Financial Planning with Aziz Kamara

Many of our Artist Career Consultants work with paintbrushes, scripts, or chord progressions. Aziz Kamara did have a “guitar bro” phase, he says. But these days, he works as a financial advisor, dispelling the mysteries of Roth IRAs and insurance policies. Until recently, he coached clients at Western & Southern. Now, he runs his own financial consulting business, and he is happy to work with artists through the ACC program. Aziz approaches financial conversations with an open mind and a wealth of knowledge.

Hi, Aziz! Please share a little about your creative practice.
My relationship to art has, for the most part, been from an observer’s perspective. [But] when I was approached regarding the Artist Career Consultant role at Springboard, I thought it would allow me to exercise a practice that I find valuable, which is bringing financial information to people who otherwise didn’t have that information.

I got into the career that I’m in because I wanted to help people whom I felt the industry did not prioritize. And I think that artists typically fall into that space, because the financial world and the artistic world don’t run together organically. Especially for the individuals who have an inconsistent income. Those are individuals who may not think about certain financial concepts and could really use at least an introduction.

How did you start working with Springboard for the Arts?
A couple years ago, I was at a different firm, and I partnered with my brother at the time. He and I did a summer series for small business owners on how to protect their business and themselves. And I believe it must have been at one of those meetings where someone from Springboard saw me, and then at least a year later, the reference was: “This person saw you; they thought you spoke well. We understand that you understand financial concepts and strategies. Would you be interested in working with artists as an Artist Career Consultant?”

In terms of meetings I have with artists, they’re usually at least two meetings. We’ll set up one meeting, usually about 30 minutes, [so I can] determine, “Hey, can I even help you?” Some people might come to me seeking help in repairing their credit, and that’s not where I specialize. Whereas if someone else is looking for developing a long-term financial strategy, then I do a follow-up meeting and [ask for] information. And there’s usually then a follow-up meeting where I can present a strategy that is catered for them.

The initial question that I usually get when someone wants to sit down with me is, “How do I make sense of this financial situation?” In a lot of cases, an artist received a grant, and they want to know how to manage this money. There have [also] been some cases where someone just said, “Hey, I really am trying to take charge of my finances right now. I can do some planning.”

What are projects that you have going right now or an idea in the making? What’s a project you’d like to see happen?
I’m currently developing an app that takes this workbook that I already use with new clients and artists. [It’s designed] to empower people to develop and understand financial strategies without the constant reliance on advisors, self-serving institutions, or the Wild West of get-rich-quick/DIY financial strategies.

There are countless people in the role that I’m in. You get licensed, and you’re a part of a firm, or maybe you work privately. [Each of the last two firms I worked at] had these tools that allowed us to put in numbers from a client and then spit out a number of outputs. We could [use] them to say, “Okay, here’s a strategy that, given what you’ve told me, could work for you.”

I’m trying to not speak ill of an entire industry. But I am disillusioned by any firm saying, “Well, our job is to help people,” but then not developing a system for people to really utilize all the information that’s out there. That mindset doesn’t really work with my set of values and how I want to be.

So what I’ve realized is that I could just build — not taking any type of proprietary stuff — I’m just putting together my own formulas, based off of all the information that’s already on the internet, along with my ability to determine what information is appropriate and what isn’t, when it comes to developing a financial strategy. I can just take everything that I’ve learned and put it into an app of some kind and just give it to people. So that’s currently what I’m doing.

What’s something you wish others knew about you?
I try to operate from a space of authenticity, as much as I can. I meditate, so that I can remove the stuff that has blocked me from being my truest self. And I understand what it’s like to be in a space of survival and scarcity.

I believe that everyone is trying to do the best they can, when they can, with what they have. And that there are people who do bad things, but there are no bad people. The reason why — of all the things that I wish people knew about me — I pick that, is because I think that we live in a world where people are either quick to judge or are afraid to be judged. And so if someone can feel, before meeting me, that they’re not going to be judged — and that I’m going to try my best to help — I think that puts some good out in the world.

Springboard Resources
Artist Career Consultants, available for virtual consultations:
Workshops & Events Calendar:
Work of Art and Handbook for Artists Working in Community books:

Editor’s note:
 As the national platform for Springboard for the Arts, Creative Exchange has long been a platform to highlight the artists, resources, and efforts in our national network. In this pandemic, as Springboard for the Arts’ work is increasingly online and accessible nationally, we’ll be turning the spotlight on Springboard staff and our Artist Career Consultants, to share more about who we are and the work we do. Enjoy!