Listening to the Calls for Diversity 17 Years Later

Journal of Financial Planning: May 2019​


To honor the Journal’s 40th anniversary, throughout 2019 we are highlighting key research, articles, and interviews from the archives. Visit for easy access to the archived content showcased here.

The profession’s recent focus on racial and ethnic diversity isn’t quite so new. Then-associate editor Nancy Opiela wrote in the pages of this Journal about the need for racial and ethnic diversity in the planning profession in 2002.

“The growth of racial diversity in America is staggering,” Opiela wrote. When she called several minority planners to ask about increasing diversity in the profession, the collective response was “It’s about time.”

Reading this article from 2002 gave me déjà vu. Ideas for how to address the lack of diversity suggested in the article include recruiting at colleges with a high number of minorities. Creating awareness about the profession. Surveying minority FPA members and asking them what types of programs they’d be interested in or if they had speaker suggestions. Trying to incorporate practices from other professions that have successfully recruited minorities. Mentoring. Seventeen years later, those ideas remain valid.

“Our profession is very late in coming to grips with the need to increase diversity,” Connie Chen, CFP®, AMP, said in the article.

In 2002, just under 22,000 CFP® professionals indicated their ethnicity in a survey, indicating 2.4 percent were Asian, less than 1 percent were Black, and 1 percent were Hispanic/Latino, Opiela reported in the April 2002 Journal.

Four years after Opiela’s article ran, at a session at the FPA Annual Conference, Lee Baker, CFP®, realized he was the only minority in the room. Ed Gjertsen, CFP®, realized it too. Gjertsen asked Baker if this was something that bothered him, and the pair started a conversation about the lack of diversity at the conference and in the profession.

Gjertsen and Baker connected with Trudy Turner, CPA, PFS, CFP®, and later Saundra Davis, APFC®, FBS®, and Louis Barajas, CFP®, EA®, to establish what would eventually become the FPA Diversity Committee, which has helped to make strides in the arena of diversity in financial planning, including establishing the FPA Diversity Scholarship.

Even though we seem to be having the same conversation about increasing diversity 17 years after that 2002 Journal article was published, Turner said there’s one key difference today.

“People are listening,” Turner recently told me. However, “What’s not different is that people don’t know how to implement this. That’s still the challenge. We’re getting closer to the cusp of there being some breakthroughs, but that’s still very much the challenge.”

—Ana Trujillo Limón

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