but we need more women in wealth management, period. How do you view that? How are you actively participating?

JC: That is the story of my life. I have spent the greater part of my work helping women, young people and diverse people get access to great opportunities in wealth management. I am a huge advocate for it. We know that especially for women, this industry can be so amazing because it teaches you about money, it teaches flexibility. If I need to work from home because I've got something going on with my children, I have that flexibility.

The thing that really makes me excited about this industry for women is the ability to understand money. I think about how many women might be stuck in situations that they can't get out of because they don't understand if they would be able to survive.

I am a big advocate for teaching women and empowering them on how to successfully create their wealth, right? So, in the event they want to start a business, or if they want to buy a second home or they want to expand their family, they have the tools and the resources to be able to do it and then to get into the business. I'm thinking about the client and potentially the nurse, the teacher that are considering, changing careers and coming to our world.

It's an exciting time for women right now. The wealth is being controlled 50% by women. If we don't know about money and if there's not enough advisors out here to put them into positions to be successful at money, habits and exploring the capital markets, then you know that does set us up for some challenges. I'm a big fan of the business for women.

MG: Some women may feel more comfortable chatting with another woman, so it's an industry that's perfectly capable to take on more women. Tell me about approaching legacy planning for your clients. How do you view it from a business standpoint and how do you work with clients throughout that process?

JC: When we think about legacy planning for clients, one of the things that we start off with is we really want to understand their multi-generational goals because we're planning for their children and their children's children. We want to understand the family values because if I'm helping your legacy plan, I need to understand what you value the most. If you were to unfortunately transition today, what would you want your family to remember you as? What do you want that legacy to really look like? It’s not just about money. It's about the value. It's the feeling. It's the honor that you want.

Some people say I want to set up a scholarship fund because I want all my descendants to have access to quality education and not have to worry about going into deep debt to support their college. So, we set up a plan that goes toward making sure that there's an education component to that legacy plan. In some cases, I've had clients who said for them it was about housing and making sure that not only their family have access to excellent housing, but they are able to give wanted to giving to other community groups and charities also. to make sure that they are as well.

We uncover and unpack all of that during our process because our goal is to not only make sure our clients feel extremely good about what they're doing while they're still alive but with legacy planning, it's really about planning that moment that they are no longer here. We know that we want their legacy to live on to infinity, so we really dig deep and get into the values. I meet with the wives, their husbands and their kids.

I recently spoke at a 53rd year family reunion and it was a full room, from the grandma who was 92 all the way to the 2-year-old.

MG: What are some of the biggest trends you're seeing in the wealth management space that we should be keeping an eye out for?

JC: From the investment space, we're seeing a lot of moves into alternatives. I'm also seeing a lot of families who are starting to get serious about their insurance. I think COVID really helped to kick-start that conversation if they hadn't already started to truly do any estate planning, setting up their trusts, making sure that their will has a durable power of attorney, all of those things.

I'm also seeing more trends right now with families coming together, like I might have a meeting with someone and they’ll say, ‘I'm bringing my family next time,’ which is a really positive sign.

Given what's happening in the economy, we've got inflation, there's a lot of things happening right now, so people need answers. They want answers from experts. They want to know that they're going to be OK and our job as experts is to make sure that they're going to be OK.

I'm very, very optimistic that I am seeing more people actually ask for help. I want to make sure that I'm going to get through this period successfully.

JaQ will be speaking at Markets Group’s 6th Annual Private Wealth Mountain States Forum in Denver on September 29,  moderating a panel on transitioning from the sports world to entrepreneurship. To register for the event, please click HERE.