Every firm has a diversity and inclusion initiative these days: a women's group, a diversity panel for people of color, a D&I recruiting goal.  How effective are these initiatives in recruiting, retaining and growing diverse advisors?




The percentage of female advisors and advisors of color are persistently low.  Systemically low.  Generationally low!


It's not like we haven't known for a very long time that our advisor force is "pale, stale and male".  It's not like firms haven't been throwing dollars at the problem and making overtures to diverse communities.  What we are doing is not moving the dial.


We have to ask WHY isn't it working!?


When I sit with my girlfriends and contemplate the question over post-conference cocktails we come to the same conclusion every time. 


Recruiting is not enough! 


In the independent world, recruiting female and diverse advisors just means stealing them from another firm.  The industry didn't gain anything, we just moved the pieces on the board.  Firm A now has more and Firm B now has less.


The answer lies in learning to develop, support and grow diverse advisors. 


The key word is LEARNING, because we don’t know how!  Recruiting diverse advisors is great, but if you just throw them into the pit with everyone else and tell them to figure it out, they won't stick!


People from diverse backgrounds face unique challenges that the industry has not taken into account.  Some of those challenges come from socio-economic differences.  Some come from a reduced tolerance for risk.  Some come from cultural differences.


The industry has created a runway that works for one type of advisor, white relatively affluent men.


The eat-what-you-kill sales culture that had been the primary training ground for the industry works for aggressive, type-A, competitive people with a financial safety net and few financial responsibilities.  It also works well for those who can quickly develop networks for rich people to cultivate as potential clients.


If we truly want to diversify the face of industry, we have to be willing to change the dynamics of the training atmosphere and methodology for new advisors.


In her recent blog, advisor Kristin O'Neal shares her perspective on why Black Women are leaving the industry and what we can do about it.  What I love about her blog is that she not only names the problem, but offers an outline for the solutions needed to improve support and retention for Black Women in the industry.


Kristin says, "We've said that Black Women are important and we want to recruit them, but we haven't prepared a space in which they can thrive." and I couldn't agree more!


She also accurately points out that "Women are looking for more detailed and comprehensive training, a system or process they can duplicate, and are less comfortable being in front of a client or prospect without having all the answers."


If we want to broaden the access to financial advice and recruit, retain and grow diverse financial advisors, we have to start by listening to their perspective and then be willing to rethink our training programs.  This will take concerted effort over an extended period of time and a real financial commitment to change.


The ROI on those investments will be seen in a workforce of advisors who can reach new burgeoning markets and an increase in financial literacy and success of our citizens. 


That, to me, is an investment worth making!


With Purpose,




PS If your organization is ready to learn, Kristin is eager to share her perspective and facilitate the conversation.  She is available for speaking engagements and you can schedule a Connection Call with her HERE



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