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Why We Must Increase Diversity in Wealth Management


By Greg Gilbert, CFP®

President and CEO, Infinity Financial Services

Why Aren’t More Advisors Female, Diverse, or Young?

Women and minorities are beginning to grow in number in the personal wealth management industry. Back in the 1970’s and 1980s, financial account executives (AEs, as they were called then) were primarily white males, and many received their initial sales training at wirehouses, like Merrill Lynch, Pierce Fenner & Smith and major insurance firms. Early on, few women participated in such training programs. 

Baby-boomer AEs were taught to target clients in their own age range or a bit older. The average financial advisor today is in the mid-50’s, and many are in their 60s and 70s. Their clients are retiring or have retired and are spending their savings, shrinking the practice AUM. Solo practitioners represent a large segment of the industry and most will probably not sell their businesses, which is a shame. Some firms are encouraging their advisors to create succession plans and retire, so that others may work to retain what clients they can and begin to grow the practices again. This represents a great opportunity for younger female, ethnic and male advisors, who will train up and presumably manage the businesses when the practice leaders move on.

In the 1980s and 1990s, female financial consultants (FCs) became more prevalent and received the same training as men at major wirehouse firms. The movement toward delivery of personal financial planning services led to the creation of the Certified Financial Planner™ designation, with a formal exam beginning in 1991 and a degree requirement since 2007. In 2013, the CFP Board, sponsor of the designation, launched the Women’s Initiative (WIN) with the goal of increasing the number of women CFP® professionals. Today, there are over 190 collegiate undergrad and graduate-level programs that are registered with the CFP Board, where students may sit for the CFP exam after completing required coursework. This represents a powerful opportunity for women and men of all backgrounds to graduate with a profession and jumpstart their careers as a personal financial planner.

At Infinity, we seek to partner with talented, ambitious, and thoughtful financial advisors, who want to take advantage of all we offer, to help grow their practices and enjoy their lives. I am proactively seeking to attract established financial advisors who are dually licensed as brokers and investment advisor representatives. I am especially interested in those who have taken the time to enhance their capabilities and knowledge by becoming a CFP®. The reason for this is that it is far easier to truly operate in the client’s best interest if you have the ability to create recommendations from a broad spectrum of products and services.


Interested in exploring a career with Infinity Financial Services? Click here to connect with me directly. 

* Source: forbes.com, May 13, 2019 
** Source: McKinsey PriceMetrix, 2019  

Growing Need for Women and Diverse Professionals

Talented female and ethnically diverse financial advisors are in high demand by investors who prefer a broader choice of advisor backgrounds. Much of this need is driven by female investors who comprise the most powerful consumers, driving 70-80% of all consumer purchasing decisions in the United States.* Today, women control a third of total U.S. household financial assets and large sums are expected to change hands in the next decade. By 2030, American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess—a potential wealth transfer that approaches the annual GDP of the U.S.**  It is not surprising to discover that many female investors prefer to work with female advisors and that ethnic clients want to work with professionals of similar backgrounds, who understand them.   

While demand is high for experienced female and diverse professionals, available financial advisors and planners are in noticeably short supply. According to datausa.io, in 2018, just 29% of the 353,000 personal financial advisors in the U.S. were female; 79.1% white (non-Hispanic), 6.1% Asian, 5.7% black or African American, and 1.2% Hispanic or Latino. According to the CFP Board, in 2020, 76.8% of the 86,910 certified financial planners are male and just 23.2% of CFPs are female. Let examine why there is such a significant shortage of talent and what is happening to change the landscape.

Infinity Financial Services is a national, independent Investment and Wealth Management firm, founded with a vision: help enterprising financial professionals to grow truly independent, successful practices, leveraging leading-edge technologies and firm support.

Based in Oakland, California, with branch offices around the U.S., Infinity's financial professionals offer an array of asset management, brokerage, financial planning, benefit plan, insurance, and risk management services. This article provides information for investment professionals. It is not intended for use by the general public.