Hannah: You have this long resume as one of the most influential women, one of the most influential people in the financial services field. How did somebody get to be in your position?
Kate: You know, it’s funny because you don’t think when you start out, “I’m going to be that person.” You think, “okay, I’m going to get the first job and I want a raise, I want a title.” Your mindset’s much different when you start out. But the one thing I think I always did was I liked to do something until I mastered it and then I was curious about the next thing. It wasn’t necessarily what’s the next thing that’s going to get me to that position, it’s, “What’s the next thing that I think I’m going to learn that’s going to be really interesting and that I’m interested in?”
I started out in accounting and finance and went into marketing because they told me that my finance job was communications. It wasn’t, but I’m like, “Okay.” And then I was like, “well, marketing’s kind of fun.” So I was with the marketing people, but then my company merged with another company, we all lost our jobs and I trained as a financial planner. I’ve taken on a lot of different steps to get me.
I think trying to train as a financial planner is what has really sparked my passion for … This was the early 90s. I was one of two women in the office training for the job. I hated the selling part. I was actually studying for the CFP and the company made me stop studying. I had taken two parts to the test and they made me stop because it was interfering with cold calling. It was just a whole different environment then. I was like, this just isn’t for me but I love what financial planners are doing. I love the help that they’re giving. How can I be connected to it in some way?
Probably the second half of my career almost was always in support of a financial advisor, financial planner role through many different business models as I evolved myself into first it was the insurance financial planner, then it was the broker-dealer model, independent maybe… wire-house and then the RA model where I felt like that’s the place where I really feel like this all fits together and it’s holistic and we’re doing what’s right for the client, so whatever I could do to support that was something that was my passion.
Hannah: There’s a lot of talk about career paths in financial planning-
Hannah: And you know, this thing that everybody talks about, just a straight career path to be the lead advisor, but you’re in financial planning. You’re one of the most influential people in financial planning and you’re really supporting financial planners.
Hannah: I bet that’s a really interesting case study.
Kate: That’s interesting, I never thought about it that way but you’re right because it’s not all about being the advisor and bringing in clients. There are people who do that and are fantastic at it. But financial planning has grown as such a professional and there is a need for so many different roles. We need financial advisors, we need paraplanners, we need compliance people, we need risk people, you need operations people. Those are fantastic career paths in and of themselves.
I went down a marketing path for a lot of time and that also, just from a content perspective I learned so much about planning and planning techniques. I used to do advanced marketing for some of the insurance companies, and so it just brought concepts to bare. It really kept every day interesting. I was always learning something new, and that was part of it as I talked about my own career progression. I never said, “I want to be that person up there.” I want to be up there somehow, but I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I want to learn things that make me interested and hopefully more valuable.
And so I did that lateral career. I sometimes took maybe not so much a step back but a step sideways and learned something and a new skill and maybe did some operational work for a while. I had my finance and accounting in the background and then went into marketing, all these different areas, just to kind of, looking back, round out my skill set. I can’t say that I had a big strategy of saying, “Okay, you need to fill in all these different buckets before you’re going to be a well-rounded individual. I was looking for things that looked interesting that I thought could continue to help me learn and build on my curiosity about the profession, how people deal with money and all things like that.
Hannah: So your curiosity was your career path, not this ambition to get to the next level?
Kate: Yeah. I think so, I really think it was curiosity. How do I learn? That looks cool. What are those people that sit over in that department doing? Why don’t I try that out? I think it’s interesting, back to career paths, a lot of it is networking in the office. Obviously I’ve worked for larger firms but it’s getting to meet people through extra-curricular work activities maybe. It was a networking group or a charitable group, something like that that got me exposed to different areas.
