The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ first Diversity Summit on Oct. 23 in New York was unlike most advisor-focused conferences. It’s not often (if ever) that you find numerous wirehouse brokers mingling with a bunch of NAPFA fee-only RIAs. I can’t recall seeing RIA custodian leaders like Mark Tibergien of Pershing Advisor Solutions and Tom Nally of TD Ameritrade Institutional in the same room as Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. It’s not usual that the primary sponsors of an advisor event would include both Morgan Stanley and the Charles Schwab Foundation, or that the number of female attendees seemed to match the number of male attendees.
But the most glaring difference from standard advisor conferences was the high number of people of color attending the summit; at most such conferences the number of African-American or Latino or Asian-American advisors would be in the low single digits at most.
That diversity of summit attendees and sponsors and speakers reflected the diversity and inclusion issues that the professional advice-giving industry faces, as noted by CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller in his opening remarks.
Reporting that less than 3.5% of the 82,000 CFPs in the United States were black or Latino, Keller said that the lack of advisor diversity can’t be solved by one individual or group, but rather “requires all of us to be engaged, find solutions, and take action.”
The Summit was convened by the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, which was founded three years ago and is led by Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, Keller said, to address “three systemic issues” faced by the planning profession. Those issues: to increase the number of women and people of color in the profession, to attract younger people to the profession, and to expand the numbers of faculty members at the more than 200 colleges and universities in the country with financial planning degree programs. Keller called the center’s white paper on racial diversity in financial planning a “motivational road map,” saying “now is the time to put words into action” to create a “more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession.”
By James J. Greene
November 7, 2018