Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) and its Women’s Initiative (WIN) released a comprehensive research study on the “feminine famine” in the financial planning profession. The research examines the attitudes and perceptions of key groups with a stake in the gender composition of the financial planning profession, including CFP® professionals and other financial advisors, students, educators and representatives of financial services firms.
WIN’s mission is three-fold: to identify why relatively few women choose to become part of the financial planning profession; to make recommendations for encouraging and supporting women to pursue careers in financial planning; and to undertake efforts and campaigns to address the gender gap in financial planning.
At the heart of WIN is its Advisory Panel – comprising leaders in the area of women in financial services – which drew upon the research findings to develop recommendations to help attract more women to the profession. The WIN Advisory Panel also identified specific efforts CFP Board can undertake to address the problem.
“The need to attract more women to financial planning and to make this career path more attractive to women is more than just a challenge. It also presents a huge opportunity – for women and for business,” said Nancy Kistner, CFP®, chair of the WIN Advisory Panel and chair emerita of CFP Board’s Board of Directors. “CFP Board will next begin the real work of making more room for women in financial planning, including within the CFP® professional community.”
The research findings are derived from comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research conducted by CFP Board in partnership with Fondulas Strategic Research; they are outlined in a new white paper from CFP Board’s WIN Advisory Panel released today at an event in New York City. TD Ameritrade Institutional and Ameriprise Financial serve as sponsors of WIN, including the research study.
The research findings can be summarized by four overarching observations:
- Women lack awareness of financial planning and the CFP® certification process.
- Women harbor misperceptions about the financial planning profession and CFP® certification.
- Women’s reluctance to take professional risks may be keeping them from entering the financial planning profession. For those women in the profession, this same risk aversion may be inhibiting their success and/or professional satisfaction.
- Gender discrimination and bias exist within the financial planning profession, likely resulting in women feeling unwelcome and unsupported.
“We need the talents and skills of young women to advance the financial planning profession and to ensure the longevity of our industry,” said Tom Nally, President of TD Ameritrade Institutional. “TD Ameritrade Institutional is proud to support CFP Board in its efforts to change the way women see the financial planning profession and the way we as an industry foster and encourage women.”
Informed by the research findings, the WIN Advisory Panel developed recommendations aimed at attracting more women to the financial planning profession and to make the financial planning profession and CFP® certification more appealing, including:
- Make women leaders in the profession, including successful women practitioners, more visible to broad audiences of women and girls through speaking engagements, public appearances, media presentations and social media.
- Leverage the confidence-building benefits of girls-only groups or clubs—such as the Girl Scouts and Invest in Girls—to promote the basic skills of financial planning.
- Educate guidance counselors and placement officers in high schools and colleges on financial planning as a distinct specialty within financial services, and on the requirements and benefits of CFP® certification.
- Call upon financial firms to adopt transparent compensation structures and standardized job descriptions to eliminate any gender discrepancies in pay and responsibility.
- Elevate the visibility of firm initiatives to support and develop women financial planning professionals.
- Build and sponsor networks of women financial planning professionals, as well as in-firm and association mentoring programs
CFP Board recognizes that simply making recommendations for increasing the number of women in financial planning, including those with CFP® certification, will not alone get the job done. Accordingly, CFP Board has committed to a number of initiatives based on the WIN Advisory Panel’s recommendations, including:
- Create a WIN Council, consisting of CFP® professionals, educators in CFP Board-Registered Programs and financial planning firm executives, to supervise and advise on progress toward achieving gender parity in the profession. The Council will publish periodic reports of its findings and recommendations.
- Conduct an internal CFP Board review of all department functions and processes to determine alignment with the overall goal of increasing the number of women CFP® professionals.
- Partner with four or five firms – representative of the different business models within the profession – to conduct pilot initiatives at the firm level to bolster gender diversity, support the professional development of female employees and promote the CFP® certification.
- Designate WIN Advocates who will reach out to their local media and communities to talk about financial planning, the CFP® certification and the role and importance of women CFP® professionals.
“It’s critical that more women have a full understanding of the value and benefits of choosing a career as a financial professional,” said Elda Macias, Vice President, Retirement and Segment Marketing, Ameriprise Financial. “Ameriprise has a strong history of welcoming women as advisors, employees and clients and we are proud to be supporting CFP Board’s important efforts to improve the way the industry engages and supports women advisors.”