The short version
- People in the LGBTQ+ community have unique needs when it comes to finances, so they need to choose financial advisors carefully
- There are organizations and resources available to help connect LGBTQ+ with advisors that will work for their particular situations
- Lower wages, limited housing options, and less education and representation in finances are all reasons why LGBTQ+ individuals need supportive financial advisors
More: What is a financial advisor?
How to find LGBTQ+ supportive financial advisors in five easy steps
1. Start by understanding what your financial needs are
The advisor you choose will, in part, depend on the financial services you need. A few of the services advisors commonly offer include:
- General financial guidance. If you want to leave your entire financial life in the hands of your advisor, you’ll need to find an experienced advisor who's well-versed in a variety of financial areas.
- Retirement planning. LGBTQ+ folks often have difficulty fully preparing themselves for retirement, so a financial advisor who understands these issues and can educate you on how to best save for your future is a must.
- Investing advice. Investing help is typically one of the key services an advisor can offer. If you want more direction and more control than you’d get with a robo-advisor, but you’re not entirely comfortable handling your own investments, find an advisor who can help.
- Tax services. If you’re self-employed or own a business, finding an advisor can help ensure you’re not overpaying and filing correctly. If this is the only service you’re looking for, you may not need a full-fledged advisor. You could consider hiring a tax preparer once or twice a year to solicit their advice.
- Debt reduction. If your main goal is to get out of debt, you’ll seriously want to consider whether an advisor is the right way to go. They can absolutely help you reduce your debt, but they come at a significant cost.
2. Check in with your local network
LGBTQ+ communities can be close-knit, so one of your first steps should be to ask others who they use for an advisor, assuming they’re willing to share that information. You can join Facebook groups, ask for recommendations from your Twitter following, or reach out to your LinkedIn network.
3. Search reputable sources
There are a few places dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ folks find the financial guidance they need. Here are a few places to search for and start screening LGBTQ+ supportive financial advisors.
Horizons Foundation’s directory of professional advisors for the LGBTQ+ community
The Horizons Foundation offers an extensive directory that you can search based on your location or an advisor’s name. You can search for financial planners, tax preparers, CPAs, etc. The people listed in the directory focus on LGBTQ+ finances, but as always, make sure to do your research before making a final decision.
Quiet Wealth, started by a Harvard MBA, focuses on helping “high-achieving” LGBTQ+ individuals and small business owners. It provides full-picture financial planning and investment management options. It's based near D.C. but offers services throughout the country.
Christopher Street Financial
As the first LGBTQ+ financial advisor firm in the country, Christopher Street Financial offers general financial planning, investment services, life insurance, estate planning, and business strategy guidance. All the advisors are fiduciaries, so they focus on the individual and develop a plan that works for each specific client.
XY Planning Network
The XY Planning Network is an advisor database that lets you search by your location, an advisor's name, or an advisor's specialty. One of those specialties is LGBTQIA individuals. If you find an advisor that you think would work well for you, XY lays out their credentials and a short bio so you can get a better sense of who they are.
4. Ask the right questions
Interviewing financial advisors is a must before you make a final decision. After all, you’ll likely be paying thousands of dollars each year for their services. Don’t be afraid to ask your advisor some tough questions – you want to make sure your money is in the right hands. Consider asking the following:
- Have you worked with LGBTQ+ clients before? If they have, you know they should be comfortable working with you.
- What are the challenges those in the LGBTQ+ community face in terms of their finances? To understand how best to help you, advisors should have some basic understanding of the financial disparities the community faces.
- Here are a few of my goals – how do you think you could help me with them? You’ll have financial goals wholly unique to you, no matter who you are. A sure-fire way to know if a financial advisor is right for you is to see how they would help you maintain and grow your finances.
- Are you a fiduciary? A fiduciary has an obligation to put your best interests first. Any advisor you work with should be proud to say they’re a fiduciary.
- Are there any laws in my state that could impact my finances as an LGBTQ+ person? Every state has different laws regarding employment, housing, healthcare, and more. If any of these laws could affect your financial life as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, your advisor should be able to help you find a path forward.
During the interview, you should be able to get a feel for each advisor. Are they listening attentively? Do you like their answers? Make sure to take notes during the interview, and don’t be afraid to interview multiple advisors.
More: Different types of financial advisors
5. At the end of the day, trust your gut
You’re never obligated to go with an advisor because you interview them. If they don’t want to be interviewed before you agree to work with them that’s a huge red flag; you should likely look elsewhere. If you just don’t feel like working with this person or think they wouldn't be a good fit at any time during the interview, don’t be afraid to continue your search.
Why LGBTQ+ individuals need supportive financial advisors
Members of the LGBTQ+ community often have to think about their finances differently. We live in a world that is still home to a lot of prejudice, so there are certain factors we have to think about that those identifying as cis and/or straight simply don’t have to.
Below isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are just a few of the important things that make LGBTQ+ finances unique.
There’s a wage gap
Those within the LGBTQ+ community often find themselves at a disadvantage regarding salary. The Human Rights Campaign conducted a survey in 2021 that shows LGBTQ+ workers earn 90 cents to every dollar straight cis workers earn. This disparity grows depending on race: Black LGBTQ+ workers earn 80 cents to the dollar and Native American workers earn just 70 cents for every dollar.
Another study done by the Williams Institute found poverty levels among LGBTQ+ individuals to be significantly higher than the average. About 22% of LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. live in poverty, compared to 16% of straight and/or cisgender adults. And the numbers only get worse for Black and Latinx transgender individuals, with 38% and 48% living in poverty, respectively.
Factors like these put LGBTQ+ people at a financial disadvantage, so advisors need to understand and problem-solve around these specific issues.
Housing options are often more limited (and expensive)
While costs aren’t directly higher for those in the LGBTQ+ community, many LGBTQ+ individuals live in urban areas, where they find more acceptance. Considering that city living typically comes with much higher housing, dining, and entertainment costs than rural areas, the cost of living is simply higher for many in the LGBTQ+ community and this is not entirely by choice.
Family planning looks different
Many LGBTQ+ couples need to think very carefully about starting a family. Conceiving or adopting a child can be extremely expensive, not to mention the cost of hospital bills and potential legal fees.
Saving this kind of money is a big financial goal in itself. A financial advisor can play an important part in helping you reach that goal.
Investing can be difficult
Many LGBTQ+ folks aren’t confident in their ability to invest for their future. There are a few of reasons for this, including:
- There aren’t as many options for LGBTQ+ investors looking for community representation. While there are definitely LGBTQ+-friendly investment options, the pool is limited, making it difficult for LGBTQ+ investors to hold investments that truly represent their values. Luckily, socially responsible investing (SRI) is a growing investing method that focuses in part on inclusivity and social justice.
- LGBTQ+ investors often don't have access to tailored financial education. Other than a handful of guides like this one, most investing education focuses on more “traditional” trajectories and less on inclusive companies.
More: LGBTQ+-friendly investments: what are they and how to find them
The bottom line
A financial advisor is there to help guide you in your financial journey. For the LGBTQ+ community, many financial matters are more challenging, which makes it all the more necessary to find advisors that understand.
Between your local network and online resources, you should be able to find an advisor to match your needs, no matter how unique they may be. Just do your research, ask the hard questions, and trust your instincts.