I was in one of my roles and I was in a marketing role but I was really fascinated by something we were doing to help advisors get smarter about providing the right solutions to clients. So they had this casting call for someone to do and I did almost a second job to do this, with my first job, and I was writing cases for practice management almost for people. They chose me over one of the attorneys on the team so I was like, “All right. This is cool. I can do this.” This is something extra, but I put in the effort. I was actually doing two full-time jobs to be able to have them recognize me and say, “Now there’s a new role for you because you’ve proven yourself and we see that you can do this and maybe something we didn’t think of before, but now let’s start to create a role around this.”
Hannah: And this was in the 90s you’re saying, right?
Kate: Yeah. I’m old.
Hannah: We’ll talk more about women in the profession in a bit but you’re 90s a woman in finance. What was that like?
Kate: It’s funny. I actually started in finance in the 80s and I didn’t notice that there was, in my group, in my department, I started out in accounting and it probably wasn’t 50/50 but there were women there. I had peers and it never seemed like we were isolated but what I noticed was, and this was one of the things that I think the reason why I focused on this is as I went up in my career, I started to lose my peers. The friends that I started with were no longer in the business. Some had families and through other circumstances but they weren’t coming back into the workforce. It didn’t seem like a friendly place for them and some of them now, they’re totally out of financial services. They became teachers or they just went another route. I thought what’s going on? What’s different? Why aren’t people being supported?
I think that’s why I have a passion on how do we help support people in this profession and what are doing to help them stay here? Because women’s lives take a different path than men’s, a lot of times. If you’re going to get married and have a family, sorry, the woman’s having the baby. It’s going to happen, it’s going to be different, so what are we doing to support them? How can we do that and how could I have kept the friends I had from the 80s if you will and have them still be in this profession today, 30-something years later? I think as I eventually went through my career, that’s when I noticed it was getting thinner and thinner at the top or places I was where would go in to …
I remember being in place and I was speaking at a conference but I was also, because I was marketing, I was running the conference. A woman who worked at the hotel said to me, “Wow, you’re the only women in this room. You must be really smart.” I looked at her and said, “Or really stupid for being here.” Why am I the only woman in the room? Something’s not right here. In financial services that I am the only woman in the room out of 50 advisors and home office management. That’s not right.
Hannah: And we’ll talk more about what … I know you guys’ have done a lot of research on this and you’re a really big advocate for this, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But what’s your official title at TD Ameritrade now?
Kate: My official title is managing director of generation next. I was not the cool one to come up with the title. It’s pretty much a play on next generation but it’s kind of … because when I talk about the next generation, it encompasses different things for us. When I speak of next generation, I don’t just mean millennials, I mean anyone who’s not here today because that’s what we’re looking for. That includes millennials, it includes women, it includes men who still need to become CFP’s, it includes career changers, former military, people returning to work, diverse populations that aren’t in this profession. We look around, we’re getting better but we still have a long way to go. Whoever is not at the table today is our next generation.
Hannah: I love that. So good. What’s the average day, week or month look like for you?
Kate: That’s funny. I was thinking about that when you sent over that question, I thought what does the average day for me look like? I would say there’s probably seasonality to it. Right now, we’re in spring time conference season so my average day looks a lot different. I’ve been on the road for a couple weeks and I will be for a few more weeks, so the average day is really early calls, going to the airport early, getting on a plane and coming here to retreat. I’ll be heading to two women’s conferences next week. I’m flying out tomorrow morning to go to the American College with Jocelyn Wright. She’s hosting a round table. There’s a lot of different things that happen in the spring and the fall from a speaking perspective.
Then there’s a lot of prep calls. I think I did four prep calls for speaking engagements of the next month last week. On one day. I’m like, I’m starting to get confused. I’ve got to keep this all straight now. But, I also just came from our own TD Ameritrade leadership session, so we’re getting ready for our 2019 planning and we just had a fantastic offsite where we really challenged ourselves to think of new ideas. We had a great session with our advanced tech team and how can we take technology and really use that to advance us to the next level and change advisors and clients lives?
