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Broadening Your Bench – Version 2.0

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With an estimated $1 trillion in purchasing power, the LGBTQ community represents a meaningful opportunity to grow your business — and a reason to further diversify your team. 

Diversity has become a critical benchmark for business management and, increasingly, one of the criteria consumers consider when choosing who they do business with. However, while efforts to expand the presence of women and people of color in the board room and employment rolls are increasing, the LGBTQ community is often neglected. That may be a costly oversight. 

On a recent episode of The Flexible Advisor podcast, we spoke with Joey Stemmle, President of FPA NexGen, about FPA’s Pride Planners and how it is helping advisory firms create more inclusive environments for LGBTQ employees and clients. 

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Different? Not really.

Despite its significant financial power — estimated at more than $1 trillion in the US alone — the LGBTQ community is a distinct and often overlooked niche. Part of that may be due to a fundamental misunderstanding that this community is so inherently “different” that it is somehow inaccessible. That is simply not true. 

Stemmle explains, “Investors tend to prefer to work with firms that support their community. I think serving the needs of LGBTQ investors isn't any different than any other specific niche within your community. That means you can follow a similar type of path and discovery: 

  • Are you involved in that community? 
  • Do you do sponsor events within that community? 
  • Do you understand the wants, concerns and needs of that community? 
  • Are you an ally and are you open about being an ally?

Despite its significant financial power, the LGBTQ community is often overlooked.

LGBTQ team members can bring valuable insight into LGBTQ issues, emerging concerns, local events and media outlets – all of which can make a world of difference in addressing those key questions.”

Small things matter 

If you are genuinely working to create a more inclusive business, there are issues to recognize outside of the traditional financial planning topics. Seemingly small things can make a difference in demonstrating your commitment and may strengthen your efforts to connect with LGBTQ clients and staff. For example, Stemmle says, “Look at the specific language you use in conversation and in your documents. If you have a male client do you automatically ask if they have a wife?  Does your data gathering form list ‘husband’ or ‘wife’, or does it list ‘spouse’? The former shows a bias, probably unintentional, but a bias, nonetheless. Making a point of using correct names and pronouns will also make your outreach more inclusive.”

As with any niche that you may target, Stemmle encourages advisors to “recognize that those in the LGBTQ community can have different views from a generational perspective. “Those in their 60s and 70s have had a different experience than those in their 30s and 40s, which is different from those in their 20s. That can influence points of reference like the Stonewall riots compared to the implementation of ‘don't ask, don't tell’ or winning marriage equality. Having at least one member on your team who is a part of the community or someone who is a passionate ally, someone who understand those nuances, can help you better engage with LGBTQ clients.”  

Team training on LGBTQ terminology and concepts, and understanding the financial issues of those within the LGBTQ community will help you establish and implement effective and inclusive communication.

3 Take-aways:

  • The LGBTQ community represents a meaningful opportunity to grow your business
  • Serving these investors is no different than any other niche within your community. 
  • FPA’s Pride Planners can help you create a more inclusive environment

Practical insight, valuable support 

The Financial Planning Association provides education to planners who serve the LGBTQ community, including tips for advisors and firms to attract and retain LGBTQ clients and employees.

FPA Pride Planners has hosted webinars that discussed family planning including adoption, working with LGBTQ clients, aging concerns among LGBTQ people, and how to be out and proud as an LGBTQ  financial planner. 

According to Stemmle. “By getting involved with your local chapter or even on the national level, planners and those in the financial planning profession can partner with other planners to welcome a diverse group and really help shape the future of the financial planning profession.” Learn more at FinancialPlanningAssociation.org. 

The LGBTQ community is gaining significant visibility and acceptance, yet this population is still often underserved by our industry. Taking steps to understand and address the unique financial, legal and personal issues that influence their financial planning needs can open the door to significant opportunity.

Hear our complete conversation with Joey Stemmle here. 

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