The advisory industry must improve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender diversity and educate itself about what matters to the community, according to Raymond James managing director and Cleveland complex manager Amy Smart.

Doing so would help position advisors to benefit from the transfer of wealth to younger generations, Smart said Monday at a media briefing about the firm’s Pride Financial Advisors Network symposium.

A fifth, or 20.8%, of Generation Z and a tenth, or 10.5%, of millennials identify as LGBT+, Smart said, citing findings from a February 2022 Gallup study.

“This whole next generation of clients and employees, you’re at almost 32% of working people, prospects, clients and heirs to clients that are identifying in the [LGBT+] community,” Smart said.

Some clients may have found comfort in working with an advisor specifically because that advisor is part of the LGBT+ community, according to Smart.

“If as an industry we don’t do a good job bringing diversity in to just replace what we have, not even expand it, we’re going to have a problem,” she said.

The PFAN symposium, which was held from June 26 to 28 in St. Petersburg, Florida, was the second held by the firm and the first held in-person.

PFAN has three goals going forward, according to Thomas Hake, investment management consultant at Hake Investment Group. These include being a voice for Raymond James’ LGBT+ advisors “so that leadership can hear from us to know what things are important to us,” ensuring that all of the firm’s advisors know how to work with LGBT+ clients, and holding events and webinars.

The network holds quarterly webinars on topics such as practice management, according to Hake.

Raymond James aims to impart the same diversity values held by management to the branch level, according to Scott Curtis, president of Raymond James’ Private Client Group.

To that end, the firm rolled out an unconscious bias training program for branch managers of Raymond James & Associates, its traditional employee model, according to Curtis. That program was rolled out in 2018, according to a Raymond James spokesperson.

“We were happy with the results of that program, but that isn’t a one and done. You can’t do that program and expect that people’s minds are going to change by just doing it once. It really requires repetitive education and conversations,” Curtis said.

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