Then there’s a lot of coming up with content. I do a monthly blog, Advocate, another name I did not come up with. I have very creative teams back at TD Ameritrade. Social media. And then trying to do more internally to let everyone know what we’re doing. Then I sit on a couple of boards. I’m a trustee for the Foundation for Financial Planning. They’re here today. As well as Invest in Others, which is a foundation that provides award grants to advisors that are doing well, who are doing a lot of great work with charities. We just finished the nomination period for the 2018 awards, so there’s usually quarterly board meetings with that. I sit on the TD Ameritrade’s diversity inclusion steering committee. We have monthly steering committee meetings. We’ll have an annual conference coming up in about a month or so, but I also sit on the recruiter pillar. We meet more frequently and figure out what can we do to help attract more people into financial services? More women, more people of color, what are the things that are holding them back?
We’ve done some things like we write our jobs descriptions. We’ve got experience requirement are different if you’re in the military. We’re not going to ask you for things that might be on a regular job description because you’ve been in the military. You’ve done so many more things that are probably more relevant and going to make you a great employee. One of the words that we think we can make sure are not going to turn someone off from a job. We know that women are less confident when they apply to jobs, so how do we change the wording or the way we list our jobs so that people feel more empowered to apply for them, and then finally how do we train our hiring managers to really look for potential, not experience? Because if we look for experience, we’re going to have the same people in the seats. We have to give people a chance and start to look for the potential for someone to do a job to start to bring in the more diverse populations that we want.
Hannah: That’s interesting you talked about how the job description is worded. This may be an obvious dumb question, but does that really make a difference?
Kate: It does, right? Think about how you’ve looked at a job. I know myself. I have looked at jobs in the past and said, “Oh, I can do maybe a third of that. There’s no way that job is for me.” But maybe it is. I’ve had great bosses who sometimes have said, “There’s a position open.” I’m like, “Okay but I can’t do that. I’ve never done that before.” I remember a woman hiring me at a company. I had come out of a marketing role and I was moving into a product management role, and I was going through all the interviews great and I finally was sitting with the lead boss and I just said to her, “You know I’ve never done this before, right? I just want to make sure no one’s pulling the wool over your eyes.” And she said, “I knew that but I can tell by your skill set that you can do it.”
Those are the kinds of things that we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking away the barriers of someone having less confidence in themselves to do it. So yeah, it is simple things like that. But sometimes the words you use. College degree required, 10 years of experience. Nice to have. Well, is it nice to have or do I have to have 10 years? Or, is two years but on a trajectory, does that help? All these different nuances that can happen, so we really got to look at how do we do that and is it a job description? Do we start to use social media to differentiate how the jobs go or to show what a job is. We’re trying to do things like what’s a day in the life of a job at TD Ameritrade looks like so that people can get more empowered, to see what it looks like to be in the office, talk to associates, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook and get their stories out there.
Hannah: Oh, that’s great. Let’s talk about new planners and the incredible town that’s coming into our profession right now.
Kate: It’s amazing.
Hannah: I’m blown away when I talk to them.
Hannah: It’s absolutely incredible.
Kate: And I love how you don’t consider yourself a new planner anymore.
Hannah: Oh, gosh.
Kate: It’s just a few years ago.
Hannah: Oh my gosh, I know. As you’ve been traveling around the country and feeling your role with TD Ameritrade and meet all these new planners, what have you been most impressed by?
Kate: You know, they’re so bright. They’re so bright and they’re so passionate. What I love is the passion that they have for financial planning but more importantly for their clients. That is what drives. We’re here at FPA Retreat and you think about the passion that is encapsulated in this place here. They have that 10-fold. They’re so passionate about helping their clients in the way that applies to them now. Not just, “How do I manage your assets?” It’s “How do I help you get to a point where you’ll have assets? How do we get you through the student debt problems, the worrying about how you pick your retirement plans, is this the right time for you to move across the country to take that job?” They’re coming up with new service offerings that we’ve probably needed in this profession for years to be able to deal with more people.
