Barely one-quarter of financial planners are women, but industry experts say 2 simple strategies could move the needle
- Only 23% of financial planners in the US are women.
- By 2045, about $70 trillion will transfer from baby boomers to their heirs — many of them women.
- Some firms have launched programs to recruit women and promote them to leadership positions.
Men dominate the financial field — in 2020, women accounted for only 23% of all Certified Financial Planners, or CFPs, in the field.
But as women grow their wealth — women control about 32% of the world's wealth, according to Boston Consulting Group — financial firms are evaluating how best to serve them. For many, that means stepping up efforts to hire and promote women.
Women are educated, have increased earning power, are interested in investing, and, in many cases, are poised to inherit a chunk of the $70 trillion expected to be passed down in the Great Wealth Transfer by 2045.
To better serve these women, financial experts said their industry must take two key steps to increase representation, change the "old boys" culture, and provide opportunities for women to advance in their careers.
1. Change the culture of the financial-services industry
Some financial firms have been quicker to respond to the growing call to diversify the financial-planning sphere, turning internally and setting up mentorship programs, recruiting at business schools, and committing publicly to promote more women at the top.
Advisor Group is one of those companies, having created a "Parity Pledge" to interview at least one qualified female candidate for every open position. Kristen Kimmell, Advisor Group's executive vice president of business development, told Insider that the company's Women Forward initiative focuses on supporting and advancing women in the industry with events, networking opportunities, webinars, a podcast, and a mentorship program.
"We need to focus on where the industry is really headed," Kimmell said.
When it comes to the financial-services sector, women in the industry said it can be hard to network, build relationships, and make progress climbing the corporate ladder. This, they said, often leads to turnover.
"People often saw me as someone's assistant," Sandra Cho, the president and founder of Pointwealth Capital Management, told Insider. "I didn't fit the mold."
Nicole Wirick, a financial planner who founded Prosperity Wealth Strategies in Michigan, told Insider that instead of leaving the industry, she took on the challenge to help change the culture by learning new skills and making events more inclusive.
Wirick said she learned that financial planners were making deals and establishing relationships during outings or activities she wasn't interested in or didn't feel comfortable doing, including fishing trips and golf outings.
To address that, Wirick picked up a golf club and organized an event for other professional women to teach them the skills and etiquette of the game.
"The goal wasn't to become a great golfer," she said. "It was a way to elevate women and get them a seat at the table and be active and engaged."
2. Provide mentorship opportunities to women and CFPs of color
Changing the culture is a step in the right direction, but that doesn't account for the racial and gender disparities in the financial-planning industry.
While the percentage of Black financial planners grew by more than 10% in 2021, they still make up less than 2% of all professionals in the field, according to the CFP Board.
To bridge these inequities, some firms are looking to build mentorship programs and opportunities to network and grow relationships, where female role models in upper rank-roles can be hard to find.
"There's something to be said when you see a person like you climb the mountain, or you see someone help them climb that mountain," Cho said. "You want to do it, too."
Anne Marie Stonich, the chief wealth strategist at Coldstream Wealth Management, told Insider its Women and Wealth program focuses on networking and mentoring. She said the company hosts events to foster relationships and surface more ideas and perspectives about how to navigate career growth in the field.
Kate Healy, the managing director of the CFP Board's Center for Financial Planning, told Insider that financial firms are getting savvier about creating career paths for women.
"Awareness of the profession is key," Healy said. "Women need to know this profession is about helping people — it's about relationships, it's about flexibility, and it can be a way to support your family financially."
"There is a need for this industry to understand women and bring more women into it," she said.
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