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Market split over merits of LGBT advice

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists are split over the need for specialist financial planning services after the boss of a firm targeting clients from the community said she was “staggered” by homophobic comments she overheard at a recent event for financial planners.

LGBT Money founder Arlene Addison says she was appalled when she heard offensive remarks that were made by other advisers behind her back at an industry conference where she was looking to recruit financial planners to work with her organisation.

She says: “It was really disappointing. I would open up a conversation with someone about what we need and what we require in an adviser and then I would hear all the jokes just after the conversation. Most of the responses were probably fine, but it is just unbelievably shocking that there are still people who discriminate and it reminds me why I need the company.”

LGBT Money is an introducer which pairs clients with chartered financial planners who Addison has vetted and believes will be approachable and non judgemental.

While Addison herself is a senior partner at St James’s Place, around half of the advisers that LGBT Money refers clients to are fully independent.  She hopes to grow the total number of referral partners to 60 over the coming years.

Yet many will question whether there is a need for this type of tailored approach in 2018, five years after MPs voted in favour of same-sex marriage rights and six years on from the introduction of gender-neutral pricing in the insurance market. In fact, some spokespeople within the LGBT community are vehemently opposed to the launch of an adviser that is branded in this way, believing it is a retrograde step.

Removing barriers

Addison says she founded the firm as LGBT Finance in 2005 when she was working with same-sex couples who needed financial planning help as they looked to take advantage of the new Civil Partnerships Act. However, owing to the credit crisis and then health problems the venture did not fully get off the ground. Last year, she decided it was time to relaunch under the LGBT Money brand with a new website.

Addison’s argument is that by signposting itself as an LGBT-friendly organisation, the firm will remove some of the barriers that might deter people from seeking financial advice. She says some clients, particularly if they are older, still feel uncomfortable talking about a same-sex partner and that by offering a service that “does what it says on the tin” they can avoid a difficult conversation.

She says: “It takes away that initial awkward five minutes, because the clients who come to us via the website know that we are already expecting them to be living their lives within the LGBT community.”

One of the IFAs that LGBT Money refers clients to is Melville Independent director of operations Raymond Milne. He says clients who come down this route have often had uncomfortable experien-ces elsewhere.

“When I see a client who happens to be LGBT and I ask why they have come to see us and whether they have tried going elsewhere, they sometimes say thatthey have found other advisers are not open. They say that sometimes other advisers are afraid of asking them questions, because they may be embarrassed themselves.”

Yet Technology & Technical managing director Kim North, says: “It is beyond me why there would need to be a referral service for the gay community. Our financial planning needs are exactly the same as those of heterosexuals. I have been with my partner for 26 years, we became civil partners when we could and now plan to marry.

“I question whether there is any empirical evidence that gay people struggle to find the most suitable financial advice. All of my gay friends are very happy with their straight (or not) financial advisers. I don’t believe that gay people need to be offered a different financial planning service.

“Why, when gay rights have been improved to equality in the UK, are we now being compartmentalised in financial services like in the homophobic years of the past?”

North adds: “Years ago, gay men were discriminated against by the insurance industry when underwritten for protection policies, but I do not believe that bias exists now.

“There are so few gay financial planners that are ‘out’ as it is everyone’s right to disclose their sexuality, or not. I simply believe that financial planners need to be aware of the Equality Act and financial planning is based upon the information provided in the fact-find by the client, gay or not.”

End of discrimination

Compass Mortgage and Insurance services practice manager Chris Morgan was a leading activist who fought discrimination by insurers against gay men in the years running up to 2005. He played a pivotal role in the reform of the industry. But like North, Morgan also believes that the need for LGBT-tailored financial advice no longer exists.

He says: “Back in 2001, there was automatic loading of premiums, automatic HIV testing and very intrusive, personal questions about sexuality and living arrangements. I had been a financial adviser working at the edge of Soho for a bank in a position where I was having to ask those questions and I knew it was wrong. So I decided to start my own practice, Compass, for people who were being discriminated against.”

