The persistent underrepresentation of women among Certified Financial Planners (about 23%) led the CFP Board to launch a Women’s Initiative (WIN) to study the problem. That research now has been released and it finds that women CFPs like their profession but struggle with its pervasive gender biases.

Among the potential problems that the CFP white paper says deserve further investigation are why women more than men lack adequate information about financial planning careers; whether prevalent business models and compensation methods are unattractive to women; how gender bias and discrimination hinder women’s advancement or dissuade them from entering the profession; whether concerns about work-life balance deter women from considering a CFP career; and the lack of visible role models, networks and professional development programs for women in the profession.

On the matter of work-life balance, the report finds that women’s concerns about that challenge are not a major factor in preventing them from pursuing CFP certification. “But firms still behave as if work-life balance is predominantly a woman’s issue.”

While concluding that gender bias and discrimination exist, the WIN research also finds that women bear some responsibility for their lack of advancement. “Women’s reluctance to take professional risks may be keeping them from entering the financial planning profession. For those women in the profession, this same risk aversion may be inhibiting their success and/or personal satisfaction.

The report offers several recommendations on how to attract more women to the profession through communications programs. Other recommendations cover how to make the profession more attractive to women.

The report, “Making More Room for Women in Financial Planning Profession,” is an interesting example of a business organization trying to assess and correct hurdles that hinder women’s careers. Read it and share your thoughts about its purpose, methodology or conclusions. Join the conversation at

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