How Advisors Can Serve LGBTQ+ Clients

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Veteran Planner, Founder And CEO In LGBTQ+ Community Explains How Allied Advisors Can Serve LGBTQ+ Clients, Challenges They Face And The Importance Of ESG

As readers know, the month of June is Pride Month – a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, focus on the barriers and unique challenges this community often faces and listen to the voices of the community, so we can be part of the solution to their challenges. For this purpose, we spoke with a veteran financial planner and firm leader within the LGBTQ+ community, providing her a platform to speak to us in the wealth management industry.

Marci Bair, the Managing Partner, Founder and CEO of San Diego-based Bair Financial Planning, has over three decades of experience working with women executives, LGBTQ+ couples and progressive business owners. Her firm specializes in ESG investing, creating and managing socially and environmentally conscious portfolios that align clients’ values with their wealth.

We asked Bair about the need for allied advisors to get involved serving the LGBTQ+ community, how they can boost their cultural competency in the community and why a thorough understanding of ESG is important for those who serve LGBTQ+ clients.

WSR: You mentioned that there are not enough LGBTQ+ advisors to serve the whole community, so allied advisors need to get involved. How does an allied advisor get started serving LGBTQ+ clients?

Marci Bair, Managing Partner, Founder & CEO, Bair Financial Planning

Bair: Because there are not enough LGBTQ+ advisors to serve the whole LGBTQ+ community, it will take allied advisors to help serve these clients. It is important to come to this community with a heart to serve and not just for a financial payoff. This community has been taken advantage of over the years by receiving focus just for the month of June for Pride Month and then receives no support the rest of the year.

I feel that an as an advisor, for us to do our best work for a client they must feel that they are in a safe place and can trust us. It’s on us to create an environment where they can bring their full self to the appointment and feel safe to share who they are, who they love, who is important in their life and their hopes, goals and dreams. It’s on us as advisors to create this safe place for the client.

This year in particular with all of the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community it is important to speak up in support of the community when you see negative comments on social media or in your local community. It will go a long way with your LGBTQ+ clients and prospective clients seeing you as an ally, standing with them and sticking up for them. You will have a greater impact in helping change the hearts and minds of those who don’t understand the LGBTQ+ community when you show your support.

WSR: How can advisors bolster their cultural competency with the LGBTQ+ community?

Bair: Advisors can educate themselves in a variety of ways. One is to read more information about the LGBTQ+ community from credible sources such as PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). This is an excellent organization to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and there are chapters all over the country. eMoney recently created an e-book that provides the opportunity to learn from other advisors.

There are also resources from the Human Rights Campaign as well as SAGE, an advocacy group for LGBTQ+ elders. Attend your local Pride parade or Pride events. Volunteer for an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ community such as an LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce or Community Center.

Start to get to know the community better and you can find an organization that fits you where you can be of service and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce has affiliated chapters all across the country.

WSR: What issues are affecting the community that an allied advisor may not be aware of?

Bair: This year in particular the LGBTQ+ community is being attacked literally and legally. There have been over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills proposed this year in over 41 states and 75 bills that have been signed into law. For the first time, the HRC declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in America.

There are a good number of financial and estate planning issues advisors need to be aware of. It has only been a handful of years since same-sex couples could legally marry and there are a lot of couples that have been together for many years who are still not legally married. There are also other couples who choose not to marry, so it is imperative that these couples have the legal documents in place to protect each other in the case of a death or disability.

Tax and estate planning is another area where these couples need additional education and assistance. It is critical to create a professional network that can assist your LGBTQ+ clients with cultural competency as well as professional knowledge when it comes to tax, insurance and estate planning.

WSR: Can you address the connection between serving the LGBTQ+ community and having expertise in and current knowledge of ESG and SRI?

Bair: The LGBTQ+ community tends to be fairly decerning about where they spend their money and the companies they support. This also comes into play when they are investing. They want to invest in companies that support the LGBTQ+ community and have a good record with regards to ESG. When it comes to portfolio proposals, I would encourage advisors to educate themselves on what ESG investing is and is not.

There are investment funds that have a good record in supporting the LGBTQ+ community and others that are anti-LGBTQ+ – it’s important to know the difference. Sustainable responsible investing (SRI) has been around for over 40 years, and most recently the terminology that has been used for this type of investing is “ESG.”

ESG is important to the LGBTQ+ community

Some politicians and political groups have chosen to attack ESG investing, which has made headlines recently, without really understanding what it is. There are a number of places that you can educate yourself on ESG investing like the Sustainable Investment Forum (US SIF). US SIF holds an annual conference as well as online education and a certification.

You can also reach out to your local wholesaler for some of the original SRI/ESG investment firms and they can give you a wealth of education as well as help you with client meetings.

Janeesa Hollingshead, Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at editor@wealthsolutionsreport.com.

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