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There’s no denying it: Canada’s workforce is getting older, and the financial services sector is no exception.

According to Statistics Canada, one in five adults is nearing retirement. Their exit from the workforce will create significant challenges if we do not take steps to train and recruit new entrants to the workforce. Given that the age of the average certified financial planner (CFP) professional in Canada is 50, this issue will be especially pressing in the financial planning profession.

The current demographics within the financial planning profession tell us that, collectively, the industry needs to build a pipeline of future financial planners. Put simply, we’re going to need more planners, and this means taking deliberate action to attract, train and retain young professionals. Ultimately, how successful we are at accomplishing this will determine the availability of sound financial advice for Canadians in the years ahead.

We already know that financial planning plays an important role in overall financial well-being. In fact, the FP Canada 2022 Financial Stress Index indicates that those who work with financial planners are less likely to cite money as their top concern — and less likely to experience anxiety, depression or mental health issues due to finances. Given the impact that these professionals can have, ensuring that there are enough to fill the void left by incumbent retirees needs to be a priority.

Thanks to another study carried out by FP Canada and Innovative Research Group, we also know that most Canadians don’t currently see themselves reflected in the profession. Just 26% of Canadians agree with the statement “financial professionals often look a lot like me.” Cleary, we need to not only replenish the profession with new talent but also make sure that the pipeline we’re building is as diverse as possible.

One of the first steps will be enhancing the public profile of financial planning as a rewarding career option. The profession often attracts those who are embarking on a second career or who already have experience working in the financial services sector. These individuals already understand the many benefits a career as a financial planner offers. But to reach enough prospective planners to meet future demand, we’ll need young people to start seeing the profession as an attractive career option.

Personally, I would like to see more college and university students consider financial planning earlier in their careers. To make that happen, leaders in the financial planning profession need to forge connections with post-secondary institutions. We need to raise awareness about the advantages of working in financial planning among students and faculty alike. Doing so will allow us to generate greater interest in the profession — and create new educational pathways and professional opportunities.

Given the diversity of Canada’s post-secondary institutions, building relationships with universities and colleges can also help us recruit prospective financial planners from many different backgrounds. From there, we can begin to build a profession that feels more accessible to all Canadians.

At FP Canada, we’ve made this a priority. We’re creating recruitment campaigns that speak directly to those who are entering university or college and providing educators with the tools they need to promote the profession.

We are also working with our post-secondary partners to create more efficient educational pathways for students interested in pursuing CFP certification or qualified associate financial planner (QAFP) certification. These streamlined programs will encourage aspiring professionals to consider financial planning as an attractive career choice, and will enable students to graduate with all the skills and knowledge they need to begin a career as a financial planner.

In a world where students have many career options, FP Canada, educational institutions, industry and individual planners all have a role to play to support the successful recruitment and development of future financial planners. This includes activities to promote careers in financial planning, creating mentorship opportunities, supporting recruitment campaigns and ensuring that workplaces are welcoming to prospective planners from all backgrounds.

Research tells us that access to professional financial planning advice is one of the keys to financial well-being for all Canadians. Therefore, building the financial planning profession is an investment in Canada’s economic prosperity, and that makes the future of financial planning an imperative for us all.

Tashia Batstone is president and CEO of FP Canada.