Drawing more young people into the financial planning profession and diversifying the workforce are two of the field’s top priorities this year and beyond, says the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning.

The center recently held a Design Summit in Washington, D.C., hosting thought leaders in financial planning, workforce development, diversity and academia, to discuss the future of financial planning. One of the top priorities, the group concluded, is to raise awareness of the profession and its benefits as a career in order to attract more young people to it.

This will require changing the perception of what financial planners do and emphasizing the valuable role they play in American society, the group says. Attendees called for firms to create more institutionalized career pathways as a tool for attracting and retaining qualified talent.

The participants in the summit also said the center should create public awareness programs targeted at people of color and women, develop the case for inclusive workplaces and professional teams, and collect data across the industry to create diversity benchmarks that individual firms can use to assess their own inclusion practices.

Summit participants say successful inclusion initiatives must begin at the top of the profession, with firm leaders and executives publicly pledging their support for diversity and ensuring that leadership teams reflect the same diversity goals that they are promoting.

“CFP Board sits at the crossroads of those who practice financial planning, those who teach future CFP professionals and firms that are looking for top talent to serve clients,” said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, the executive director at the Center for Financial Planning. “The Design Summit provided a landmark opportunity for a broad cross-section of leaders in financial planning and academia to discuss how they could each contribute toward creating a diverse, sustainable supply of financial planners to meet the needs of the American public.”

“We must address the challenges facing our profession now,” added Robert J. Glovsky, the center’s advisory council chair and past chair of the board of directors at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. “We need to look more like the American public we serve, provide a place for faculty to conduct research and build the body of knowledge and identify innovative ways to encourage young people to enter the financial planning profession.”