Only 23% of Certified financial planners are women, and that percentage has not budged in more than a decade.

“The financial planning profession needs to reflect the population it serves,” said Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, executive director of the Center for Financial Planning, in a statement.

This is why the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ Center for Financial Planning announced a new mentorship program, known as WIN-to-WIN.

The program, which is an extension of the CFP Board’s Women’s Initiative (WIN) that launched in 2013, aims to address the lack of women in the financial planning profession by pairing women seeking CFP certification with CFP professionals who will help them through the certification process.

There are currently 300 WIN members, or “advocates” as they call themselves, around the country, according to Eleanor Blayney, CFP Board’s consumer advocate. Of those 300 members, nearly 100 have already signed up to be mentors in the new WIN-to-WIN mentorship program.

According to Blayney, they’ve already received 64 requests by younger female advisors who are seeking the help of CFP professionals. The goal is to get 500 mentees – and enough mentor support for them – signed up by the end of the year. Women that are either interested in or currently pursuing their CFP certification can be mentees.

“We know the basic problem, and we’ve talked about it for two years and it’s basically that we do not have enough women CFPs among CFP professionals,” Blayney said during a recent WIN-to-WIN webinar. “And given the time it takes for certification, this is a long-term process to build the pipeline of women.”

As part of the program, mentees and mentors are expected to have a minimum of two interactions by phone, email or in person. The mentor relationship is intended to last a minimum of six months.

With this program, the CFP Board aims to break down a key barrier to women entering the profession: lack of mentorship.

“We know from research that was done that what’s so important so often to a woman going through the certification process is having a one-to-one engagement [or] conversation with a CFP professional,” Blayney said. “We found that that factor can mean a lot in terms of motivating a woman to complete her certification. What we’re striving to do is very simply provide that connection that improves the outcome for many women.”

According to a 2014 white paper published by CFP Board and its Women’s Initiative, those pursuing CFP certification are much more likely to continue through the process if they have friends or colleagues who had previously taken CFP certification coursework or if they had a CFP professional mentor.

WIN’s research also found that female financial planners who have the CFP certification are more satisfied with their careers than those without certification.

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