Wanted: More Women to Become Financial Planners

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Female financial advisers
Countless studies show that women are better investors than men -- for one thing, women exhibit more self-control and don't tend to jump in and out of the stock market, which eats away at investment returns. Women save a higher percentage of their income than men, even though they typically earn less money than their male counterparts. Women are also more focused on comprehensive financial planning, instead of focusing solely on investment returns.

Need stock tips and help deciding the best Social Security claiming option and guidance on preparing an estate plan and input on long-term care strategy? That's the kind of holistic planning that plays right to women's strengths. But good luck finding a female adviser to guide you.

Where Are All the Women?

You'd think the financial planning profession would be a natural magnet for women, with their relationship-building skills and empathetic nature. Turns out, that's not the case.

In fact, as few as 8 out of 100 financial advisers are female, according to a study conducted last year by Cerulli Associates, and just 23 percent of Certified Financial Planners are women.

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It's not the education requirements that are standing in the way. Professional fields like law and medicine have gained more gender parity, even given their more rigorous levels of education and time commitments. (Requirements obtain the CFP designation include a bachelor's degree, academic courses, a comprehensive board exam, and at least three years of professional experience.)

Yet the percentage of female CFPs hasn't budged in the past decade. And it's not as if the number of people in the field isn't growing: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the financial advising industry will grow by roughly 32 percent over the next decade.

Addressing the Gender Gap

So why don't women more readily enter this field? That's something the Certified Financial Planner Board wants to find out. It recently announced an initiative to increase the number of women entering the profession. As part of this effort, the CFP Board has formed a Women's Initiative Advisory Panel to help identify the challenges women face when entering the financial planning field and craft solutions for addressing this gender gap.

Once considered a traditionally masculine profession focused on selling products and executing trades, the financial services industry has become more advice-oriented. But until this industry does a better job of attracting and retaining more women in the financial planning ranks, it's doing a grave disservice to all investors.

Motley Fool contributor Nicole Seghetti writes about personal finance, retirement, and investing. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti.
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