When Ashley M. Fox started to think about what she wanted to do in life, she considered how her primary passions fit into her plan to make a lot of money. She loved teaching but knew if she wanted to make big money that wasn’t the right path. She was also interested in psychology but didn’t like the cost/benefit of spending more than a decade in school. Eventually, the Philadelphia native convinced herself that a career in finance was the way to go. After graduating from Howard University with a degree in finance, she backed her bags and went to Wall Street. There, Fox embarked on a career as an analyst, managing the accounts of millionaires and billionaires, and helping them invest.
“I had convinced myself that Wall Street was the way. I was an average employee and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t into it,” Fox tells MadameNoire. “[I realized I got more] excitement out of learning how my clients built their wealth versus showing them how to keep it.”
Fox recalls conversations she had with people back in Philly. They viewed the clients she worked with as having achieved unattainable levels of success. That’s when she realized that a lot of people had misconceptions about how to become financially literate, and decided that she wanted to show people that anyone could learn the ropes of economic empowerment.
“Money is something people don’t talk about, especially in the Black community. It’s just not something [many of us] are accustomed, so I felt like, you shouldn’t have to work on Wall Street or make a million dollars or more to access anything,” says Fox. “Everyone has a desire to build wealth, it’s not like we want to keep make financial mistakes, we just don’t have the resources on how to not make financial mistakes.”
Fox left her Wall Street job without a plan and things went south. She lost her income, her apartment and had to move back home to Philly, but she never lost sight of her goal of figuring out how to help the everyday person become financially empowered. She started over again by becoming a financial advisor to low and moderate-income people and her desire to teach came full circle, and her interest in psychology played out as well after realizing that money psychology is real.
Today, Fox teaches adults and children how to be financially literate through her company, Empify (which merges the words, “empower,” and “modify”), an education-based organization created to help both adults and children understand financial literacy. Empify has financial education programs in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. There is also an accompanying app for adults.
It has been about seven years since Fox left Wall Street for a life of entrepreneurship, and she’s back making the money she always dreamed of, while helping others get to where the money resides.
“I’ve cried over the emails that I’ve gotten from people. I’ve also seen the transition in the clients I’ve worked with. Like, I have clients who have worked with me in 20013 and I’ve seen them evolve and teach their families what they’ve learned or bring their moms and their dads in our app because they want their parents to learn what they’re learning,” says Fox. “The biggest thing for me is to shift the mindset of the Black community. We have a $1.3 trillion buying power and we’re great at consuming but we’re not great at owning, so it’s about shifting the mindset to show our community it’s possible to be wealth— and the best way to do that is to invest in your ideas or someone else’s.”