Later, Morgan worked with insurers to bring about life cover for people living with HIV and his advice firm caters to clients with pre-existing medical conditions.

He says: “The main area of discrimination that gay men were subjected to has been removed. The main driver for buying a product now within the gay community is price and service standards, the same things as any consumer cares about. It is only if an LGBT person happens to be living with HIV that they should most definitely take specialist financial advice.”

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Neil Liversidge 9th May 2018 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve had gay and lesbian clients for years, and have never dealt with them in any way different to the way I deal with everyone else. I see any reason to do differently and am pretty sure they would feel insulted if we did.

  2. derek bradley 9th May 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Some thoughts.

    Back in 2016 we noted some startling news that women having NHS funded sex changes were also being given NHS fertility treatment so they can have babies after they become men.

    The next step in this odyssey was to be that the transgendered woman (now to be legally recognised as a ‘man’) whose frozen eggs have been used to create a baby should be ‘legally recognised’ as the child’s father, rather than their mother.

    Still with me?

    So, the direction of travel with this interesting journey seem to be requiring a compass reset with the statement in 2017 from the Minister of Women and Equalities, Justin Greening MP, who said she wanted to cut the stigma faced by transpeople.

    Government plans would see “adults choose their sex legally without the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria”.

    A report went on to say that:

    “Men will be able to identify themselves as women – and women as men – and have their birth certificates change to record their new gender”

    The world has come a long way from the ‘boomer years, light years in fact from my parents generation.

    The Kinks 60’s iconic song is now very real life it would seem.

    Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, said: ‘The current system is demeaning and broken. But where is this brave new world thinking sending us?

    We have schools setting policies for ‘transgender equality’ by way of gender-neutral uniforms and toilet provisions.

    Southampton University’s Student union demanded that sanitary bins be installed in male toilets for transgender men who menstruate.

    Staff at a Swedish kindergarten were told not to refer to children as ‘him’ or ‘her’ to avoid stereotyping and TFL is doing away with referring to passengers on the tube as ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’.

    Before anyone gets ‘offended on someone else’s behalf’, a serious question. How common in LGBT land is the non-binary gender in the UK?

    This being defined as a person whose “self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender”.

    The Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) estimated that barely 1% of the British population could be gender nonconforming to ‘some degree’. The numbers of trans boys and trans girls are about equal. That is some 640,000.

    At the end of 2014, most reliable figures indicated that at least 0.4% of the UK population defined itself as non-binary when given a 3-way choice in terms of female, male or another description.

    That’s about 256,000. I am not sure that this is a large enough nationwide number to base a business segmentation model on

    To accommodate the needs and rights of this very small societal group, there are three UK Gender Recognition Registers, not by gender choice but by region (England and Wales together, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and anyone with a UK birth certificate who is issued with a ‘Gender Recognition Certificate’ is entitled to a new birth or adoption certificate, which is recorded in one of those Gender Recognition Registers.

    As of the end of June 2015, since the Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into force in April 2005:
    • 4,631 new birth certificate applications had been received
    • 3,999 full Gender Recognition Certificates have been issued by the GRP
    • 183 interim Gender Recognition Certificates have been issued by the GRP (67% converted to full GRCs)
    • 193 applications have been declined
    • 110 applications are still pending

    A survey found that 48% of ‘trans people’ under 26 had tried to commit suicide, 30% done so in the past year and 59% said they had at least considered doing so, presenting an interesting factor in life insurance underwriting?

    So irrespective of any readers personal views on the matter, which will be a spectrum ranging from incredulity as to how such a very small percentage of the population has developed such a powerful, possibly disproportionate influence, to the deep concerns felt by many that those affected can live in a very dark and confused place needing help.

    The issues for the financial services industry that arise from this could be considerable.

