Research Confirms the Value of CFP® Certification to Female Advisors, Their Firms and Their Clients
Recent research from the Aite Group highlights many distinctive strengths of female CFP® professionals, and identifies an urgent need for firms to recruit more women.
A recent report from the Aite Group analyzing the results of a survey of 400 U.S. financial advisors, in addition to other CFP Board data, reveals the distinctive strengths of female CFP® professionals — and concludes there is an urgent need for firms to recruit more client-facing female advisors who are CFP® professionals. The research underscores the pivotal role that female CFP® professionals are filling in serving a diverse client base and pushing the wealth management industry toward consistently delivering holistic financial planning services to clients.
In an industry that is majority male (80%), wealth management firms should take note of the unique value that female CFP® professionals offer to clients.
In an industry that is majority male (80%), wealth management firms should take note of the unique value that female CFP® professionals offer to clients, when making client-facing hiring decisions. At the individual level, women who are exploring a possible career in financial planning, or who already work in the profession but have not yet earned their CFP® certification, should consider how CFP® certification can help unlock professional growth and fulfillment.
Female CFP® Professionals Offer a Distinctively Valuable Approach to the Financial Planning Process
Firms of all sizes are expanding the areas of advice that their advisors address with clients — and female CFP® professionals are especially positioned for this trend, as they are well invested in providing holistic financial planning services to their clients.
The research reveals that female CFP® professionals are more likely to provide a formal and written financial plan to their clients than male CFP® professionals and other female advisors. For example:
- One third of surveyed female CFP® professionals estimated they provide a written plan to at least three quarters of their clients, compared with 22% of male CFP® professionals and 17% of other female advisors who estimated the same.
- Female CFP® professionals are also more likely to create a six-goal or comprehensive plan (34%) than male CFP® professionals (23%) and other female advisors (18%).
- Honing in on the type of financial advice provided, female CFP® professionals are more likely to provide retirement planning, estate planning, tax and budgeting advice to their clients than male CFP® professionals and other female advisors.
This unique dedication to holistic financial planning, however, does not detract from the quality of investment management services provided by female CFP® professionals. Aite found that female CFP® professionals are as likely as male CFP® professionals to derive a majority of practice revenue from assets under management (AUM) and financial planning service fees.
Firms Can Increase Gender Diversity, Better Serve and Retain A Diverse Clientele
When making hiring decisions, firms would do well to recognize the approach that female CFP® professionals take to building relationships with clients, and should strive to increase gender diversity.
Merrill Lynch found that gender plays a role in financial advisor-client relationships. In a survey of investors, Merrill Lynch found that women who work with a female advisor reported feeling more comfortable discussing financial topics than women who work with a male advisor.
McKinsey & Company research also indicated that women want to work with an advisor to whom they feel a personal connection.
By the year 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that the baby boomer generation will possess.
As just one example of the potential value resulting from this in the next decade, firms stand to attract and retain female baby boomer clients who may prefer to work with female advisors. By the year 2030, women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that the baby boomer generation will possess — and firms staffed with female CFP® professionals will be well positioned to serve this clientele.
By investing in these strong relationships, firms can better serve and retain a diverse clientele that often values working with like-minded advisors.
CFP® Certification Brings Unique Career Benefits to Women
Survey results also indicate that earning the CFP® certification sets women apart, contributing to personal career advancement and building a stronger professional presence with clients.
Nearly a quarter of the surveyed female CFP® professionals own their own business, compared to 9% of other female financial advisors, a notable metric for women who are interested in running their own firms.
On an individual level, surveyed female CFP® professionals report high levels of confidence and satisfaction in their professional abilities. For example:
- Female CFP® professionals are more likely than their male counterparts to self-report high personal satisfaction with many abilities critical to the industry. This includes confidence in working with clients, ability to earn client trust, approach to financial planning and revenue growth.
- More than half of surveyed female CFP® professionals indicated strong career satisfaction, compared to 35% of other female advisors and 42% of male CFP® professionals.
With nearly 70% of female CFP® professionals describing the time and effort required to earn CFP® certification as worthwhile, it is no surprise that female CFP® professionals are also likely to strongly recommend certification to colleagues.
The research underscores the positive impact that the CFP® certification has on empowering women with the skills, experience, and credential necessary for confidence and success in the industry.
Looking Ahead: The Transformative Role of Female CFP® Professionals
“These findings make a compelling business case for increasing the number of women in the financial planning profession,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “The study confirms that financial planning is a rewarding career opportunity, and that CFP® certification is a must-have designation for women.”
The distinctive strengths of female CFP® professionals are significantly valuable to firms in attracting and retaining diverse clients and in maintaining differentiation during a proliferation of digital options.
The unique focus of female CFP® professionals on strengthening their client relationships with personalized service marked by a holistic approach to financial planning is proving critical to shoring up the value of engaging with a human advisor despite a growing number of digital investment providers.
As the wealth management industry seeks to provide the best service possible to the greatest number of people, it is important to offer a diversity of advisors and increase the number of female CFP® professionals offering services to clients.