While the financial advisory industry is growing rapidly, it's shutting out women, according to a new study.

Although women’s involvement in the sector has increased — women now comprise 36% of the industry, up six percentage points from 2003 — the gender pay gap has also grown over the past decade, according to a sutdy by consumer website NerdWallet.

The study finds that female financial advisors make only 61.3% of male financial advisors’ annual salaries.

Are female being shut out from the profession or are there less women vying to participate in the field? 

According to Amelia Granger, a senior analyst at NerdWallet who conducted the study, women are increasingly vying to compete yet they’re not being paid as equals. Granger points to a couple of reasons to explain why there are less female financial advisors compared to men, and why they receive lower paychecks.

A whitepaper released this year by Pershing pointed to a lack of women at major wirehouse firms, where incomes are typically higher and client account sizes are larger, as a main driver of the disproportionate pay gap. Cultural attitudes about money and power are also potential culprits, the study said, asserting that men are less likely to want a woman to manage their money for them.

Another factor: women have been relatively late to the game. Female advisors are a minority in 2013, but they were practically unheard of (especially in investment advisory roles) two decades ago. "That gives men a major head start on reaching the higher echelons of management at bigger firms, as well as typically having put in the years amassing significant client bases in smaller firms," the study says.

"With this study, I'm not trying to make a judgment call or assign blame," Granger adds.

The good news is that women are making great strides in terms of their growing numbers in the field, and it’s a field that’s increasingly lucrative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an increase in demand for financial advisors, adding 66,400 jobs before 2020.

Looking ahead, many in the industry argue that the great wealth transfer underway making women, an historically underserved segment of the population, one of the most immediate opportunities from a business standpoint may highlight the necessity of more female advisors. “I hear a recurring theme: women like to work with other similarly situated women. Women who are in control of their finances are most comfortable looking to a successful female advisor who they think will relate to them and understand their particular investment needs and goals. Happily, we are starting to see more top male advisors recognize this trend and are looking to partner with female advisors to better appeal to this demographic,” Mindy Diamond, president and CEO of Diamond Consultants says.

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