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Why Women Should Consider a Career in Financial Planning

Javacia Harris Bowser  |  April 23, 2021

People need financial advice, yet half of financial advisors may retire within 10 years. Here's why women should launch careers in financial planning.

The financial services industry is changing, and its future is female. In 2020, 40 percent of the new hires at Fidelity Investments were women, a 20 percent increase year-over-year. Last year, Fidelity also saw a 9 percent increase in female customers and is now working with more than 14.5 million women across the country both through employers — managing workplace savings plans — and directly through investor centers, by phone or online.

“For many women, events over the last year have been a catalyst to get more engaged in their finances,” says Fidelity spokesperson Kimberly Reingold. “The firm has seen a consistent uptick in women reaching out for information and guidance to help them address life and work decisions they’re making right now, as well as how to be better prepared for their future.”

If you have ever thought about a career in financial planning, now could be the perfect time for you to take the leap. 

We are seeing a big need for young talent in the financial planning industry,” says DeLynn Zell, CEO and co-founder of Bridgeworth Wealth Management. In April 2020, CFP professionals reported a 78 percent increase in client inquiries as the pandemic progressed. But according to Cerulli Research nearly 40 percent of financial advisors plan to retire in the next 10 years. Zell wants to see women fill that void. 

“Women are a natural fit for financial planning and advising because of their innate ability to be good listeners, build relationships and showcase empathy toward others,” Zell says. “When clients are looking for a financial advisor, they want someone they can trust, and women are able to step into this role with ease.”

Women make up 33 percent of the advisors at Zell’s Birmingham, Alabama-based firm (compared to the industry average of 23 percent for women certified financial planners) and 62 percent of her company’s management team.

“Women also tend to think big picture and possess high emotional intelligence, both of which are crucial in successful financial planning,” Zell says.

Women of Color and the Financial Planning Industry

A recent survey by Fairygodboss, the largest career company for women, and nFormation, a community for and by professional women of color, found that 1 in 3 women of color plans to leave her job by next year. More than anything else, the women surveyed named burnout as their reason for leaving. (Read our story on the topic here!) 

Could the financial planning industry offer women of color a more rewarding career? D.A. Abrams, managing director of the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, thinks so. 

“Americans are seeking financial advice more now than ever and that’s creating opportunities for individuals — including women and people of color — to join the financial planning profession,” Abrams says. “It’s a huge opportunity and it’s a very rewarding career.”

The U.S. News & World Report included financial advisor in its list of top five Best Business Jobs and top 25 Best Paying Jobs.

“With the financial services industry women have a lot of different options,” Abrams says. “You can pick and choose your lane. If you want more of a work-life balance, there are firms that address that need.”

Studies have shown that an increasing number of women prefer to work with a female advisor. 

“Women make up at least 51 percent of the population and a lot of firms aren’t anywhere close to that, Abrams says. “Women have a great deal of spending power, so it just makes a lot of sense for businesses to bring women in and keep them there.”

Furthermore, people of color also have a great deal of buying power and should see people who look like them working at the firms they turn to for help with their finances. That means hiring more women and more people of color at financial services firms is not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.

“That’s not to say that if you bring in people of color that they’re only going to service people of color,” Abrams says. “But I have to know that the firm is inclusive in order for me to even want to do business with them.”

How the Financial Planning Industry Can Attract More Women

Companies like Fidelity are working hard to attract more women. They’re using AI to rewrite job descriptions with more inclusive language and offering exceptional benefits such as education reimbursement, generous paid family leave benefits, adoption assistance, backup childcare, an autism and behavior needs navigator and more. To better retain female employees, Fidelity has created employee networks to help women connect and thrive.

But Zell believes the work starts early and at home.

“Typically, we see father figures speak to their sons and young boys about finances and business, and they very rarely will have these conversations with their young girls,” Zell says. “Introducing these conversations at an earlier age can be key to planting the seed that this is a viable career option for women.”

Moreover, Zell believes colleges and universities should also invite local financial advisors to speak to students about the profession. Fidelity strives to expose high school and college-age female-identifying students to financial services careers through its Boundless program. 

How to Start Your Career in Financial Planning 

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the financial services industry, Abrams recommends checking out the CFP Board’s Career Guide for students and career switchers. 

“The purpose of this guide is to not just raise awareness of the career but also to demystify the different career paths within financial planning and to provide guidance on hiring and training and compensation,” Abrams says. 

You could opt for becoming a certified financial planner who works at a firm, or you could one day start your own. You could be a para-planner, someone who supports a financial planner in client services and operations. You could also be an investment advisor or a wealth advisor for a local bank. Over 300 colleges and universities across the county have programs with a concentration in financial planning that will prepare you to take the certified financial planner exam, Zell says. 

“New issues and economic pressures have created more need for financial advice,” Zell says. “By bringing more women into the field, an increased number of clients will be served and can specifically benefit from the life experiences and unique perspective women bring to the table. What better time for women to enter the field!”

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