(NewsUSA) – The demographics of wealth in the United States are shifting — with women controlling a larger portion of household finances and minority communities continually building wealth — but the makeup of today’s financial- planning workforce does not reflect this change.Less than one quarter of the more than 87,000 CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals are women, only 6 percent are Black and just 7 percent are Hispanic. The gap between the current state of the financial-planning profession and what is needed in this shifting landscape presents career opportunities for aspiring CFP® professionals, particularly female and minority CFP® candidates.One program designed to help fill the gap is the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning’s candidate referral program, which recently marked its first anniversary. The program focuses on directly connecting current and aspiring financial advisors who are women or people of color with financial advisory firms. Advisors from these demographics who have signed up for a CFP Board account and indicated their interest in CFP® certification are invited by the Center to opt into the referral program by answering a brief questionnaire about their professional goals and interests. The Center then shares the candidates’ contact information with firms that are looking to fill a variety of positions.To date, about 1,800 candidates have opted into the referral program, and the eight participating firms have made a number of hires.Lenet Rivas was one of the program’s successful candidates. After joining the program in August 2019, Lenet was contacted by several firms about various opportunities. Lenet chose to follow up with Fidelity, and after speaking with a recruiter and completing a phone interview, she was offered a position as a financial consultant."I started in January 2020, and I love it," says Lenet, who is currently completing Fidelity’s year-long training program while beginning to meet with clients. "The background work the Center did really transpired in my favor. The program created that networking space for me and provided firms to match to — I didn’t have to do that work myself. It makes it easier."Lenet believes the candidate referral program can help open the financial-planning profession to more diverse candidates, especially women. "More women could do this if they knew the pathway," she says. "There’s a big need for women of color in this field, but minority communities don’t have access to this information."To learn more about the Center for Financial Planning and its candidate referral program, visit https://www.cfp.net/career-and-growth/career-center. There are many different resources and opportunities to help diverse individuals get started or advance along a financial-planning career path.