As a LGBTQ financial advisor, my clients tell me they hear this baffling question often,
“You’re gay, you must be loaded right?!”
There is a misconception that marriage and kids are traditionally that of a heterosexual relationship, and that as LGBTQ individuals we must have more money because we don’t spend it on kids and that we can keep our money independent of our partner’s so there is no need for this “family money” nonsense. I’m surprised when I hear this, as a member of the LGBTQ community, and, as my wife and I explore family planning options and how we can have a baby together. Whether we do IVF, co-IVF, or adoption, there are many options out there. One common theme: it’s expensive! Healthcare plans generally do not address or have comprehensive same sex family planning benefits included. Meaning, most, if not all, of the cost is out of pocket.
This leads me to another question I hear all the time from other advisors and professionals,
“What’s so complicated about LGBTQ financial planning?”
The common thought is that because same sex marriage is legal there are really no unique planning considerations when helping their LGBTQ clients. Again, I’m astonished when I hear this. Maybe someday I won’t be surprised by the lack of awareness regarding the complexity around life as someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning. But today, I continue to be astonished, particularly as my wife and I (after finally getting married last year) navigate the legal considerations surrounding family planning. My wife and I have been together for almost 9 years, 3 of which the financial benefits of a ‘legal’ marriage would have only partly applied to us. The complexity spans almost every decision we make for our family, for our health, and for our future.
I’ll continue with yet another surprisingly common comment, one that my LGBTQ clients and I frequently hear,
“We’ve come so far with LGBTQ rights, at this point everyone’s on board, so there really isn’t a need to be concerned about your future.”
Generally, if someone is saying this they aren’t asking; they are telling us that our life is secure and rights are protected. There isn’t necessarily a curiosity of whether or not this is true, or how we may feel about where LGBTQ rights are today. The shock here is that my clients and I see, and unfortunately experience, hate crimes against transgendered Americans, rights being questioned on whether it’s okay to discriminate on the basis of sexual identity or orientation, health care coverage being questioned for the benefit of someone who’s trans, and bills coming out banning same sex couples from adopting. The stories are endless, just go to the HRC and the ACLU websites and you’ll see what we are up against. For many, there is a looming concern of,
“What do I do if these rights I’ve been granted in recent years,
are taken away from me?”
This is why I focus my time on LGBTQ financial planning. An important part of my job is to ask questions, lots of questions. To learn all that I can from my clients so that I can help them navigate decisions and offer advice that will help them feel financially empowered to meet their goals. While financial planning in general is deeply personal, in this space it can be intensely personal. And if I don’t acknowledge and educate myself on the complexities and unique factors of the widely diverse LGBTQ+ community, I will be doing my clients a disservice.
So, to anyone in the LGBTQ community seeking financial advice, feel empowered to first ask your current or potential advisor if they have experience working in this space. And for those advisors who are seeking to be a better ally to serve our community, there are many resources out there to help deepen your understanding of LGBTQ history, the important factors to consider with planning, the additional questions to ask your clients, and more.
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