There’s a gender gap between demographic trends and the financial advisory business. Women have an increasing share of income and wealth
in the United States and globally, but they are underrepresented among financial advisors in the U.S.
BMO Financial Group’s 2015 report, “Financial
Concerns of Women,” reports that women currently
control 51 percent of personal wealth in the U.S. In
addition, they are the primary breadwinners in more
than 40 percent of American households, which is an
almost fourfold increase since 1960.
In contrast, women comprise only 15 to 20 percent
of financial advisors in the U.S. (Some sources cite
a higher percentage but those results can include
securities-licensed sales assistants.) Just 23 percent
of Certified Financial Planner licensees are women, a
figure that hasn’t changed in years, and women com-
prise only 12. 9 percent of the Million Dollar Round
Table’s (MDRT) early-2016 roster. These comparatively
lower numbers raise several questions: Why do fewer
women work as financial advisors? And for advisory
firms that wish to recruit, hire and retain women, what
steps can they take to find the right candidates and
improve their hires’ chances for success?
The business case
An advisor’s gender is not top of mind for most clients.
A 2012 study from the Family Wealth Advisors Council,
“Women of Wealth: Why Does the Financial Services
Industry Still Not Hear Them?” reports that among
married and single women respondents, more than
90 percent did “not have a preference about the gender
of their advisor.” That finding changed among divorced
and widowed respondents, however, with about 25
percent of those groups citing a strong advisor-gender
preference, most frequently for women.
But other sources believe there is a legitimate
business risk from ignoring gender disparity. Most
Americans have become more sensitive to situations
that lack representative diversity. While clients might
be unconcerned about a male-dominated advisory
staff, will prospects feel the same way? Staff diversity
Can we close the advisor gender gap?