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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

How CFP Certification Benefits Female Advisors

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What You Need to Know

  • CFP board poll finds that female advisors who obtain CFP certification benefit more from it than their male counterparts.
  • Credentialed female professionals are uniquely qualified to accelerate the transition to a focus on holistic advice aligned to clients’ goals.
  • 74% of female CFP advisors feel more confident in having client trust, vs. 53% of their male counterparts.

New research from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards shows that female advisors who obtain CFP certification benefit more from the credential than their CFP male counterparts.

At a time when wealth management firms must differentiate from competitors and digital investment management providers with personalized services centered on financial planning, the CFP board said credentialed female professionals are uniquely qualified to accelerate the transition to a focus on holistic advice aligned to clients’ goals.

The research was based on an Aite Group survey of 400 U.S. financial advisors conducted in the third quarter of 2019 and on a follow-up survey of 122 advisors fielded by the CFP board to its contact base to increase the sample size of female advisors.

The survey included 80 female CFP professionals and 54 female advisors without CFP certification. The analysis also compared the female CFP professionals with 186 male CFP professionals.

Women’s Leadership

The CFP board, citing research from Merrill Lynch, found that women who work with a female advisor are more comfortable discussing financial topics than women who work with a male advisor.

It said efforts to increase the representation of credentialed, client-facing female advisors are critical to retaining baby boomers’ assets — financial advisors have a poor record of retaining widows’ assets — and to appeal to millennial women, more of whom manage their finances alone than do older generations.

The Aite research found that female CFP professionals are particularly invested in financial planning. Thirty-three percent provide written and multigoal financial plans to three-quarters or more of their clients, compared with 22% of their male counterparts.

On average, female CFP professionals have given retirement planning advice to 80% of their clients, while male CFP professionals have worked with 73% of clients on this topic and female advisors without certification have provided retirement planning to 66% of clients.

Their focus on financial planning does not detract from credentialed women’s investment management responsibilities, according to the research. Female CFP professionals are as likely as their male counterparts to derive a majority of practice revenue from assets under management and financial planning service fees.

In other research findings, female CFP professionals present themselves as more confident than credentialed male professionals in these areas:

  • Client trust: 74% vs. 53%.
  • Confidence in working with clients: 65% vs. 51%.
  • Approach to financial planning: 49% vs. 34%.
  • Revenue growth: 24% vs. 13%.

They also lead in career satisfaction, with 53% expressing satisfaction, compared with 42% of credentialed men and 35% of other female advisors.

Female CFP professionals are likelier than their male colleagues to report that they pursued certification to feel more confident and to enhance their knowledge.

Furthermore, 69% of women surveyed say the effort to obtain certification was worthwhile, compared with 49% of men. A similar breakdown occurs on the likelihood of recommending CFP certification to colleagues.