Saying “Black Lives Matter” is so painfully obvious and insufficient to me that it’s mind boggling that it would be a controversial or political statement, but here we are. The lack of representation is super stark in particular, in the finance and personal finance space. After a career change from educator in NYC public schools to a finance professional, I remember wondering where “everyone else” was at the first networking event I attended. It turned out they weren’t coming. Or even worse, was it the case that they weren’t invited? Of the 85,000 professionals bearing the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) marks, the standard bearer in the financial planning industry, the CFP® reports in their November 2019 “Why Diversity Matters” report (because apparently some people don’t think that it does?):
- 3.7% of CFP®s are People of Color despite making up 31.1% of the general population
- 23% of CFP®s are women despite making up 52% of the population
The industry is as I’ve heard and like to repeat “pale, male and stale.” And that kind of disproportionate representation hurts everyone – those who want access to a lucrative career field and those who want to get informed advice from someone who understands them and their situation. Back in 2017, I chatted with Tatiana Walk-Morris about this exact topic, who wrote the article Where are the women and minorities in financial planning? for Pacific Standard. She stated in her recap, “And with the United States expected to become a majority minority country by 2044, this want for diversity will become not just a social need, but an economic one too.”
We need to do better. I need to do more to ensure that the space I’ve created to empower women is inclusive and intersectional – and in fact, it’s not even about just empowering women, but about empowering anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t “fit in” to the mainstream financial services industry. Here’s what I’m doing about it:
- We will be sending out a demographic survey in the fall to existing clients who are open to participating to get a baseline level of representation among clients so that we can set goals for client representation and monitor improvement over time.
- We will be including and amplifying BIPOC voices in the finance space in our monthly newsletter.
- We will commit to hiring contractors & employees of color at least in proportion to their representation in the general population.
- We will donate to and raise funds for organizations that are working to improve the financial standing of BIPOC communities at least annually.
This might sound straightforward enough, but given the lack of diversity in finance, it will take more effort to find the folks in the field in order to make progress towards these goals. If only 3.7% of CFP®s are people of color, imagine how few are women of color or Trans women of Color, but that is what is required for equality: effort. And we all have to do our part. This is how I will start to make sure Brooklyn Plans is doing ours.