MSU Alumni Gain ‘Momentum’ on Wall Street

Alumni Profile / Volume 2021 / January 2021

By: Kevin M. Briscoe

Boomer launched Momentum Advisors in 2012, seeking to change the way Wall Street does business.

Over the course of his seven years at Goldman Sachs, Allan Boomer managed a $450-million investment portfolio as part of a team that oversaw $7 billion in client assets. Armed with an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business and an undergraduate business degree from Morgan State University (MSU; Class of 1999), he had a goal to climb the corporate ladder — and reap the financial benefits befitting a Wall Street investment banker — that was firmly in his grasp.

That all changed for the former Mr. Morgan in April 2010, in the aftermath of the financial crisis of the late 2000s.

“Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testified before Congress and was asked if Wall Street had a fiduciary responsibility to its clients,” said Boomer, 44. “I assumed the answer was, ‘Yes.’ ” But he learned that his views differed from Blankfein’s, Boomer said.

In a market of investors fed up with conflicts of interest and demanding objective advice, Boomer launched Momentum Advisors in 2012, seeking to change the way Wall Street does business. Today, the New York City-based financial planning and investment advisory firm has more than $280 million in assets under management. The firm operates, according to Boomer, with a focus on advice over products.

We really try to make sure that our clients are able to express their values through their investments.
Allen Boomer
Allan Boomer
MSU Class of 1999, Founder and Managing Partner, Momentum Advisors

“A lot of people who have dealt with financial advisors were really dealing with product salesmen. They’re masquerading as financial advisors but are really trying to push a product,” he said. “But, sometimes the advice we provide is the product, and that’s what we lead with.”

A few of the firm’s notable clients include civil rights activist Shaun King; former National Football League defensive end Randy Starks; and Sashi Brown, chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the Washington Capitals of the NHL.

Boomer has tapped his MSU network extensively in growing Momentum Advisors. New CNBC Contributor Tiffany McGhee, a 2000 Morgan graduate, was a partner of the firm and served as head of Institutional Investment Services before departing to launch her own investment firm, Pivotal Advisors, in 2020. Morgan graduate Tiffany Hawkins, 38, chief operating officer, is a vital part of Momentum Advisors’ current brain trust. After years of managing business ventures for prominent individuals and brands such as Jay-Z, Sean Combs, Mercedes-Benz and Procter & Gamble, she now focuses on improving her current firm’s culture, systems, business development and brand awareness.

“Allen and I explored and discovered things that didn’t work,” said Hawkins, who graduated from Morgan in 2005 with Bachelor of Science degrees in communication studies and statistical research. “Momentum had everything it needed to be a big brand. Allen let me rip up and rebuild that brand awareness and take the company to the next level.”

Aligning Money With Mission

Both Boomer and Hawkins added that part of the firm’s allure in the marketplace is its commitment to aligning the investments and value system of their clients.

“Right now, we’re in an era of Black Lives Matter, but does your investment portfolio reflect that Black lives matter?” Boomer asked. “People might say ‘Black Lives Matter’ on social media, but in their investment portfolio they might accidently own private prison stock or invest in a company that supports a political candidate that is working against their interests. We really try to make sure that our clients are able to express their values through their investments.”

Momentum Advisors

Momentum Advisors executives Allan Boomer (front) and Tiffany Hawkins (center), with Momentum Risk Management executive Sylvia Alston (rear)

While Momentum Advisors is busy helping its clients build wealth with sound investment advice, its sister company, Momentum Risk Management (MRM) is helping those clients protect it. MRM is a full-service insurance firm whose focus areas include wealth preservation through life and disability, asset protection through home and auto, business commercial, employee benefits and professional liability insurances.

Sylvia K. Alston, 44, is MRM’s co-founder and managing partner and a speech communication graduate of Morgan’s Class of 1999. Alston began her career in risk management at Zurich Insurance in Baltimore, Maryland, while attending Morgan, and learned some of the keys to business sales and persuasion technique while a student at MSU. She took those skills to New York City, where she quickly rose to senior executive, working for some of the largest national insurance brokerage firms in the U.S.

“People sometimes devalue the necessity for insurance,” said Alston. “So I didn’t want (MRM) to be a department within Momentum Advisors. While they complement each other, they’re very different. The financial end of it is one end of a client’s portfolio, but it’s also about, ‘How do you protect yourself against risk?’ ”

As the child of two activist parents, Alston said, she is intent on creating generational wealth for People of Color.

“Though my career experience is in private client wealth and asset management, the focus of my practice is centered on working with emerging wealth families in Black and Brown communities to help them establish a legacy for generations to come,” she said.

MomentumThe Morganites at Momentum each credit their MSU experience with the upward trajectory of their lives and have sought to give back to their alma mater. Their creation of “Morgan Takes Manhattan” is one example. The 2019 fundraising event celebrated the MSU “Magnificent Marching Machine” Marching Band’s performance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From the vantage point of their New York offices, the Momentum team and MSU President David K. Wilson hosted a breakfast and viewing of the parade. The event raised more than $15,000 for the University.

Their Morgan experience has helped them grind through personal challenges, aiding in their maturity and raising their awareness of self, Boomer, Hawkins and Alston said.

“When I was running for Mr. Morgan in 1998, I recited a poem, ‘Morgan Made Me Make It,’ ” said Boomer, who added that he was a “Black nerd” in his predominantly white high school honors classes. “Morgan gave me more exposure to people who looked like me. It boosted my confidence.”

Earl Graves

In Memoriam
Earl G. Graves Sr. of Morgan’s Class of 1957

The Morgan State University family mourned the passing of one of its most renowned alumni, Earl G. Graves Sr., in April 2020. Graves, the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine, was the eponym of the University’s School of Business and Management. A staunch advocate of higher education and equal opportunity, he made many financial contributions to MSU, including a $1-million gift to advance business education.

Graves’ career reflected the high value Morgan places on service. He retired from the U.S. Army as a captain and served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, among other positions of civic responsibility. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Morgan and had honorary degrees from more than 65 colleges and universities.

Jamal Harris

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