Ross, Charles 1957–
Charles Ross 1957–
CEO, financial planner, multi-media journalist
Charles Ross considers himself a Financial Content Specialist. His financial advice has been seen or heard in print, television, radio, and on the Internet. Ebony, magazine referred to him as a Financial Televangelist in a 1993 article on financial planners. One of many things Charles Ross is passionate about is people of all ages and backgrounds having the ability to take care of themselves and their families by taking care of their personal finances. To help them, he formed his own finance company, wrote two books, hosted a nationally syndicated radio talk show on personal finance, has written for magazines, had nationally syndicated newspaper columns, and has an interactive web site. His regular appearances on national television and his personal finance seminars round out the list of ways he dispenses financial knowledge and advice.
Charles Ross was born to Ernest Christopher and Newtie Ross on October 19, 1957 in New York City. One of eight children, Ross spent much of his time in his father’s dry cleaning business, as did his brothers and sisters. He recalls at eight or ten years old working the cash register and doing other chores in one of the two stores his father owned, helping his father deliver dry cleaning, and between chores and customers doing homework at the counter. He spent Saturdays there as well, working eight or ten hours with his father. AI think seeing that kind of led me to deciding to start my own business, Ross says. The stage for entrepreneurialism was set, but the young Charles Ross had another interest—animals. He admits to having a menagerie which included ducks, chickens, other birds, iguanas, boa constrictors, toads, chameleons, and lizards, but his father halted growth of the collection when he wanted to add a monkey. Ross did manage to conduct a little business with those animals—he raised hamsters and sold them back to pet stores. His animal interest led to his desire to be a veterinarian or zoologist. In high school he applied to the University of Georgia because of its excellent veterinarian school. He also played football and track, and placed second in the nation in the Marine Corps Youth Physical Fitness Program and was awarded a $1500 scholarship from Post Cereal.
In high school Ross found another interest—radio. AI became smitten with radio and wanted to be a disc jockey, he recalls, but admits he could not see himself doing that all of his life. In his senior year Ross served as editor of his high school newspaper and wrote for the yearbook, and found himself attracted to journalism as well. Being advised that radio and print journalism were connected, Ross changed his major to journalism. In college, he worked at the campus radio station and for almost a year had his own nighttime show. When an opening for a night shift weekend announcer at the local top-forty station came up, Ross applied and got the job, and his radio career was launched. He worked in radio throughout his college years.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism
At a Glance…
Born in New York City; son of Ernest Christopher Ross, a dry cleaning business owner, and Newtie Ross, a homemaker; wife’s name Barbara; children: Charlene, Charmaine, Charnae. Education: B.S. University of Georgia, 1979.
Career: Radio announcer; bank teller; investment Sales Manager; Investment Banker; Host of “Your Personal Finance,” 1986-1998; President and CEO Financial Media Services 1986; President Christian Financial Ministries, Inc.
Member: Member International Association of Financial Planners; Member Board of Directors Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Atlanta; Board of Directors Butler Street YMCA; Past president Atlanta Chapter of National Association of Urban Bankers.
Addresses: Financial Media Services, Inc., RO. Box 870928, Stone Mountain, GA 30087.
in 1979, Charles Ross worked at an Atlanta radio station, but after a few years he realized that staying in radio would mean moving around the country to pursue opportunities. AI couldn’t see myself being married and having a family and moving them around, he says. He left radio and after a stint as a fast food manager he went to work in a bank as a teller. It was a good fit, and he found he was particularly good at handling money, being accurate and fast. In the early eighties he got the opportunity to work in the new investment department in the bank, and became the sales manager for the department. AThat was when I found out I was pretty good at it and loved investing. I owe my whole career to that decision. I don’t know what I would have done had I not gotten that opportunity to work in the investment department. He was then hired away to start up and head a new investment department at the top bank in Georgia. But he had not left his radio interest behind, having developed a radio program and shopped it around to stations until one picked it up in 1986; for two years while heading the investment department at the bank he also did his two-minute financial planning program each day on WVEE-FM in Atlanta, the city’s top urban station. Although the new financial department he headed was successful, when the bank was bought out Ross made the decision to leave. His radio program, AYour Personal Finance, was going well enough that he syndicated it and continued for a total of twelve years. In 1986 he also formed his company, Financial Media Services, Inc. as a holding company for his multi-media financial advice activities.
In 1994 Ross was asked to write a weekly column on personal finance for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He wrote ATalking Money for two years. Alt was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. It helped me understand the impact and power of local newspapers and what they can do, he says. He also wrote for about four years a syndicated column, AYour Personal Finance, for black newspapers across the country, ending in 1997. During this time he also did a twelve-part series on personal finance called AMoney Maze, which aired on PBS and was featured in a video produced by Ebony and Jet magazines. In 1993 his first book, Your Commonsense Guide to Personal Financial Planning; Learn How to Budget, Protect, and Save Your Money, was published in hardcover by Thomas Nelson Publishers. His book of advice had a first paperback printing of 35,000 copies. He also wrote for Upscale magazine for a year and a half, ending in December 2000, and wrote for a Christian magazine, New Man.
Charles Ross has appeared on a number of television shows. During the mid nineties he appeared with Marilu Henner on her talk show, has had guest spots on a number of programs, and has appeared regularly on CNN during financial segments, including the network’s TalkBack show. In 1998 his second book, God’s Plan For Your Financial Success was also published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, and came about as an outgrowth of his teaching ministry. Ross serves as president of Christian Financial Ministries, Inc., begun by him and his wife, Barbara, and conducts church seminars to teach biblically based principles to managing money. His other seminars are conducted nationally for Fortune 500 corporations, colleges, and professional and civic organizations.
Ross’ clients cover a wide range of ages and situations. He believes children and young adults should learn about managing money so that they will be better prepared in the future. AMy biggest cause right now is trying to get personal finance education into all the nations’ high schools. No matter where you end up in life, whether you go to college, don’t go to college, go to technical school, you are still going to have to learn how to manage money. And how you manage money is going to be a big predictor of how successful you’re going to be in life, he states. Ross created the seminar AMastering Your Money to teach college students and young adults money management skills.
For his own future, Ross sees no limits. The Internet is the wave of his future and a place where all of his work can come together. Alt’s the one place that I can showcase all of the things that I do. I’ll always be multi-media. Each medium has its unique perspective.
Through the Internet, people can come back to the web site for a broader perspective of the things I can help them with. I am a financial content specialist. Charles Ross also has no plans to ever stop what he’s doing. “As long as people continue to ask me to write, and they’ll read what I write, or listen to what I say, or look at what I’ve done on television, I’ll continue to do that.”
Your Commonsense Guide to Personal Financial Planning, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1993; 1997.
God’s Plan for Your Financial Success, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1998.
Black Enterprise, April 1993, p. 75.
Ebony, January 2000, p. 106.
Additional material for this profile was obtained from the following web sites, at www.charlesross.com and www.blackfamilies.com and in a personal interview with Contemporary Black Biography on November 28, 2000.
—Sandy J. Stiefer