Women financial advisors are continuing efforts to boost their numbers in an industry in which they're still in the minority.

The number of women in the field is inching up, but slowly, according to women mentors at AIG Advisor Group and the CFA Institute. The CFA Institute is sponsoring the Women in Investment Management Conference Tuesday and Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas.

While the financial services industry has grown exponentially over the last two decades, men have continued to dominate the profession.

A Morningstar report released Monday says women constitute about one fourth of the advisors in the growing financial services profession. However the number of women in some specialty fields such as money management remains exceedingly small, says Morningstar.

Only 9 percent of U.S. open-end fund managers are women. Women exclusively run only 2 percent of assets under management in the $12.6 trillion U.S. open-end mutual fund universe, says Morningstar.

“It is important that the proportion of male and female advisors reflect the makeup of the population,” says Rita Robbins, founder of Affiliated Advisors Inc. in Rochester, Mich., and an OSJ. The firm is affiliated with Royal Alliance Associates and a member of the AIG Advisor Group network of broker-dealers.

AIG Advisor Group has initiated the Women Forward program to encourage mentoring, training and networking among women in the financial field.

“I’m not suggesting women are the only competent financial professionals, but relating to others is the strong suit women have,” Robbins says. “Women advisors are more aware of what other women don’t know about finances, so they don’t concentrate on just asset allocation; they talk about what the client’s concerns are. The independent broker-dealer space is finally starting to value the skill sets women bring to the table.”

Heather O’Neill, president and founder of Michigan Financial Advisors, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., an affiliate of FSC Securities and a member of the AIG Advisor Group, agrees.

“Women don’t just talk about the numbers. They want clients to tell them what is important about their money and what they want the money to accomplish,” says O’Neill. “Women are more comfortable and confident speaking of goals and what the client is trying to accomplish financially.”