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Women financial advisors stand a long way from equal footing with men in terms of hiring and pay — and independent broker-dealers are no exception to the industry-wide disparities.

The average share of female registered representatives out of the total headcounts of the largest IBDs amounts to an estimated 17%, according to data submitted by firms for Financial Planning’s 33rd annual FP50 survey. The exact figures cannot be measured, however, since 21 of the 50 largest firms did not provide data about the gender breakdown of their advisors.

Available figures for the industry show the continuing lack of equality for women, who census figures say make up 50.8% of the U.S. population.

Female financial advisors earned 59 cents for every dollar received by men last year, the worst gender pay gap of any industry tracked by the Bureau of Labor Standards. And only 23% of CFPs are women, according to the CFP Board.

The ranks of chief executives at the 50 largest IBDs reflect the disparity as well. Just eight of the firms on the list are led by women.

Both lack of hiring and the unequal pay may help explain why wealth management performed the worst on a survey by SourceMedia earlier this year on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace across several different industries.

However, professional organizations and many firms have launched efforts aimed at narrowing the persistent gender divide. Internships, mentoring programs and forums could help spur change in the industry.

Several IBDs are also leading their peers by example in their recruitment of women. Transamerica Financial Advisors has had the highest share of female reps of any firm for at least two years running. And three of the five IBDs in the Ladenburg Thalmann network made the top 10 in the space.

The industry as a whole faces a long and steep path if it’s ever to mirror the U.S. population — or at least come close to it. Experts and industry leaders also point to boosting the number of women advisors as critical to attracting the next generation of clients.

The figures in the top 10 list represent the percentages of female registered reps disclosed by firms for the end of the year in 2017. The data on the overall count of female reps at each firm comes from estimates based on those percentages.

To see which firms have made the most progress on narrowing the gender divide, click through our slideshow. To see last year’s list, click here. For an overall recap of the year 2017 in the IBD space, see FP50 2018: Independent broker-dealers adapt to survive.


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