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Women Are the Missing Piece in the Financial Planning Puzzle

Photo: Courtesy of Gabriel Crismariu

Susan Green, JD, CFP®

Senior Financial Advisor and Director of Financial Planning Standards
Wescott Financial Advisory Group, LLC/Co-Chair of NAPFA Women’s Initiative

Women are uniquely suited for careers as financial planners. With proper advocacy and encouragement, women can and will fill a void within the financial planning space.

Women have historically been in the background when it comes to finances in general, and are underrepresented in financial planning careers. They earn less money than their male counterparts, take longer breaks from the workforce in order to raise children and care for elderly parents, and tend to live longer than men, meaning that their money has to last longer.

Ironically, some of the reasons women are not in the financial planning industry are actually the same reasons women excel in this profession. Financial planning is often grouped with other finance professions like investment banking, yet, while there are many elements of math involved, financial planning is ultimately about relating to people.

Women excel as caretakers of children and the elderly because they are skilled in communication and empathy, two of the greatest assets any financial planner can possess. Women also tend to use more relatable language and are often better able to see the big picture and how various decisions impact the overall goal.  Women understand the value of passing on a legacy, not just assets. 

Contrary to some perceptions, there is space in this industry for women. In 2018, Financial Advisor Magazine reported that a majority of women want other women, not men, to guide their financial lives. Yet, in the same year, only about one third of financial advisors were women, and the percentage of female CFPprofessionals has stagnated at a meager 23 percent of the industry.

Forty percent of all financial advisors will likely retire within the decade, leaving a vacuum to be filled. Additionally, many women are becoming the family breadwinners, meaning that they have a bigger opportunity to exert their voices regarding household financial decisions. The demand for financial planners, especially women, to guide them will skyrocket.

To encourage more women to enter the profession, the CFP Board Women’s Initiative (WIN) has suggested practical ways that those within and outside of the industry, female and male alike, can encourage women to pursue careers in financial planning. We need to elevate the profession to a prominent place at all ages and educational levels. Girls-only organizations can build confidence and encourage math and budgeting skills. CFP professionals can speak at career days and educate high school and college-level guidance counselors regarding financial planning as a career. We can advocate for expanding college curriculums to include financial planning programs. Women CFP professionals should attend career fairs. All women should act as mentors to encourage young women and connect them with others in their preferred career areas. 

With a concerted effort to attract women to the financial planning profession, we will ensure that clients remain in great and empathetic hands for decades to come.

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