According to a research commissioned by the CFP Board, women harbor misperceptions about the financial planning profession and CFP certification.

In his foreword to the research report, Kevin R. Keller, CEO of CFP Board notes women constitute only 23% of CFP professionals while they compose 51% of the U.S. population.

Financial planning not top career paths for women

To address the challenge of ‘feminine famine in financial planning’, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc (CFP Board) launched its Women’s Initiative (WIN) in 2013 under leadership of Nancy Kistner, then chair of the Board of Directors. On behalf of the WIN Advisory Panel, a white paper was authored by CFP Board Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney.

According to the findings contained in the white paper, financial planning and CFP certification are simply not ‘top of mind’ as career paths for women. For instance, women are less than half as likely than men to report being “very familiar” with the role of a financial planner. The white paper points out that women lack familiarity with the role of a financial planner and are therefore unlikely to seriously consider a financial planning career or attaining CFP certification.

The white paper also highlights that what women believe about financial planning is often clouded by misperceptions and inaccuracies as to the nature of work.

Interestingly, the white paper also highlights that women’s own behaviors may be holding them back from pursuing or advancing in the financial planning profession.

Role models needed

The white paper points out the following findings of the Aité Group study highlighting certain characteristics of women financial advisors, such as lower firm ownership, or preference for working with large practices rather than small firms:

What does the woman financial advisor look like Financial Planning

Findings from the white paper

Interestingly, the white paper points out women’s concerns about achieving work-life balance don’t appear to be a major factor impeding them from pursuing CFP certification.

Another interesting findings contained in the white paper include the widespread consensus that more female role models, women’s support networks and professional development efforts targeted to women would increase the number of female CFP professionals.

As revealed by the following chart, the white paper also highlights that when the respondent group were asked the specific qualifications deemed important for financial planning, they gave the advantage to women over men:

Advantage women Financial Planning

The white paper concludes that when all the WIN findings taken together, it would suggest that the value proposition for women thinking about a career in financial planning and CFP certification is not yet sufficient to attract them to significantly greater numbers.

The white paper suggests CFP Board to launch ‘The Faces of Women CFP Professionals’ campaign to showcase women leaders and practitioners in the profession, and the opportunities and challenges they’ve encountered to attract more women into the financial planning profession.