Why a Gay Financial Planner Just Might Be Best for You
In ordinary times, the politics of who works with you and your money shouldn’t matter a lick. But hoo boy, my friends, these are far from ordinary times. That’s why having a gay, or at least a gay-friendly, financial planner can make the going a little better for all parties.
By David Rae Certified Financial Planner™, Accredited Investment Fiduciary™
The demographic truth is that that the financial planning industry – my industry – is mostly older, whiter and more socially conservative that the population as a whole. Mind you, just because your adviser is a 65-year-old Trump supporter doesn’t necessarily mean he (and in this case he probably is a ‘he’) is a big ol’ homophobe. But aside from some notable, admirable exceptions (I’m doffing my hat to you Mike Bloomberg), fiscal conservatives aren’t exactly out there speaking up for LGBT rights. Some, in fact, may be blatantly hostile to them.
What difference does any of this make when it comes to financial planning? Quite simply, the way you spend and allocate your money has everything to do with who you are and how you live. It follows that if someone has a visceral prejudice against your very existence, how can you trust them to have your best interests at heart?
So here are the top reasons you may be happier with a LGBT gay or gay-friendly financial planner:
1 – Worldview of a Gay Financial Planner
Every time I go to a financial industry event I’m reminded how conservative many advisers are. They may be nice guys, but wow do we see the world differently. I’ve spoken to many women who describe their families advisor as creepy. Not exactly how I’d want to be described, or a skill I’d like for in my financial planner.
A gay financial planner will more likely share your social and political views. Why is this important? In a nutshell it gets down to trust and empathy. In today’s climate it’s very difficult to trust someone or feel empathy for – or in turn be trusted by or feel empathy from – someone with a vastly different political orientation. (This is an unfortunate by-product about how our brains are wired. But the moral and ethical implications of neuroscience are a conversation for another day.) Hopefully, this means hiring someone you can trust. If you find that you can more easily trust someone who is gay or gay-friendly, then so be it. (I’m no Pollyanna, mind you. I’m well aware that there are plenty of amazing and wonderful straight people just as I know there are nefarious and dastardly gay ones.)
Then there is the business of making your money walk the talk. For all the gay alt-right Peter Thiels or self-hating homophobic Milo Yiannopoulouses out there, there are millions more of us who want to put our money where our hearts are and support our brethren in LGBT businesses.
2 – Lifestyle comprehension- The Best Gay Financial Planner Advantage
We’d like to think that the closet is history but in many parts of the country staying ‘in’ can literally be a matter of survival.
Over the years I’ve spoken with tons of people who were afraid to come out to their financial professionals. This is a supposedly trustworthy person whose brief is to guide you towards financial freedom. But if they don’t know what truly motivates you and what you are looking to accomplish, how can they possibly offer the best advice for your specific goals and the time frame in which to accomplish them?
I’ve also literally reviewed financial plans where the sex of the second spouse was changed to cover the fact that this was an LGBT couple. Two glaring problems present themselves here:
1) The input of both spouses were not included. Financial Planning for couples (gay or straight) is not a solo sport.
2) Health care needs and life expectancy are quite different if a couple is two women, versus two men. The difference may not be dramatic now, but can prove quite sizable over time.
Does marriage equality mean the end of LGBT-specific financial planning?
I’m guessing no and that the best LGBT-oriented financial planning is here to stay even if, we hope and pray, homophobia eventually gives up the ugly ghost.
The good news is that the LGBTQ community has achieved legal marriage equality. With that equality comes all the rights and responsibilities of marriage. When it comes to income taxes and estate planning, this has really helped level the playing field for LGBT citizens by granting access to spousal benefits like Social Security and additional retirement account options.
But alas, marriage equality does not mean an end to the unique challenges facing LGBT seniors. From ingrained homophobia throughout much of the country, to unique health care issues and needs. Plus, gay seniors may differ in priorities, interests, hobbies and ideal retirement options. Case in point, I’m still in the prime of my working life but I can’t imagine that my biased (and stereotypical) gay tastes are going to change when I’m older. I’ll always prefer discussing the play Hamilton to a play-by-play analysis of Superbowl Whatever. (Kidding here on that last bit, my father played in Superbowl XI with the Oakland Raiders. Fair warning, pal, I can talk sports with the best of them).
Checklist essentials for a Gay Financial Plan
Choosing the best gay financial planner is one of the more important decisions you’ll ever make as an adult. Here’s what to look for:
- Make sure your financial advisor provides the services that you need to help you accomplish your specific financial goals. Maybe they’re great for the guy down the block but that doesn’t mean they’ll be good for you.
- Upgrade to a person who actually does comprehensive financial planning as opposed to just selling investments or insurance products.
- Look for professional designations like Certified Financial Planner™ and Accredited Investment Fiduciary™.
- Make sure your financial planner works on the Fiduciary Standard. This means that they put your financial best interests before their own and must offer unbiased advice. Want to know if they are working under the fiduciary standard? Just ask.
- If you are approaching retirement, you may also want to consider your advisor’s age. If they are much older than you, will they still be working when you need them most in the later years of your own retirement? If not, is there a younger partner in place to assure seamless succession?
If your prospective financial advisor passes muster with flying colors on all the above, then you ask if he or she is a fiscally fabulous LGBT Financial Planner. Affirmative? Hop on your unicorn and ride on over to their office and let them help you maximize your money while you maximize your life.
Live for Today, But Plan for Tomorrow. Gay Money Matters.
DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based retirement planner with DRM Wealth Management. He has been helping friends of the LGBT community reach their financial goals for over a decade. A regular contributor to the Advocate Magazine, Investopedia and Huffington Post as well as the author of the Financial Planner Los Angeles Blog. He lives in West Hollywood with his husband and two Chihuahuas. For more information check out his Fiduciary Financial Planning Website www.davidraefp.com
The opinions voiced in this article are for general information only.