When it comes to planning and saving for the future, many in the LGBTQIA+ community experience adversity that can lead to financial hardships. By running a more LGBTQIA+ inclusive practice, you can help those individuals create a more secure financial future while also expanding your reach.
Financial Challenges in the LGBTIA+ Community
According to Student Loan Hero, roughly 40 percent of LGBTQ borrowers said they’ve been denied financial assistance due to their sexual orientation, while 87 percent claimed that outstanding student loans kept them from reaching significant financial milestones, such as buying a home, getting married, or starting a family.
Student loan debt isn’t the only barrier to a secure financial future. An Experian survey notes that 62 percent of LGBTQ respondents reported having experienced financial challenges due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This includes lower salaries, reduced chance of promotion, or being passed over for a job; reduced retirement security for same-sex couples; and discrimination that leads to higher housing costs. A study on mortgage applications found that same-sex couples were 73 percent more likely to be turned down for a mortgage compared with similarly qualified heterosexual couples.
Keys to Working with LGBTQIA+ Clients
LGBTQIA+ clients have specific needs—as anyone does—so you’ll want to tailor your approach to meet those needs and create a personalized plan that’s right for them. Based on some of the challenges they face, there are certain aspects of planning you should be familiar with, such as:
Consolidating or paying down student debt and other loans
Gaining access to healthcare and managing increased health care costs
Managing costs associated with family planning, such as adoption or reproductive treatments
Estate planning for those who choose not to marry
Navigating these concerns is crucial to finding success in working with LGBTQIA+ clients. According to Karen Curran, advisor and co-owner of Curran and Keegan Financial in Hadley, Massachusetts, potential clients need to have confidence in their advisors. “There’s a level of trust that needs to be earned,” Curran says. “LGBTQIA+ clients may feel you lack training or understanding of their particular situation. We seek to earn that trust with a very rigorous process that involves determining a potential client’s goals, needs, expenses, and priorities. By taking a consultative—rather than sales-based—approach, you have a better chance of establishing the foundation for a solid, long-term relationship.”
Jake Rivas, an advisor at i•financial in San Antonio, Texas, says that past experiences may make LGBTQIA+ clients more guarded when working with you. “We’ve made great strides in civil rights for the LGBTQIA+ community,” says Rivas. “But many individuals still face discrimination, especially when it comes to financial matters. If they’ve been turned down for a loan or mortgage, for example, they may be more defensive, which may make it harder for you to gain their trust.”
Attaining the Right Knowledge and Experience
Understanding how to address the specific needs of your LGBTQIA+ clients is crucial to helping them reach their goals. But if you haven’t worked with individuals in this community before, where do you start? More and more organizations are offering programs aimed at supporting advisors who work with LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples:
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) offers a DEI Training and Certificate Program to help advisors gain a deeper understanding of how to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion into their practice.
The College for Financial Planning offers an Accredited Domestic Partnership Professional Designation Program designed to help advisors address the unique planning needs of unmarried, coupled persons.
PridePlanners, the organization committed to supporting financial planners who serve LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, has become a part of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) to better serve the financial planning community and the public.
Marketing Your Firm to the LGBTQIA+ Community
Once you feel you’re able to effectively meet the needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals, you’ll want to create a marketing plan so the community knows you can help them. A few simple steps can include:
Updating your website with language that shows you are an LGBTQIA+ inclusive practice. Be sure to include specific training or certifications.
Sharing your solidarity on social media with posts about Pride month and other LGBTQIA+ events.
Contacting a local affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to learn about becoming an ally member.
Further, by tailoring your traditional marketing efforts to the LGBTQIA+ community, you can reach many of the clients you seek. This can include hosting a client event, writing a blog, or starting a podcast. Rivas hosts a podcast that addresses a range of financial planning issues and has dedicated several episodes to the challenges LGBTQIA+ individuals face. He also hosted an LGBTQIA+ event recently in Palm Springs, California.
“I’ve traditionally focused on millennials as clients,” Rivas says. “While the LGBTQIA+ clients I work with are really a subset of that demographic, this is a relatively new area to me. The podcasts and the event in Palm Springs have really given me a chance to reach that community and provide them with the planning help they seek.”
Showing your support for the community you’re trying to reach is another effective way to promote yourself as an LGBTQIA+ inclusive advisor. Curran and her team are very active in their community and find that marketing their business while supporting causes they believe in is a win-win.
“We support many of the same causes that our clients are passionate about,” Curran says. “Whether it’s Pride events, conservation, or something else, clients and prospective clients see that we share their same values, and that goes a long way to building lasting relationships.”
It’s All About Relationship Building
Many of the financial challenges those in the LGBTQIA+ community face can be addressed through sound financial planning. Just as with many of your current clients, paying down debt, budgeting, and planning can help them create a more secure financial future. By understanding their needs, having empathy for the challenges they face, and putting a focus on building relationships, you can position yourself to help many of those in the LGBTQIA+ community who need it the most.