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From welfare to Wall Street

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 6/29/2011, 5:23 p.m.

One day at the beauty shop, Jennifer Edwards was reading the Wall Street Journal's stock page when a beautician said, "I've always wanted to know how to read stocks." Without hesitation, Edwards taught the beautician how in five minutes.

On a mission to bring Wall Street to Harlem, Edwards wants to educate the Black community about investments, stocks and financial planning.

Edwards is bringing one of the first investment firms to Harlem: Global Portfolio Management Ltd. She is CEO of the company and is a registered investment advisor, managing assets for individuals and intuitions throughout the world.

She holds Series 7, 63 and 66 certificates along with a health, life and disability insurance license, and her company was approved in May by the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, after spending years on Wall Street, she is ready to bring her work back to her uptown roots.

Her high profile clients include restaurateur B. Smith-she's even courted Magic Johnson.

"My drive is to bring Wall Street to Harlem," she said. "You don't have to be downtown to have knowledge about investing."

Born in Harlem, Edwards said she has had interest in the business world since she was young, and she always wanted to work on Wall Street. She started in retail management at a small boutique in Manhattan, which sponsored her to take the Series 7 exam.

After passing the exam, Edwards went to Wall Street, where she worked for over a decade. She started out at Merrill Lynch, where she worked for two years, then spent eight years working for Smith Barney.

In 2008, when the market took a dive due to the economic crisis, she decided to make the move and start her own firm. She knew that going back to her native home and sharing her knowledge with the community was where she needed to be.

"At Global Portfolio Management, we want to be an inspiration and employ people in the community. We also want to educate the community about financial management," she said.

Edwards wants to educate people about financial planning and show that's it's not as complicated as it seems. She said it only takes small sacrifices to have a secure financial future.

"It's just sitting down and saying to yourself, 'Where do I want to be in 10 years?'" she said. "Even us in the financial industry have to check ourselves. I want to encourage African-Americans to read the Wall Street Journal and buy into the stock market."

Along with teaching the Black community about financial investment, she wants to give opportunity to those getting into the business. As Global Portfolio Management begins to grow, Edwards said she wants to bring on more people, sponsoring them to take the Series 7 Exam to earn their insurance license and offering jobs to financial professionals in the community.

She said, "Giving back to the community is major for me. My client base is diverse but I want to educate kids and those who are interested in planning for their futures.