The lack of progress in adding women to the ranks of financial advisors is “troubling,” according to a recently released Carson Group study.

In its second iteration of the study, “State of Women in Wealth Management Report 2023," Carson Group, a financial advisory firm and support and consulting organization for financial advisors, found it disappointing that more progress is not being made in adding women to the financial advice industry.

Tthe financial services industry has not really made any progress in gender diversity since the CFP Board first started tracking data a decade ago, the report found.

“Women still make up around the same percentage of CFP professionals—around 23.7%—which is only up 0.2% since last year’s report,” the report said. This year’s report was based on a survey of 276 financial advisors, 84% of whom were women.

“To put this in perspective, women represent a little more than 50% of the population, according to the U.S. Census. It is troubling that representation appears to have plateaued at such a low percentage of the population,” the report said. “This industry is in dire need of female professionals.”

Firms should offer flexible work arrangements with input from the female employees, as well as provide education and training that is designed by and tailored to female employees, the report said.

Sponsors are one of the keys to retaining and promoting women advisors and firms need to implement formal sponsorship programs and tie them to advancement and bonuses, the report said, adding that firms also need to adopt and enforce zero tolerance policies on discrimination, harassment and assault.

Firms also need to take early action to introduce young female students to wealth management as a possible career, the report said.

“We need both men and women to be committed for change,” Carson Group said. “It’s up to all of us—industry leaders especially—to take the adequate steps needed,” the firm said.

In its initial report, Carson Group recommended adding more women to leadership teams and implementing clear career paths for women, among other things.

More women are needed in the financial profession and should welcome their place there because “money is at the heart of everything, and being the trusted professional to help consumers manage money offers an opportunity for a fulfilling career,” the report said.

The survey participants agreed that “women are critically important to financial services because they are equipped to address the needs of clients and bring a variety of skills to the role.”

The report noted that gender biases, stereotypes and unchecked bad behavior remain prominent in the advisory industry, which can lead to unequal opportunities for female advisors and forced entrepreneurship.

“Female advisors are gaining ground as the go-to choice for addressing the unique needs and preferences of female clients. It’s not just about gender; it’s about the ability to connect on a deeper level and understand the distinct challenges women often face,” Carson Group said.