NEW YORK - Read any number of studies, or just glance around most industry conferences and you'll see it: Women make up a noticeable minority of the financial advisory community.

The CFP Board is trying to do something about it.

The organization announced Wednesday the launch of a yearlong initiative to determine what's keeping women out of the financial profession -- and then it will recommend ways to increase their number.

"I am here to encourage more women to become CFP Professionals and make financial planning a career," CFP chairwoman Nancy Kistner told the Women Advisor Forum in New York on Wednesday.

Only about 23% of CFPs are female, she said -- a number that's held steady for a decade. "That's a problem," she said -- and it runs counter to the growing presence of female professionals in other fields like education, medicine and law.

She pointed to a difference in pass rates on the CFP exam: 67% for men but only 57% for women.

The gender split also varies among compensation models, with a stronger female CFP presence among RIAs but a larger gender discrepancy at "practices associated with sales and commissions."

Kim Dellarocca of Pershing said at the Women Advisors Forum that 30% of financial advisors are women but 70% of women would prefer to work with a woman advisor.

FEMALE ADVANTAGES

Kistner did highlight a couple of things she thought would help women make gains in the future.

  • Age differences: "Time - and age -- is on our side. The average female CFP professional is 50 while the average male … is 59."
  • Increases in women's wealth: "There is a growing preference among women to work with a female advisor, or at least have a choice," she said.

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