But really, what I do is prepare my clients for success. I help prepare them for a better future and opportunities to leave a legacy to their families.
In 1970, when longtime LPL Financial advisor Emmanuel “Mann” Harris Sr. was still taking business courses at Tuskegee Institute with classmates such as Lionel Ritchie and members of the Commodores, a General Motors recruiter stopped by the campus looking to hire engineering students. Harris had worked his way through college by helping small businesses with their bookkeeping and tax issues and believed he could lend his experience to GM, which was looking to add more African Americans to its workforce.
“I walked up to that recruiter and said, ‘I’m not an engineer, but I have a lot to offer your company,’” said Harris. “They were really impressed with what I’d done and the fact that I was already out there in the black communities where they were trying to improve their image.”
Harris was offered a job in the GM finance department, where he worked for 20 years until he retired at age 41.
Building a second career
He went on to launch his own Indianapolis, Ind.-based financial and tax consulting firm, Harris and Associates, LLC. He’s been an independent advisor with LPL Financial since 1991 and ranks among the firm’s top financial advisors. Harris said LPL provides valuable products and platforms for his customers, and he also appreciates LPL’s history and leaders who value his opinion.
Each February during African American History Month, Harris lectures at local churches and schools, sharing his story and that of others to inspire young students to believe in themselves, invest in their education and create better lives. Now a father of three and grandfather to seven, Harris is an advocate of bringing more African Americans into the business, and previously partnered with LPL to train those new to the industry.
The Camden, N.C., native was born on a tenant farm, raised by his grandfather, a World War I veteran who left him with a very special American flag but without an inheritance. As Harris developed his business, an early focus was presenting clients with potential opportunities to provide generations with tax-advantaged inheritance.
He built his business around taxes and is an Enrolled Agent, licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department to represent taxpayers before the IRS. While growing his career, he often went into large companies that were downsizing to offer tax consultation to those receiving buyouts or early retirements. He helped make sure those affected were aware of tax laws, and he also utilized his access to variable annuities on the LPL platform to provide appropriate clients the potential for guarantee income for life. Now, about 50 percent of his business is annuities.*
“I’ve seen so many people make mistakes with investments, so I focus on teaching clients tax-advantaged investing strategies and how to use tax credits,” Harris said. “But really, what I do is prepare my clients for success. I help prepare them for a better future and opportunities to leave a legacy to their families.”
With support from LPL, Harris has grown his three-person practice to serve approximately 600 clients across the nation, mostly through referrals. “I always give out more than one business card,” he said. He doesn’t have minimums, which enables him to “serve all people who need help.” His typical clients are over 45 years old and “planning for tomorrow.”
Harris was the first person in his family to graduate college. He went on to earn an MBA in Finance from the University of Indianapolis, where he serves on the Board of Trustees. He also sits on the board at Elizabeth City State University. He uses his position on these boards to give back.
“I try to help students whenever they need a path to succeed,” said Harris. “Hopefully I can be a role model of business success. I also want these students to know other people before us have paved the way, set the path so we can do this. We can even improve on it and add our names to history.”
* Fixed and Variable annuities are suitable for long-term investing, such as retirement investing. Gains from tax-deferred investments are taxable as ordinary income upon withdrawal. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. Withdrawals made prior to age 59 ½ are subject to a 10% IRS penalty tax and surrender charges may apply. Variable annuities are subject to market risk and may lose value.