Journal of Financial Planning: November 2021
Inching Toward Inclusivity
In a conversation with C.W. Copeland for this month’s Q and A, we talked about the reputation that the financial planning profession has earned as a place for white men. He shared a story about a financial planning magazine that asked readers to identify a planner from a group of diverse people. Most readers pointed to the white man in his 50s as the most likely candidate. Although this anecdote illustrates a clear problem the industry needs to fix, in most cases, those readers wouldn’t be wrong. The CFP Board reported that as of December 2020, just over 4 percent of CFP® professionals were Black, Latino, or biracial, and less than 24 percent were women.
The financial planning industry has taken steps to increase representation of women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, but progress has been incremental. It’s something that will take a concerted effort to reverse, according to Corinne Low, assistant professor of business economics and public policy at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“People think that our goal is neutral,” Low said of efforts to increase representation across industries. “Our goal might be neutrality in outcomes, but if we recognize that human beings have a bias in favor of the status quo because our brains have been framed on that historical data, then to get to neutrality in outcome, we actually have to be proactive.”
From any perspective, it’s the right thing to do. It’s better for planners who want to serve more clients as wealth shifts to a less homogeneous population. It’s better for the industry as increased diversity opens the door to more creativity and innovation. And it’s better for communities around the country as access to financial planning gives more people a stronger foundation on which to build their lives.