Closing the diversity gap in the planning industry

Trader Talk

In April, as the coronavirus pandemic tore through America’s most vulnerable communities, more than 40 women advisors and other staff at Dynasty Financial Partners turned from their portfolios and news feeds to virtually attend the firm’s latest women’s network gathering.

It was a particularly strong showing that day; members were anxious to learn and share ideas about supporting their clients, their families and themselves during the crisis. This commitment is what CEO Shirl Penney had in mind when he helped develop the women’s network about three years ago.

“The initiative allows people to get together and talk about some really important issues,” CEO Shirl Penney told me during an interview at Dynasty’s New York City office earlier this year. “It’s a confidential, safe environment.”

The network benefits the company as well.

“I’m really proud to say that, in an industry that’s still sub-20% women in financial services and wealth management, Dynasty is roughly 45% female,” Penney says. “We need to do as much as we can to encourage more people to come into the profession. We have a talent gap right now, and it’s on all of us to act on it.”

Individuals, as well as networks, can make a difference when it comes to tackling diversity and inclusiveness challenges in the industry, as Sonya Dreizler writes in her column, “Why white advisors need to talk about race.”

It took Dreizler years to be able to talk about the topic frankly, she writes. The perceived taboo is so powerful, she says, that her heart still races when she broaches it.

But the effort, she tells me, is vital to building an industry that attracts America’s most talented planners, from all walks of life.

As she writes, “Everyone in financial services should be working toward an industry in which every professional feels they belong.”

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