Many financial counselors and coaches have asked how they can be more inclusive to diverse populations and how to better serve diverse clients. During the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Networking Chat at Symposium, the AFCPE® DEI Task Force encouraged exploration of the many facets of diversity, took time for retrospection and internal reflection in past experiences serving diverse clients, and conversed in both small and large groups about these experiences.

Why is DEI important to understand and practice as a financial professional? 

The big question is, “Why should this matter to you?” Being more open and deliberate in serving diverse clients allows you to remain honest, transparent, and move forward in building new skills with purpose. While getting exposed to new perspectives, we also learn to identify and remove our own biases. Deliberately applying DEI best practices in our day-to-day work helps us elevate our empathy, gain compassion, and engage clients in a way that’s meaningful to them.

What are some simple DEI practices that you can apply today?

If you have a client who is hearing impaired:

  • Maintain eye contact throughout the session and help create a safe space for the client.
  • Have an American Sign Language (ASL) app installed on your phone to help you translate, and employ a translator (when available).
  • Have your client complete paperwork so that you, as the financial professional, can translate between them and the financial institution as needed.
  • Spend time at the beginning of the session to break down the “shame” barrier that your client may feel when asking for your help.

If you have a client who is in the Sandwich Generation:

  • Don’t make assumptions regarding the reason for why a situation exists; instead, explore dynamics, values and any conflicts in the family.
  • Acknowledge that their decisions are not always financially motivated and keep an open mind.
  • Recognize that the value to send money home needs to be honored as their decision.
  • Consider offering pro bono financial webinars to the generation below and above for clients with limited resources.

If you have a client who is coming out of bankruptcy:

  • Explore the root cause and their money scripts to avoid another bankruptcy.
  • Talk about their balance sheet; help them set up goals and good money behaviors.
  • Focus on the benefits of saving money in relation to their goals.
  • Learn from clients instead of ‘teaching’ them about the predatory practices they’ve gone through.

What can you do next?

Share examples of your best practices with your fellow AFCPE® members through the Connected Community, and engage in the DEI book discussions located on the forum. Review DEI related publications in The Standard and the Journal of Financial Counseling & Planning. Improve your skills by using the DEI Toolkit. Join the DEI Task Force. Contact Chair, Meghan McInnes, at   No matter what, remember that your expertise and your voice matters!

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