Needed: More Female Certified Financial Planners

Help! We need more female Certified Financial Planners™. Compared to other professions, financial planning’s progress in attracting women looks pretty slow. According to the CFP® Board of Standards, the percentage of female Certified Financial Planners™ has remained stagnant at 23% – 26% for the past decade. 

Sadly, this compares unfavorably to other traditionally male-dominated occupations. Women now represent 60% of accountants, 54% of pharmacists, 40% of banking professionals, 33% of all practicing physicians, and 36% of practicing lawyers. 

Who do you know looking for a great career? 

It turns out there are many misconceptions about financial planning as a career. Might there be a young girl or mid-career woman in your life who isn’t aware that financial planning is a wonderful career choice? 

What makes it so wonderful? 

1) Helping people build confidence in their financial future. There’s joy and fulfillment in using your own knowledge and experience to help people feel better. 

2) Getting to use a combination of technical and people skills. Good financial planners use listening techniques as much as math and technology. 

3) The opportunity ahead. Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the demand for financial planners would grow 30%. Women outlive men. It’s surprising, but the average age of widowhood in the U.S. is between 55 and 57. There will be many more women, inheriting more money, in the coming decades. Men can serve them equally as well as women, but some of those women might prefer to deal with a woman. 

4) A certification (CFP®) that emphasizes ethical responsibility. The profession is increasingly drawing bright lines to help the public distinguish the professionals from the people who put their own financial interests ahead of their clients’. 

5) Money is an emotional topic. Good financial planning requires sensitivity, compassion, and empathy – attributes that are often downplayed in the land of finance. In financial planning, the more you have of these, the more successful you will be. 

6) A 2021 survey by FlexShares of advisors showed a career satisfaction rate of 89%. Helping people through unique and stress-filled historic times, in one of the most sensitive areas of their lives, is a life-changing benefit of this profession. 

3 Myths About Financial Planning as a Career: 

A) It’s focused on numbers. 

Actually, it’s focused on people. The numbers are necessary, but they don’t communicate the meaning behind them on their own. 

B) It’s about selling products. 

It’s about building authentic, long-lasting relationships. You don’t have to sell any products, at all, to be a financial planner. (Ask me.) 

C) It’s about investment advice. 

True financial planning involves a lot more: helping people craft an ideal yet realistic lifestyle, minimize taxes, plan for their estate, understand their cash flow, save for college, claim Social Security, join Medicare, succeed in their businesses, and plan for unforeseen events, as well as make appropriate investment decisions. 

The Profession of the Future 

Why do I care? When I go to conferences, I love to see my male colleagues, but I would also love to see more women there. When I look around, it concerns me that in twenty years, our profession won’t offer enough diverse choices to the public. Recruiting more women is one big step toward providing satisfying careers, while giving consumers more choices, too. 

A couple of years ago I was asked to speak to a large group of high school girls about this career. I was delighted to learn recently that one of the seniors in that group is now a sophomore in the University of South Florida’s personal financial planning program. When she graduates, she will be fully prepared for the rigor of the CFP® exam. 

If you would like a speaker to talk to your school, class, or group about a career in financial planning, please schedule a call, email, or DM me. I’m at @hollypdonaldson and

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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