If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, finding a financial advisor who is LGBTQ+-friendly can be both important and challenging.
As a whole, financial advisors aren’t a diverse group of people. The average age of a financial advisor is 55, and 20% of financial advisors are 65 or older, according to a 2019 study by J.D. Power. Of the 80,000 Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) professionals, fewer than 3.5% are Black or Latinx. And the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) only announced in 2021 the option to choose a nonbinary gender for current planners and future applicants.
How can you get the best financial advice from an industry that doesn’t seem to have a very diverse pool of people to choose from? As a Certified Financial Planner™, I get it. Money is personal. What works for one person may not work for you. But here’s the thing: Financial planning should be available to every person.
You deserve the absolute best financial advice, and finding a financial advisor who caters to your unique financial needs as an LGBTQ+ person can make all the difference.
- An Experian survey found that 62% of LGBTQ+ respondents said their gender identity or sexual orientation caused them to experience financial challenges.
- Having an LGTBQ+-friendly financial planner can help uncover potential financial hurdles that many members of the LGBTQ+ community face.
- Searching online for LGBTQ+-friendly financial advisors is one way to find an advisor, but when you meet with a potential advisor, you should be prepared to ask about their experience working with LGBTQ+ clients.
Why Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Matter in Financial Planning
The pool of financial planners skews toward older, more conservative individuals, which can make it tough to know whether your advisor can give advice geared to the planning and investment needs of LGBTQ+ people. The financial services industry has fallen short on how it serves these communities and their families. As a nation, we’ve made great strides toward equality in legal and civil rights. But a 2018 Experian survey found that 62% of LGBTQ+ respondents said their gender identity or sexual orientation caused them to experience financial challenges.
If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, you might face a number of unique difficulties in planning your financial future. Some decisions can have a substantial impact on your bottom line—both positive and negative.
For example, protecting your domestic partner if you choose not to get married; navigating workplace discrimination and how it affects reaching your financial goals, including retirement; and other issues are potential financial difficulties that LGBTQ+ people have to consider. Having an LGTBQ+-friendly financial planner can uncover those hurdles and help to create a sustainable, successful financial future.
How to Find an LGBTQ+-Friendly Financial Planner
So how can you find an LGBTQ+-friendly financial advisor? When meeting with a potential financial advisor, start by asking questions that will give you a sense of their personal style, professional experience, and content mastery. Here are some ideas on what to ask:
- Have you worked with LGBTQ+ clients before? How many?
- Have you worked with same-sex couples before?
- Can you walk me through specific financial challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals face?
- Can you tell me about laws in this state that can impact productive financial planning for LGBTQ+ people?
Ideally, a financial advisor will have experience working with LGBTQ+ clients and can provide you with examples of challenges and strategies that can benefit your overall finances. Notice the advisor’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice when answering these questions. If they acknowledge the importance of these questions, then they will be a good fit in your selection of a financial advisor.
As far as finding actual advisors, try searching online using websites like Avantax (formerly GuideVine), where you can filter the results for LGBT services, or try searching for LGBTQ+-focused firms. If you find an advisor or a firm that you think will be a good fit but they are too far away geographically, it’s worth asking if they meet with clients virtually, as many financial advisors do.
Important Considerations When Choosing a Financial Advisor
In addition to finding an advisor who is equipped to meet your unique financial needs, there are other considerations to take into account when looking for a financial advisor.
One thing to ask: Is the advisor a fiduciary? CFP® professionals must act as fiduciaries, but other advisors may not operate under those strictures. Everything that a fiduciary does must be in the best interest of their clients. And that’s the ideal: a financial advisor who gives you the right advice for your dreams and goals.
Consider the Type of Financial Advice That You Need
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of financial planner. Advisors can specialize in different areas:
- Financial planning: Focuses on all areas of your financial life, including savings goals, insurance, and tax planning.
- Investment services: Takes care of your investments and manages decisions regarding which investments to own and what investment accounts are best for your goals.
- Retirement planning: Coordinates all of the pieces that make up your finances in retirement, such as Social Security, taxes, investments, pensions, and more.
Consider the type of client whom the advisor typically serves. For instance, some might take clients from all over the country, while others limit their practice locally.
Check Credentials and Certifications
Many levels of qualifications exist for financial professionals. A “financial coach” doesn’t require any formal training or certifications. Some organizations issue easy-to-get credentials that sound more impressive than they are. But not all credentials are created equally.
A CFP® is a Certified Financial Planner™ and requires successful completion of a rigorous examination to earn the designation. The CFP® certification means trust and competence. A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) also must complete in-depth studies and pass an exam. Both designations have ethics and experience requirements. Look for these credentials when choosing a reputable advisor.
Use a Financial Advisor Search Engine
It’s a good idea to ask family and friends to recommend an advisor. But you should also do your homework and make sure that the planner is legitimate and has a good service record before you hire them.
Here are a few other recommended places to search for a financial advisor:
- Let’s Make a Plan: The CFP Board has a tool that lets you easily find a CFP® professional. Enter your location and the services that you’re looking for, or search for a specific planner by name.
- Boomerater: An online network that points you to a financial advisor who specializes in helping seniors, it has the option to search for an advisor in your area. You can also search by last name if you know the name of the advisor you’re looking for.
- NAPFA: The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) has an online search feature to find a financial planner near you.
Using a financial advisor search engine can help you find reviews about the advisor and verify their credentials.
The Bottom Line
Successful financial advisors are passionate about financial planning. They’re naturally curious, which is an important trait because financial and investment laws, standards, and products are constantly changing.
The best advisors are professional, put your interests first, and communicate your financial plan in a way that you understand. With these tips, I’m confident that you’ll find a financial advisor who openly supports the LGBTQ+ community and understands the unique facets of your finances.