So many people don’t go to a financial advisor because they don’t have money. They think, “I can’t afford to pay for them.” Or, “They’re going to laugh at me if I walk into their office with the tiny amount of assets or retirement plan assets that I have.” New planners, the fact that they have a degree in financial planning has put them at the forefront from a knowledge perspective. I think so many of them are doing a great job of being mentored or finding mentors or mentoring other people to learn more about it. I’ve been coming to retreat for seven or eight years now and the past two or three years really seeing so many more young advisors here, it’s fantastic.
That shows me that not only are they passionate about it but they know they need to learn and they’re learning from the best. I think that they’re elevating this profession. They’re doing the right things and their feelings on the inclusion part of who should be in this profession and who this profession should provide for is going to be a hallmark of how we finally break through and create much more awareness about not only what a great career this is but what a need this is and how important this is for all Americans to have some financial planning to help them with their financial futures.
Hannah: Yeah, the innovation. Has anything surprised you?
Kate: Yeah. Tons of things. I think the students. I spend a lot of time with students. How quickly the financial planning programs are growing I think is fantastic. We’ve been bringing students to our conference for nine years now and the first year we brought 10 students. This year we had 56 students and it never ceased to amaze me how smart they are.
One of the things that surprises me still is that advisors aren’t engaging with them as much as they should. We had all these advisors at our conference last year and we provide opportunities for advisors to network with them. All their resumes are on our, we have a resume portal, Ranextgen.com. I had an advisor call me a week after the conference say, “Kate, I know you had all the students there but I really didn’t talk to them and I need a next gen financial advisor.” I was like, “Are you kidding? There were 55 of them in a room that you were invited to.” He was like, “I know, I just didn’t think.”
It surprises me that advisors aren’t thinking ahead from a strategic perspective. There should always be a pipeline of talent. You should always be looking for talent and you should always be talking to someone. Not enough of them are going to the universities and forming relationships with the program directors, because the program directors are fantastic. They know all the students. The programs aren’t that big. They know all the students, what their strengths are, what kind of firms they’re going to do well in and provide. It’s your personal pipeline of talent. So, it surprises me that advisors aren’t as far ahead as I would love them to be in hiring that talent.
Hannah: And those program directors, they give the best of the best.
Kate: They do, they really do.
Hannah: When you have those relationships.
Kate: They do. Yeah. Absolutely.
Hannah: What are the industry trends or professional trends that new planners need to know or need to be aware of?
Kate: There’s so much going on. The regulatory world is never going to go away. We have DOL, we don’t have DOL. It’s fiduciary, it’s SCC fiduciary now. I’m not an expert on it but that’s something that you have to keep in contact with whether it’s your custodian, your broker dealer, whoever it is you work with to make sure you’re on the right side of that. The associations, I know FPA and NAPFA have a coalition and do so much around advocacy. That is not going away and it’s not going to get any less complicated.
But technology is really interesting. There’s so much technology, there’s so many ways to use it. I mentioned we were at this off-site and we were actually talking a lot of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and how we can use hta.t I think that there’s such a way for financial planners to be able to work with so many more people and in a much more relevant way. I just came from a panel session where we talked about financial advice isn’t a quarterly meeting. It has to be integrated in someone’s life in all the moments that are going to matter for them. I think that really paying attention to what’s going on in the technology front and not being afraid of it.
It is frightening, some of it. What do you mean, are all our jobs going to go away? It’s not. We’re always going to have a need for humans. Jobs are going to evolve. I think technology is going to help us get to more people and be able to democratize financial planning in many ways. I think that there is so much going on. It’s important for advisors to not be afraid of that. I know sometimes you’re in your office and you’re overwhelmed. You’re running your business, you’re managing your employees and all of that and then there’s this big world out there where things are happening. We’ve got self-driving cars and Amazon’s going to drop your packages off in your car trunk and all of these different things. It’s how do you take a look at that and think about, “How can I take the technology out there to enhance my client experience and to make sure that my clients are getting the best holistic financial planning they can?”