    The gender directive had serious cost implications for all insurance products, seeing the costs of protection for women increase to the same level that men pay, despite life expectancy being so different.
    How will a ‘transgender’ or ‘non-binary’ be underwritten when you can now decide your own gender or change it yourself or possibly even change it back?

    Germaine Greer got in a lot of trouble a while back when giving a lecture at Cardiff University. She said “Just because you lop off your penis and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a ******* woman,”.

    She has a point- genetically and chemically.

    DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is found in just about all-living things and is the main component contained within chromosomes. It is the carrier of the genetic code that identifies the unique, distinctive and very importantly, unchangeable human male and female characteristics meaning that if you are ‘Arthur’, ‘Martha’ or travelling in-between, the transgender DNA remains as the definitive marker that just cannot be changed.

    What about transgender underwriting for Annuities, Healthcare, Critical Illness, clearly a potential problem, particularly if ‘parts’ have been added or taken away?

    Male drivers pay more for car insurance than their female counterparts – despite strict gender equality laws – due to a loophole that lets firms charge more based on a person’s job.

    But what about the European equality laws, these did not seem to factor in- the ‘Lola’ driver?

    Will non-binary be built into robo-advice algorhytmns and proposal forms?

    With all this in mind, Oxford City Council was to add on its official forms the gender-neutral option of “Mx” as it considers whether all title salutations should disappear.

    Even traffic lights have not escaped being politically correctly re-engineered with the traditional green man sign replaced with LGBT symbols at fifty pedestrian crossings around the Trafalgar Square area in June 2016.

    And, what about dressing for work?

    The TUC is investigating gender-related problems associated with workplace dress codes and personal protective equipment (PPE). The probe follows reports of sexism related to work clothing, including stipulations to wear high heels, and the provision of ill-fitting PPE for women.

    A survey by the union Prospect found just 29 per cent of women said their protective clothing was designed for females. The TUC wants to hear of examples of bad practice, but is also keen to hear examples of good agreements and policies on dress code.

    And as for the USA, President Donald Trump has confirmed that transgender people cannot serve in “any capacity” in the military if they are still in transition as he does not want the state to cover the huge medical costs.

    For my generation and that of my parents, it is a “very mixed up, muddled up, shook up” world indeed as the country appears to being subjected to minority influenced, politically correct socio re-engineering to accommodate less than 1% of the population.

    Goodness knows at what cost.

    The world of financial services industry is already fraught with confusions, challenges and conundrums. How will it keep pace?

    Just a thought as I said.

    • I can’t see that all this is going to cause any real problems. If anything the EU gender directive makes this whole thing a lot simpler. Regardless of gender, from birth or choosing, just treat everyone fairly with respect, dignity and understanding.

      Doing that shouldn’t affect the 99% that identify as a traditional gender and hopefully it will just help that 1% feel more accepted by society and should bring down the shockingly high suicide rate amongst young people with gender identity quandaries.

  3. Nicholas Pleasure 9th May 2018 at 3:54 pm

    It’s very sad if anyone finds discrimination when approaching an adviser.

    Strangely I have a number of LGBT clients, despite never having marketed for them. Broadly their needs are the same as everyone elses so I cannot see any benefit in specialist services, other than to be sure to avoid the bigots.

    • Nicholas

      Plenty of advisers discriminate. It may not be on gender, but on wealth and assets. Its still discrimination and in a free society I guess we will always have some forms of discrimination. Intelligence, height, weight, income, age (yes it is still discriminated against), accent, education and so forth.

      Sad but true.

  4. You learn something every day. I thought the initials had something to do with Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches.

    Why should people of these proclivities have any different financial needs from the rest of society. Indeed the same could be said of people who try and make a case for women needing different advice. It’s all marketing hype and for years I have advocated changing August 12 from Grouse to Marketing shooting.

  5. @Derek Bradley – genuinely informative comment (although Lola was released in the 1970s…just).

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