You don't need to be an expert to begin planning for your financial goals — but it can help to talk to someone who is one.
An experienced financial planner will assist you in navigating everything from creating an everyday budget to developing saving and investment strategies to meet your needs now and in the future. Plus, they should be able to translate complex topics for you with clarity.
For LGBTQ+ people, working with an LGBTQ+ supportive advisor removes obstacles such as having to educate about financial issues and hurdles that the LGBTQ+ community faces. This better ensures that you will spend your sessions together creating a plan to achieve your financial goals, feeling safe sharing personal information and secure that they understand nuances of your financial situation.
What's the best way for LGBTQ+ individuals and families to find an LGBTQ+ supportive financial planner to kickstart their personal finance empowerment journey? What should they expect from their first meeting, and how will working with a financial planner benefit them over time? Read on for the answers.
When assessing prospective planners, it's helpful to understand what the typical planner-client relationship looks like. Jennifer Dazols, a San Francisco-based financial planner with Sincerus Advisory and founder of Modern Family Finance, says her sessions with clients often get more emotional than people expect.
"We all come into this world with money beliefs that can trip us up," she says. Finances are inextricably linked to many deeply personal topics such as families of origin, intimate partners and plans for end-of-life care. "There are a lot of factors that affect our ability to achieve our goals," she adds, "so financial planning is not just about the technical piece of budgeting."
In a May 2022 survey of LGBTQ+-identifying people conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), for example, 30% of respondents reported experiencing "bias, discrimination or exclusion by or from organizations or individuals within the financial services sector."
Working with an LGBTQ+-supportive advisor may help clients feel more comfortable as they discuss their life plans and financial goals, and some choose to go this route for other reasons. "A lot of my clients come to me because I'm gay, and they want to support the community," says Robert Castillo, a Santa Monica, CA-based CFP and Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA) with Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management.
To find a queer-friendly or -identified financial planner, Dazols and Castillo recommend consulting the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Castillo also suggests an internet search using basic search terms like “queer financial planner” and the name of your state or city for additional leads.
When deciding to work with a potential financial planner, it’s standard practice to schedule an introductory call. Clients should feel empowered to ask questions at this stage. “It's good to just be direct,” says Castillo. “Ask, ‘Do you work with same-sex couples or people who are LGBTQ+?’”
These consultations are usually brief and free of charge, says Dazols. She uses her intro calls with prospective clients to get a clearer sense of their financial goals and determine if they are a good match personality-wise to work together.
Once you’ve decided on a financial planner, this is when your financial planning journey begins in earnest.
Ahead of your first session, you may be asked to provide basic information about your finances. For instance, Castillo asks all of his new clients to send over copies of their monthly and annual budgets along with details about their assets and debts.
Ask, ‘Do you work with same-sex couples or people who are LGBTQ+?’
There are some specific financial concerns among LGBTQ+ households. For example, same-sex couples considering marriage or domestic partnership may want to inquire about what makes the most sense for them financially. “There are a lot of legal and tax issues to domestic partnerships that might need to be considered,” says Castillo, and these technicalities vary by state.
Additionally, Castillo works with many LGBTQ+ clients who are saving up for expensive medical procedures. This includes gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people and surrogacy or in-vitro fertilization for people who are planning to start a family. When these clients come to him, Castillo says, “They're wondering, ‘How much is this going to cost?’ or ‘What are our options?’ and that's what I can really help them with.”
Following this initial session, your planner will also establish a cadence for meetings moving forward. For example, Dazols meets with most clients five to six times a year, while Sammons opts for a twice-yearly schedule.
First-time clients should also be prepared to discuss their core values and long-term goals, financial and otherwise.
Once you start working with your planner, the aim is to identify your financial goals and implement an action plan to achieve them in a reasonable timeframe.
Keep in mind that your financial priorities will evolve over time. This is inevitable, says Sammons, and clients shouldn't be afraid to be honest about their shifting goals or life circumstances.
"Financial planning is so dynamic," Sammons says, because there can be changes in your life as well as the tax law. Many of her clients come to her in their 50s to plan for retirement, end-of-life care or their estate. Younger LGBTQ+ clients may not yet consider these more sobering subjects a priority, but, in fact, it is especially important for LGBTQ+ clients to discuss long-term care options with their financial advisors.
According to an 2021 report from SAGE, the nation's leading advocacy group for LGBTQ+ elders, older LGBTQ+ people are four times less likely to have children, meaning they lack built-in support from younger family members as they age. LGBTQ+ seniors also face disproportionately high rates of poverty and housing discrimination. "It's important to have some sort of financial security so you can afford to go to a [senior living] community that is accepting," Castillo says.
It's also helpful to think of mapping out whatever financial goals you have — pursuing a degree, buying a house, having children or saving for retirement — as an investment in your future self. Financial planning takes patience and steady practice, which is why is why it's beneficial to choose a pro you trust as your sounding board to navigate life's ebbs and flows.
"Clients don't see instant results, nor do advisors," Sammons says. "But we know that over the years, if clients follow the course that you map out for them, it can really work out beautifully."
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