Hannah: It’s that same innovation and curiosity that’s been a hallmark of your career. That’s really going to help new planners as they navigate this.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely.
Hannah: We’ve talked about this a little, but how do you see new planners shaping the profession?
Kate: I think just by the sheer demographics that are going to happen, which is exciting because I think there’s so many efforts going on to create a more diverse financial planning workforce. We need to do all of those. By no means do I mean that demographics is going to fix it because it’s not, but it’s going to help. It’s funny, one of the things we talked about yesterday. We were just talking about there’s some apps that will help you age to see what you look like at 60 and 70 and it makes it easier for people to visualize why they should save for retirement because it’s a hard concept. If you’re 25 years old, the money that you need at age 70 isn’t a real concept. Showing you what you would look like then makes you start to think about if I’m 70, I’m going to need money. How do I get that?
I started to think, God, I would love to take that app and instead show people what the world is going to look in 2045 because it’s going to look so vastly different, even America, then it does today. By 2045, there will be no majority of race in this country. There will be all minorities. We will al become a minority. There will be no majority. So think about that. Think about what your neighborhood is going to look like, your financial planning business is going to look like. The world, your clients, your neighbors, everyone is going to look so different. Do you really want to miss out on that because you don’t want to take some of the pain right now to hire more diverse people into your business? You’re giving up. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s an imperative for your business because the world is going to look so different. It’s important to think about what your world is going to look like. It’s not that far away. Five, 10, 15, 20 years. That’s less than a generation. It’s really important for advisors to think about how different the world is going to look.
Hannah: We’ve been doing a history of financial planning series-
Kate: That’s so cool.
Hannah: Yeah. We’ll air them on the podcast. It’s so interesting to hear all these older planners talk about how much change they’ve seen in their career.
Hannah: It’s like, oh my God, these new planners are coming out. The change that they’re going to see in their career is going to be possibly just as much or even more.
Kate: I feel like at the rate of change even more so. I think about my career from the mid-80s to now. Okay, God, I’m dating myself but I was one of the few people in my company to have a computer in 1986. They sent the board of directors to watch us because we had our own computers. There weren’t a lot of innovations. Okay, then we got email, then we got somethings. But the speed of which change has happened in I would say even the last five years is so incrementally outrages compared to what it was for the first 20 years. I think that is just going to continue.
I don’t know if you follow singularity concept at all or things about that. It’s the expansion of Moore’s law and how fast things are going to go and the architecture and the integration of technology and medical, all of that. Why we’re going to live to 140 years and all those kinds of things. This rate of change is no longer progressing at 1X, 2X. It is 10X, it’s 100X. People have to be prepared for change because that is not going away and it’s something that we all have to get used to.
Hannah: In the context of new planners, what do say new planners need to know today?
Kate: They need to know that they have a great skillset but that there’s a lot that they can still learn from the advisors who came about this a different way. We might have learned on the job, they probably learned in a sales role, but there’s some great relationship management and business management that they can continue to learn from them. I think it’s imperative. When we’re young, we all get frustrated with anyone who’s blocking our path to the top or someone who might be trying to school us on some things. We need to also be a little patient. It’s smart to be patient, to say there is a value to advisors who we can learn from.
The world is different. The world now is such a different world than the one that they started in, so change might be a bit slower for them but advisors will get there. It can be imperative for the younger advisors to help advisors that they may be working for and show them. It’s not easy. Think about when you show your parents the iPhone or how to text, how to get on social media, all those kinds of things. There might be a bit of a longer learning curve, but it’s going to be beneficial for everyone. I think there’s a lot of synergies between the maturity and the business and having seen cycles and human emotions through all different stages of someone’s life that can be really helpful and having a younger advisor help bring in other aspects and their point of view to that is useful.
Hannah: You’re not only an advocate for young planners but you’re also very much for people who are outside of where we are today. That includes women and a lot of the diversity inclusion.
