In order to participate in the study, said George H. Walper Jr., president of Spectrem Group, respondents had to have a minimum net worth of $100,000, not including their home. Just under 1,000 respondents qualified to be part of the report, and the surveys were filled out by the person who makes most of the financial decisions in the home.
One of the most interesting results of the study is that LGBT individuals reported wanting to work with financial experts to help plan for their future financial health at a much higher rate than non-LGBT people; specifically, 41 percent versus 28 percent. In addition, the survey found that almost 9 in 10 same-sex couples who are now legally married under federal law said they need assistance with some type of financial planning.
“We do market research with wealthy consumers each month, and every year, we like to look at a subsegment of the population,” Walper said, adding that Spectrem Group conducted the study of LGBT individuals because they were interested in the unique needs of the group. In regards to the results of the study, Walper said Spectrem Group never tries to pre-judge an outcome of their research.
One reason the LGBT community might be especially concerned about receiving adequate financial planning assistance, Walper said, is due to the great deal of confusion and uncertainty about important financial topics like assets.
“There has been so much confusion between federal and state laws regarding assets, including where their assets go. Not every financial advisor understands the issues surrounding these topics,” he said.
One result of the study that Walper said was somewhat surprising is that the LGBT community reported being more conservative about their finances.
“Given their unique circumstances, they have a stronger utilization of wills that wasn’t at the same level of the non-LGBT community,” he said.
As a recently published article on Spectrem’s online MillionaireCorner.com noted, 73 percent of LGBT couples reported that inheritance rules were among their top financial concerns. In addition, 65 percent said they were worried about the transfer of funds to their partner given their unmarried status. Tax implications were also commonly listed as a financial concern.
Overall, Walper said, it is very important that financial planners know about the challenges that their LGBT clients are facing.
“They have to be knowledgeable about federal and state laws, otherwise, they might not be qualified to work with the LGBT community,” he said.
“If an advisor wants to be helpful and get more LGBT clients, they have to be very clear about what their skill set is, and they need to work with their business partners so everyone can work together on behalf of their same-sex clients.”
Because some LGBT individuals and couples might ask other members of the community for recommendations, Walper said once financial planners are up-to-speed on the unique issues that affect them, they should not be shy about getting the word out about their skill set.
“If the financial advisor is really smart, he or she should be asking for referrals,” he said.
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