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It's Time to Talk About the Race Gap

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The problem seems obvious whenever we walk the floor at a big industry conference: Nonwhite faces are few and far between in a sea of white male advisors.

America looks more and more diverse each day, and its wealth patterns are shifting, as well. Diahann Lassus, principal of wealth management firm Lassus Wherley, nailed the challenge that faces the industry: “If we want to continue to grow,” she told us, “we need to have a diverse workforce that mirrors the population.”

As a frequent moderator of SourceMedia’s Women Advisors Forum events, I see firsthand the amount of money and energy the industry has begun to put into recruiting and retaining female advisors. In addition to our conferences, I also see big players like AIG’s Advisor Group, the CFP Board,

Ladenburg Thalmann, Raymond James Financial and others making visible efforts to attract, retain and develop female financial planners.

Yet when it comes to pursuing nonwhite advisors, all we hear is silence.

In reporting his cover story this month, Senior Editor Charles Paikert went to the top five independent broker-dealers on our FP50 list and the top five firms on our RIA Leaders list, and asked them to discuss the matter. Only one of the 10 was even willing to comment. (Credit Raymond James for stepping up.)

Talk, of course, is not action. And the underlying issue — the near absence of advisors of color — is not going to disappear without a sustained, concerted effort by the industry’s biggest firms. Yet if we’re not even willing to discuss the industry’s race gap, we’re certainly no closer to doing anything about it.

It’s time to start talking about the industry’s race problem. We hope we can get the conversation going.

Read more: How to Fix the Industry's Race Problem

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