Hannah: And so this topic unfortunately can be really divisive and it’s one where I’ve heard people say that the inclusion feels like exclusion.
Hannah: I’ve heard that several times from people. “I’m not a woman, this doesn’t apply to me. Why do you keep harping about women? I’m important too.” What would you say to people who don’t fall into those categories of women or larger diversity?
Kate: It’s hard. It’s not that we don’t want them. I always tell people I want women in this profession, I want men in this profession. We need more people in this profession. We’re going to be short 10,000 advisors by 2020. The financial planning programs alone are not enough to graduate enough students to come into financial planning so we need a large scale. But when you think about the different diverse audiences and that women control so much wealth, we have to have people with different points of view. It’s important. We don’t want to be exclusionary to anyone.
I spoke last year and I asked all the men in the audience to ask permission but to join the women’s initiatives at their firm because it’s not fair for us as women to say we’re going to do this, we need your help. A lot of times men are in leadership roles, but a lot of times they don’t know what the issues are because we haven’t told them, so it’s not fair to say there’s this help that we need. One of the things that I do, TD Ameritrade is the lead founding sponsor for the Center for Financial Planning and we do a lot with the women’s counsel, the diversity counsel and the workforce development counsel. Last year, there were 1,250 new women CFP’s. It’s an incredible number. It’s something to be proud of.
But, it didn’t move the percentage. Some people were a little disappointed that there wasn’t growth and I said, “Are you kidding? That means there were just as many new male, and more male from a percentage perspective, advisors. That’s awesome. Think of all the new CFP’s we got. We want women, we want men, we want folks of diversity. We’ve got to work together and figure out how do we all help each other to raise each other up? We’re nowhere near a point where we’re taking jobs away from anybody to give it to anyone else. I think most people believe in meritocracy but there are things that … There are gaps from a people perspective that we’ve got to fill in the numbers and I think we can all learn from each other.
I talked a little about that fear of missing out, but you really need to have all diverse points of view to help you build out a financial planning practice. I hear people say that. A couple times I’ve actually asked people to change the title of some of our sessions to say it’s not a women’s session or it’s not this because men need to hear the message too. We shouldn’t be exclusionary. We can’t shut people out. We’re doing a session here after this on diversity in this business and I would love to have the room filled with men and hear their thoughts. We’re all in this together, right? How do we help each other deal with this and make sure that we’re getting the right diversity in here.
Really, diversity is one piece of it but how are we making sure that they feel included and that we’re hearing their voices and they have a seat at the table? Because that’s really where you shift the power and the balance of power. We all get smarter. Harvard has done studies on teams with high IQ’s actually perform less well than teams that have women on them. That probably sounded bad the way I just said it, but adding women to a team makes a team collectively smarter. That’s just science, so why wouldn’t we do that? Why wouldn’t we have women on a team to make it smarter? We probably need to do that same research around people of color, minorities, folks coming in from other careers. All of those different viewpoints are adding to the viewpoints of all your clients and matching that.
Hannah: You have more points to make a better decision.
Kate: Yes, exactly.
Hannah: There’s been a lot of talk. Women in finance has been an ongoing, many year conversation-
Hannah: What can we do, or rather, what have you found that other professionals are doing that’s really help move the needle in this regard?
Kate: You know, I think one of the most important things that we need to do as women is to talk about it. Tell your story. I say this, I stole it from Cathleen McGuigan. I think she stole it from someone else, but you can’t be what you don’t see. So if you don’t know that you could be a financial planner as a woman, it’s never going to be a career that you’re going to look for. I’m really gratified by … There were 400 WIN advocates who, it’s over 400 now I think, who are mentoring women taking the CFP exam. It’s a much great number.
We’re actually going out and speaking to groups of women, girl scouts, school programs, to talk about what they do and to talk about that professional to raise that awareness level. Right now, there’s a great session going on at the University of Akron. Barry Mulholland is doing diversity summit. What I love is he’s brought in the people who are the decision makers, who help students figure out what their career should be. He’s gotten guidance counselors, he has girl scout leaders, he has all the people in there who can help influence someone in the career that they have.
