Why Aren’t There More Women in Financial Planning? Ep #83

Financial advice has long been a male dominated industry.  Women represent 51% of the US population, but only 23% of CFP® professionals are women and this percentage has stagnated over the past decade.  Why is there a feminine famine in financial planning?  Today we’ve invited Allison Berger and Grace Kvantas back on the show to discuss the 6 main challenges that prevent women from becoming financial advisors. As we shed light on these topics, we share ways we are fighting against these stigmas.  We also celebrate Grace as the latest partner of Financial Symmetry.  Listen to this episode to hear why there aren’t many women in financial planning but also why that should change.

Why did Grace become a financial advisor?

Grace is a rarity among women in the field.  She knew that she wanted to become a financial advisor at the age of 15.  Her dad was a CFP® and it was at that young age that she realized that she was taught money lessons at home that many others never received.  She wanted to help others learn what her dad had taught her. In college, she learned so much more about finance, but she still didn’t understand the depth of what one learns as a CFP®.  It was only on the job that she began to understand all that a financial advisor really does.  Listen to this episode to hear about Grace’s journey to becoming a CFP®.

What does it take to become a CFP®?

Many people don’t know the difference between a financial advisor and a CFP®.  The CFP® designation is the standard of excellence in financial planning.  Becoming a CFP® takes a bit of work. You must have a bachelor’s degree and take the coursework first prior to taking the CFP exam. Candidates also need to have 3 years of qualifying experience or 2 years working directly with CFP professionals. After obtaining the CFP designation, Certified Financial Planners must maintain continuing education.

Why is financial planning a great field for women?

Now is a fantastic time to become a financial advisor. The average age of financial planners is over 50 and ⅓ of advisors are projected to retire within the next 10 years.  Women are uniquely positioned to excel as financial advisors in the years ahead.  Listen to this episode to hear why 72% of women who pursue the CFP® designation report high levels of career satisfaction.

Why aren’t more women in financial planning?

We walk through the CFP Board whitepaper detailing recommendations to increase the number of women CFP® professionals and the reasons women are not pursuing this career path.

  1. You can’t be what you can’t see.  Financial planning is not top of mind as a career path for many women. Grace and Allison discuss their efforts to increase awareness and encourage others to consider financial planning.
  2. There are misperceptions about the work.  Most think that this career path is very math heavy. Make no mistake, the CFP® exam and coursework require math skills and you will use math every day in this field.  However, math is only one tool in the process toward helping clients reach their goals.  Successful financial advisors also require the ability to build relationships and counsel clients as life changes.
  3. Women’s own behaviors may be holding them back. This phenomenon was detailed in Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” which we discussed in Episode 73.  Women may not feel as comfortable taking the career risk this industry may require.  This is a multi-faceted issue but learning more about the inner workings of the career can help break down these barriers.
  4. Gender discrimination and bias exist in the field.  Unfortunately, there are still biases and many women don’t feel welcome in the industry.  Both Allison and Grace are sometimes asked if they are someone’s wife or secretary.  The good old boys’ network is still alive and well in financial planning, but this is changing, and it is easier than ever to connect with other women on this journey.
  5. Work/Life Balance is not an issue.  When asked to respond to the statement, “Financial planning offers good work/life balance,” only nine percent of Men and 10 percent of women disagreed.  Contrary to popular belief, work-life balance is no longer a predominantly women’s issue.
  6. There are not enough female role models. Grace and Allison are working to change that.  Listen to this episode to find out where to turn for helpful advice and encouragement.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:27] How did Grace become a financial advisor?
  • [6:12] What are some things that prevent women from becoming financial planners
  • [8:25] What do you need to do to become a CFP?
  • [13:44] Are women more risk averse?
  • [18:52] Gender discrimination exists
  • [22:57] Work/life balance is a possibility

Resources & People Mentioned

  • WIN CFP – The CFP Board’s women’s initiative

Connect with Grace Kvantas and Allison Berger

Connect With Chad and Mike

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