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Treece Talk: The Benefits of Working with an LGBTQ Advisor

Treece Talk: The Benefits of Working with an LGBTQ Advisor

| June 09, 2020
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As an openly gay man, providing financial planning services to the LGBTQ community has always been a point of pride for me.

I was recently asked to speak at a national conference with Cetera Advisors in Denver about exactly that. It was like walking down memory lane, telling stories about the wonderful people I have met and how together we found a way to improve their quality of life at the time and into the future. I reminisced about how together we were able to achieve some peace of mind that they would be financially taken care of if they stuck to the strategy we mapped out.

On that day in Denver I had a big smile on my face, but it wasn’t always that way. While some people have good intentions, but they will say things like, “I’m perfectly happy to work with LGBT people,” and, “Regardless of their sexual orientation, I treat everybody the same.”

In reality, these affirmations are often defensive responses when one is faced with their own discriminatory behavior. The reality is that if you are serving the gay and lesbian community, you have to be treated differently because what is typically coming at them from the straight community is prejudice and shame.

I've seen people who, because of a lack of marriage rights, took a pension based on a single payout and lost lots of money. Some friends and clients have Social Security issues that take time to sort out. Another big challenge has to do with family inheritances because of hostile relatives who don’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The comfort level and attitude of advisors about those same issues that are specific to the gay community can also be a point of tension.

The average advisor in our industry is a 45-year-old white male*. Unfortunately, our industry has a lot more work to do with relation to increasing minority and female representation.

Obviously, we've had a big political change in the country over the past few years. With it, a lot of people who have strong points of view against LGBTQ people or immigrants or minorities have become more vocal.

In light of this, you definitely don’t want to get financial advice from somebody who's going to look down on you or say something behind your back or otherwise be uncomfortable, and maybe not respect all of the things that you've lived through.

We see this with people who may be HIV-positive and those who are aging alone, who feel they have to go back into the closet to avoid creating waves in their communities. They might also have caregivers who may not be so welcoming.

My approach is to treat all my clients, including those from the LGBTQ community, as I would like to be treated. And, at times, to get that treatment for my clients, and even for my husband, and myself, I have had to demand it, against the wishes and the traditions of the very same industry where I have chosen to pursue my career.

There are a lot of cultural competency issues that are important to doing your job right. So, it makes a difference to be working with somebody who understands all of this and is on your side, and can completely relate to a lot of the things that you've gone through. Hopefully, they are an advocate for the same LGBTQ equality and dignity that we're all fighting for.

Having my LGBT clientele and serving them has brought me great joy. It does make a difference in people’s lives, so I'm really glad to be doing it.

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