I think the more that we all talk about this career that it’s phenomenal for women and showcase women. You know, the CFP pro campaign where we’re showing diverse millennial women and men in this career so people can visualize themselves and say, “This could be something I could do.” Because if you don’t see it, if you don’t see someone in your world, if you don’t have a financial planner, if your parents don’t have one, if your neighbor isn’t a financial planner, you have no knowledge that this exists. It’s never going to be something that you’re going to look and aspire to.
Hannah: Well, the population of how many clients are served by financial planners right now is so small.
Kate: It’s so small. That’s why I believe that none of this is competition. There’s such room for so many more people in this profession: for women, for men, for minorities, for people coming back to work. It’s a great place for people.
Hannah: You mentioned WIN advocates. Can you talk about that program and what it is?
Kate: Yeah. The WIN advocates, it’s part of the CFP Board’s, the Center for Financial Planning, and they actually equip the advocates with presentations, talking points, things like that so if they want to go out and talk to somebody, they don’t have to think, “I want to do this but what do I say?” Here’s a presentation that you can do. The CFP board put it together and it’s slides that talk about what you do, this profession, why it’s so advantageous to women, how you can do well.
We find that so many people who enter this profession think about it because they want to help people. They go into sociology or they go into psychology or some other field because they didn’t know about this. Once they learn about it then they realize they can do well, help people and make money. It’s a way for them to raise awareness at their local level because we’re doing a lot of efforts at the Center for Financial Planning, at TD Ameritrade, each company is doing things collectively, which is awesome, but this still needs to be a grassroots effort.
Each one of us has to talk to our daughters, our nieces, our clients daughters and sons and folks of color, people that are not in this profession and don’t know about it to just share the story because they don’t know about it. The more that we can each do and tell people … I’m trying to convince my hairdresser right now to become a financial planner because I’ve watched her do this and help out her parents. She has such a caring … She wants to help people and she’s really upped her game on financial concepts and all of that. I’m like, “You could start to take some classes and study for this. You’re still going to have to do my hair, but you can be a financial advisor.”
Hannah: You know, I heard somebody say that if we all brought one person in, we’d have 80,000 more CFP’s.
Kate: Oh, Hannah. It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Why don’t we all just do that? Probably won’t fit here at Wigwam, but why don’t we all just do that? One more person. Everybody just bring one and then they bring one and they bring one. That’s really what we have to do.
Hannah: Is there anything else with the Center for Financial Planning that you want to highlight or any other work that you’re doing right now that you want to focus and showcase?
Kate: Yeah. At the Center for Financial Planning, we started out with doing the women’s initiative. That probably started three or four years ago, even before the center had really taken shape. We started with research. I think it’s so important. We did the research and we sponsored a white paper and a lot of it was like, yeah, no kidding. We know women don’t come in the professional and we know some of the reasons why. They don’t like the commission sales structure. They’re not aware of the profession. They think there’s a bias to them. But we laid it all out and that enabled us to start to develop these programs like the WIN advocates and the WIN mentoring program. Doing that gives you a pathway.
What I’m excited about is I’m on the diversity committee as well and over the past year, we’ve been doing research on the lack of diverse CFP’s in the profession. Next month, the CFP board will be releasing some of that data to talk about the research that we found in why there are not more people of color in this profession, why they’re not coming into the profession. Very similar to that, what are those things? I’m sure when we see the research findings, we’re going to say, “That’s not a big surprise.” But what it’s going to do is help us build out a road map to say, “While it’s not a surprise, now we know this is really what it is and we can start to quantify it and then start to develop programs to mitigate it. Whether it’s mentorship or whatever the things that we decide we need to do are, we now have a path that we can start to create. We can start to see that.
