Financial Planners Reflect on Barriers, Opportunities in the Profession
In recent years, significant progress has been made in attracting more women, people of color, and young individuals into the field. The number of CFP® professionals under age 30 has increased by 83% since 2016; 6,032 new women have joined the ranks of CFP® professionals, bringing the total to 20,632; and the number of Black and Latino CFP® professionals , including those who self-identified as biracial Black and Latino, grew to 3,688 in 2020.
Recruiting, however, is just one piece of the puzzle.
Creating a more diverse and sustainable workforce also requires cultivating an environment in which financial planners want to build a career.
"As awareness of the financial planning profession continues to spread and we attract more ethically and racially diverse talent, the challenge continues to be retaining and supporting these thriving professionals," explains Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®, Co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners.
In part, such support means helping financial planners feel comfortable in the field and recognize the unique skills and perspectives they bring.
"Even though I didn't necessarily look like most everyone else in the profession, I wish I realized then the power of being able to connect with someone who shares my background," says Marguerita Cheng, CFP®, CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth.
"There are many people from different walks of life who could benefit from the services provided by a financial planner. And the personality traits that might appeal to one person or demographic, may not resonate quite as well with women or people of color," Cheng says.
Jeanne Fisher, CFP®, CPFA, with Strategic Retirement Partners, notes that this is why financial planners need to harness their differences.
"Being a woman can be an advantage -- not a disadvantage. Embrace it. Don't try to 'fit in with the guys.' Our different approach, and the fact that we are naturally more empathetic, works in our favor," she says.
Early in her career, Dorsainvil says she felt that "in order to fit in I needed to code-switch. I could not be my authentic self." Not only was it exhausting to constantly change mannerisms or appearance to feel like she belonged with a specific audience, Dorsainvil says doing so also ignored the fact that no matter where you come from, what you look like, how you grew up or your circumstances, you can be successful in this profession for who you are and what you bring to the table.
Dorsainvil adds that overcoming that mindset and the barriers that keep women and people of color from entering or staying in the profession requires allies in the financial advisory space to act in solidarity with marginalized groups and unlearn what they think they know about race and ethnicity.
Phuong Luong, CFP®, a financial planner with Just Wealth, LLC, explains that this means having difficult conversations.
The profession "cannot truly be inclusive until we see why we've been exclusive for so long," she says, adding that financial planning as a whole is in a unique and privileged position to facilitate the reckoning that will ultimately help people become the most honest and realized versions of themselves
"If we get comfortable talking about race, imagine what we could do."
To learn more from diversity, equity and inclusion thought leaders and best practices visit www.CFP.net and plan to attend the 4th Annual Diversity Summit, taking place virtually November 17-18.