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CFP Board: To Work, Diversity Initiatives Need Buy-in From the Top

CFP Board: To Work, Diversity Initiatives Need Buy-in From the Top

There are 74,644 people who hold the CFP mark, up 37 percent from 2007. Despite this growth, the base of CFP members still doesn’t reflect the general population, which is more ethnically, gender- and age-diverse.

Only 23 percent of CFPs are women, and that has remained flat over the years. There are more CFP certificants over the age of 70 than under age 30, according to the CFP.

The CFP Board created its Center for Financial Planning last year to address the profession’s lack of diversity. Last week, the organization announced several new initiatives, including a mentorship program for women pursuing their CFP, a social media campaign to showcase industry leaders who are diverse, a new diversity research study, pilot projects to help firms establish re-entry internships, an online compilation of research from financial planning and related disciplines and a financial planning teaching program.

It has been a trend for several years now for financial services firms to launch women and diversity initiatives. Yet the number of women, young people and ethnically and racially diverse advisors hasn’t changed much.

At some firms, these initiatives don’t have the eye or attention of senior executives, said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, who was recently named the executive director of the Center for Financial Planning. Some women’s initiatives are simply “window dressing,” and there won’t be changes in the number of women advisors until the C-suite level executives fully embrace these initiatives, set goals to increase the ranks of women and make it a priority.

There are still engrained biases towards women in financial services firms — that “old boys” mentality that impedes opportunities for women. And because senior execs set the course for their firm and act as role models, the support for these initiatives has to come from the top, she said.

Mohrman-Gillis believes The Center for Financial Planning will raise the profile of these issues and drive executive-level attention to them. Bringing many firms together under the CFP’s initiatives will elevate these issues to a new level, she said.

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