While we already know that we as gays and lesbians have more financial burdens than our straight counterparts, it is a pretty rare occasion that those outside of our community pay attention to our everyday struggles with financial disparities and inequities.
Which is exactly why I was excited to see that Prudential insurance company launched a gigantic study all about the LGBT financial experience. Their incentive? According to their executive vice president/COO and senior vice president of Human Resources, although many companies have begun paying more attention to the LGBT market, “much of this attention has been focused on buying power and consumer behavior and little information has been available about the financial experience of the LGBT community.” The study aimed to take “in-depth look at the current financial landscape for LGBT Americans to better understand the financial challenges and concerns of the community as a whole, same sex couples, and LGBT parents.” Pretty cool of them if you ask me. And they found some interesting results too. Not surprisingly, our top three financial concerns are, in order: lack of Social Security or pension survivor benefits for same-sex couples; legislation that negatively affects LGBT financial rights; and tax treatment of same-sex couples; followed by benefit inequality for LGBT employees and inheritance rules for same-sex couples.
Especially interesting to me is the section on LGBT family, marriage and couple communication. It found that many same-sex couples keep separate bank accounts while in the relationship—a “striking difference” it said, compared to the general population. The majority said the reason is to keep “financial independence,” followed by “simpler tax preparation,” and “different viewpoints on money and credit.” It also points out that LGBT parents have added expenses (duh!), and the number of LGBT families is expected to increase significantly starting with Gen Y (age 25-32). Woo hoo! More gaybies!
Overall, the study found that the LGBT community is in “good financial health” meaning that we have a higher median income and more “discretionary income” than the general population, relatively low unemployment and are generally upbeat about our finances. We also own a lot of “financial products” like life insurance and retirement and savings accounts, which is not surprising considering our need to protect ourselves financially, especially in the absence of legal protections in most states. Because we own all of this financial “stuff,” we are also important to the financial services professionals, who are striving to understand how to woo us as clientele. In order to do this, the study says, financial services companies need to “make an increased effort to reach out to the community, gain expertise in laws affecting same–sex couples and LGBT parents, treat their own employees equally in the workplace and support LGBT non-profit organizations.” I don’t think this is too much to ask.
The majority of us don’t necessarily think that our financial professional has to personally identify as LGBT, but we do think it is “very important” that the professional “understands the unique financial needs of LGBT individuals,” or “works for a company that has demonstrated commitment to the LGBT community.”
Read the full report at http://www.prudential.com/media/managed/Prudential_LGBT_Financial_Experience.pdf
It’s Conceivable wants to hear from you. Write to us with your stories about dealing with financial inequities or about your experiences (good or bad) with financial professionals. We’ll publish them (with your permission) in a follow up article.