© 2020 Arizent. All rights reserved.

CFP Board launches new campaign to promote industry diversity

Register now

Older, white and overwhelmingly male, the financial planning field has a longstanding diversity problem.

The CFP Board wants to remake the face of financial planning by launching a campaign aimed at addressing the demographic challenges firms face in fielding a younger and more representative workforce. Without diversity, the profession is on an unsustainable path CFB Board officials warned at the campaign's official launch event.

This new initiative is building on an earlier campaign that specifically focused on recruiting women into the planning profession.

"It's really a launch to build awareness of the CFP certification among millennials, women and people of color," said Nancy Kistner, chairwoman of the CFP Board's Women's Initiative Council. "This campaign was designed to spread the message that the future of financial planning depends on the participation of these communities in order to grow, thrive and remain responsive and relevant to the public that it serves."

The "I am a CFP Pro" campaign will draw on a variety of multi-media elements, including brief videos spotlighting the stories of young CFPs. It will also feature and a still-under-construction website that will offer toolkits for firms and schools to support recruiting efforts for professional and educational programs. In particular, the planners featured in the videos play up some of the non-financial aspects of the business, such as building relationships with clients and enjoying a career that affords a reasonable work-life balance.

Blaine Aikin, executive chairman of the fiduciary training firm fi360 and chairman of the board of directors at the CFP Board, offered some figures to quantify the challenge that firms face in recruiting and hiring the next generation of planners.

While demand for financial advice has seen healthy gains in recent years, the aging workforce calls into question the ability of firms that offer holistic financial planning to sustain their service model, Aikin argued. Currently, there are more CFPs over the age of 70 than there are younger than 30.

Additionally, just 23% of active CFPs today are women, and, among people of color, the figure is "significantly less than that," Aikin said.

"[T]he financial planning workforce is both aging and it's shrinking, so it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand that we're experiencing," he said. "We do expect that the U.S. will be a majority-minority nation by 2043, and our profession is really not on track to meet this – the population that it must serve really to be relevant going forward."

The "I am a CFP Pro" campaign is an initiative of the board's Center for Financial Planning, an arm of the board that aims to promote a "more diverse and sustainable" industry through academic research and workforce development and diversity campaigns. TD Ameritrade is supporting the initiative as a lead sponsor.

Brittney Castro, who runs Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles RIA, is one of the young CFPs featured in the campaign videos. She sees a role for the Center for Financial Planning to take a more active lead, both in recruiting students on college campuses and working with established firms to help them with their succession-planning efforts.

"If it was something on campus, where I was able to learn about financial planning, that would be amazing to teach more individuals just that this is a real profession, that they can succeed," Castro said.

Likewise, she sees a role for the center in offering resources and education that could support older advisers in their efforts to hire and develop new talent. As a business owner, she thinks the initiative can bring additional resources to advisers who may not have them otherwise.

"Because I think that's one of the biggest reasons [older advisers] are not doing it – is because they don't have the bandwidth to take on a junior partner or train somebody from the ground up," she said.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.