How does the journey to diversifying the financial planning industry begin? With a single step.
There are now well over 75,000 CFP professionals in the United States, notes CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller, and as demand increases for fiduciary advice among women and within minority communities, the profession should continue to diversify.
The ceremonial 75,000th CFP, Gigi Guerra of the Miami, Fla.-based Guerra Group of Morgan Stanley, was held up by Keller as the face of the future of the planning industry.
“We think this is what the future looks like -- a millennial Latina career changer,” Keller says. “The profession is full of people who look like me, people who are blue-eyed and grey-haired, but this is where we are heading.”
Guerra, the daughter of Nicaraguan immigrants, enters financial planning at a time when the need for diversity along ethnic and gender lines has been frequently aired by CEOs and professional organizations, yet the proportion of female CFP professionals has stalled at 23 percent and representation among ethnic minorities, while growing, remains low.
There is hope, says Keller, who notes that 30 percent of the students who recently took exams for their CFP credentials were women.
For her part, Guerra is taking part in a National Women’s Networking Group within Morgan Stanley, starting her own chapter in Miami.
“We’re trying to foster an environment for women that promotes transformative change through professional development efforts,” Guerra says. “We want an environment where women feel empowered, have a little more visibility, and are able to freely exchange their ideas with one another.”
At 27, Guerra says younger generations will come to embrace traditional financial planning as a service much as its forebears did, but more of them will view it as a career option, especially as the industry demands more women and minorities in the business.
“I think the profession has come to understand that investors want to work with planning professionals who understand their background,” Guerra says. “They want advisors they can relate to, even when it comes to their age cohort. The profession needs to do a better job of addressing barriers to entry like education and training. Ultimately, that happens by providing opportunities like mentorship and professional development.”