‘Stories and scars:’ CFP Board diversity summit spotlights difficult road ahead

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“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

That’s one of the primary messages the CFP Board is trying to send as part of its ongoing efforts to improve diversity inclusion in the planning profession.

“Young people will want to see people who look like them. All young people, not just young people of color,” Phuong Luong, a CFP and founder of Just Wealth, said at the board’s Diversity Summit at the Times Center in New York.

It’s a sentiment that’s also backed by research on how minorities thrive — and fail — in corporate workplaces, according to panelist Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology at Harvard University.

“We have a national problem with figuring out how to attract people [of color], keep them and move them into management,” Dobbin said.

The board’s inaugural Diversity Summit builds on mounting industry interest in improving its historically dismal record on growing the ranks of minorities and women in wealth management.

A mere 3.5% of CFP holders in 2017 were black or Latino, according to the CFP Board. There are currently about 82,000 CFP professionals.

“Obviously, this was significantly less than their share of the overall population,” CFP Board CEO Kevin Keller told attendees. “This is a systemic problem that cannot be addressed by any one organization, firm or individual. It requires getting people engaged, identifying solutions and take action.”

Looking beyond CFP holders, a mere 6% of financial advisors are Black even though they constitute about 13% of the U.S. population, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

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