Four years ago, that’s what we did and last year we had 1,250 new women CFP’s. I am excited for what we’ll do from a diversity perspective. A lot of people working on this but I think just getting it out there because there hasn’t been a lot of research. There’s not a lot of transparency into that. We use the CFP as the conduit to say, “Okay, this is the number of financial planners.” But there isn’t a lot of research around it. Kudos to them for doing this. We’re really glad to support it but I think it’s going to help us all. There’s going to be some hard discussions. It’s not an easy task that we have. It’s hard. There’s a lot of reasons that are probably not good as to why there aren’t more folks of color in this profession. But we need to get past that and then start to create programs to change that going forward.
Hannah: You know, we have all these conversations and it’s all very much that there’s so much work to do-
Kate: There is.
Hannah: Going forward. But could I have you reflect on the work, on the progress that we have made?
Kate: Yeah. It’s hard. I often said this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It’s going to take a long time and it’s hard work. It’s movement, right? This is something and we’re seeing it throughout this country. It’s happening all around, but it is hard work and it takes courage, it takes guts, it takes emotions, you know? You have to figure out how to have the right conversations, how to do the right thing and do it in the right way. We sometimes talk about getting into a room and saying, “Look, I want to have a conversation and I don’t want to offend anyone so let’s just put it out there right now. I may say some things that might offend you and I don’t mean to do that, but let’s have that honest dialogue to go forward.”
Because Hannah, you hit it. This is hard. It’s really hard and there are people who are so dedicated and committed to helping this. The diversity committee that the CFP board put together is phenomenal. We’ve met a couple of times to get ready to do this research and it’s just really powerful hearing people’s stories. I think we’re going to start to hear more and more of that. I think that’s going to help people understand the journey that we’re taking and come along for that journey. We’re not going to get there in five years, but we’re going to see a lot of progress. To your point, we do probably have to take a step back every once in a while and say, “This is progress. This is great to see. How do we start to reward that by showcasing the progress that we’ve made more so that more people see that and there is that multiple kid effect. Everybody bring one in.”
Hannah: What’s your hope for the future of financial planning?
Kate: I just want to see even more people in it. I think being able to offer financial planning to Americans is so needed. It’s always been something that I think is important to families. It’s what holds them together, it’s what advances the family, grows the family. I really also want people to know this is a career that students are clamoring to get in. It’s providing a service to everyone, but it’s a fulfilling career. You can’t feel better than about helping, other than saving a life, but helping people to live their best life by knowing how to use their finances as a tool to help them get there.
Hannah: Just in talking to you and hearing your passion about this, it sounds like there’s something greater that really drives you or is what motivates you. What’s your motivation in the morning? What makes you get up and be excited about your job?
Kate: I just think … To your point, taking a look back every once in a while and seeing that there is progress made, right? I talked about a little of the pipeline when I got into this business it didn’t seem so non-diverse if you will. Then I realized that it was but what I love, when I take a look at all the people that are working on this now. Half of us are competitors. This isn’t an TD Ameritrade issue. This is everyone, and we’re all working together and figure out that how we can help change the face of financial planning. So I love that it’s not competitive. We’ll get into a room with people from different business models and different companies, all of that, but we’re all in it together because so many people are passionate about making this change. I think that’s what is really special about the work that we’re doing.
Hannah: It’s about building a profession.
Hannah: And that super suits any business model, anything. It’s about a profession.
Kate: Exactly. We’re light years away from competing to the level where we’re … We have talent shortages now, but the more awareness that we raise, that’s going to help alleviate that.
Hannah: Absolutely. Is there anything else?
Kate: No, this has been so much fun, Hannah.
Hannah: Oh, good.
Kate: Thank you so much.
Kate: I’m so excited to be on my first podcast. I don’t know if you know this.
Hannah: Oh, really?
Kate: So I hope I wasn’t too nervous but this was the first podcast I’ve ever done.
Hannah: Oh, that’s awesome.
Kate: Very cool.
Hannah: Where can people find you?
Kate: The airport.