Increasingly, clients and investors are seeking financial advisors who can empathize with their unique needs and life experiences and who reflect their communities and values. To build a more diverse financial advisor base, firms have prioritized recruitment.
But how diverse talent is coached, mentored and developed makes all the difference. Once diverse financial advisors are on board, it’s important to inspire them to set and reach their professional goals and provide the support they need to be successful.
Whether you are an advisor yourself or manage a team of advisors, focusing on professional development and programs that provide equal access to opportunities can help operationalize diversity efforts within your organization and lead to greater satisfaction for advisors and their clients.
There is a strong business case for fostering and developing diverse talent, yet progress has been frustratingly slow. Women and other diverse populations are significantly underrepresented in financial services. According to Cerulli Associates, just 16% of advisors are women, a low percentage especially considering that women make great advisors. Not only do they possess the IQ and the EQ required, they are naturally good goals-based planners, which is where the industry is headed. Further, they can help replace the large number of advisors who soon will retire.
As the trend toward client-centered and human-centered advice continues, developing a diverse team of advisors is key to delivering goals-based advice relevant to the unique needs of more communities and more clients. The more precise and personal the approach, the more a broad range of advisors is needed. To stay competitive in a challenging landscape, consider the following strategies to develop talent and improve client outcomes by operationalizing diversity and inclusion in your firm, your practice and your team.
1. Develop an authentic and inclusive environment.
If efforts to develop an inclusive culture are inauthentic or mere window dressing, it will quickly undermine the firm’s credibility and demoralize associates. It’s hard to regain that trust once it’s gone, so be sure program goals are attainable and have wide support. There must be sponsor-led leadership within the firm, practice and team. The objective is to have every associate feel a sense of belonging, acceptance and empowerment.
Developing this type of culture is an investment in better business outcomes. Engaged associates who bring their authentic selves to work function at a higher level, driving their own — and their firm’s — performance.
2. Establish programs that create equal opportunities.
Equal opportunity starts with a fair assessment of each associate’s abilities and strengths. But it must go beyond that baseline to an active campaign to truly equalize opportunity for advancement. That may mean mentoring programs, internal networking opportunities and active advocacy. Business resource groups also serve as a great way to establish a sense of belonging.