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Schwab Advisor Services and the Charles Schwab Foundation are supplying the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning with funding to create a scholarship for CFP certification candidates, including aspiring professionals from underserved backgrounds.

The money, part of a four-year grant, will also go toward the center’s annual Diversity Summit to be held this fall and for further research into improving diversity in the financial planning field. The scholarship amounts will vary and will be awarded to both undergraduates and graduates.

According to D.A. Abrams, managing director for the center, Schwab’s grant means it remains the single largest donor.

“As the center works to attract, onboard and train the next generation of financial planners who can competently and ethically serve the public, we are grateful for the generous support from Schwab Advisor Services and the Charles Schwab Foundation that helps make our vision possible,” he said.

The new grant was announced as the financial services’ lethargic progress on diversity remains an issue for the industry. The Board previously cited growth in the number of female, Black and Hispanic CFP professionals, including a 4% boost in female CFPs from 2020 to 2021, and a growth rate of Black and Hispanic CFPs that was four times the rate of other professionals and a 13.8% increase over the prior year.

But those numbers nevertheless fall far short of mirroring the country’s demographics, with Black CFPs making up 1.8% of all CFPs, Hispanic CFPs making up 2.7% of the total, and biracial Black and Hispanic CFPs representing 0.1%, according to 2021 stats released this past January.

In the industry as a whole, the problem is also clear; in a prior survey by Financial Services Institute and Broadridge Financial Solutions, respondents were 82% male and 18% female, while 93% of respondents reported as White, compared with 2% Hispanic, 2% African American and 4% Asian.

Such initiatives for more diversity in the field is not only ethically essential, but vital for firms to be able to continue competing as younger individuals accumulate more wealth, according to CFP Board Chair Kamila Elliot, who spoke to WealthManagement.com during the WealthManagement EDGE conference in Florida last week.

“Younger generations don’t look for diversity,” she said. “They look for the absence of diversity, and so if you want to get top talent and the best advisors, and you want to grow your firm and grow your revenue, you better have a diversity action plan to be able to sustain yourself.”

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