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Research finds ‘LGBT community financially sound but concerned’

A survey finds LGBT people — at least in the US — now largely share the same concerns about their financial futures as the general population, a shift from an earlier survey just four years ago, when basic rights issues were top of mind.

Money over rights?

That – it seems – is the main concern of the LGBT community, if the findings of Prudential’s research is to be believed; with LGBT people said to “largely share the same concerns about their financial futures as the general population — a shift from Prudential’s first survey just four years ago, when basic rights issues were top of mind.”

The research – “2016/2017 LGBT Financial Experience” – explored a range of changes in the financial lives of LGBT people, particularly in the US, following the landmark US Supreme Court decision mandating states to allow same-sex marriages. This time around, the main concern was financial instead of the improvement of rights.

(Unfortunately, a similar study has yet to be done in the Philippines; though the results of the research may still offer glimpses of LGBT perspectives on finances and continuing fight for human rights – Ed)

This may be an effect of mainstreaming, particularly brought by marriage equality.

Marriage rate in the LGBT community in the US, for one, more than tripled since 2012, increasing to 30% in the latest survey from just 8% in the 2012 survey. Marriage, of course, “begun to simplify finances for many, giving same-sex couples the ability to file joint tax returns, list partners on health insurance and pay health benefits with pre-tax earnings, and ensure a spouse’s interests are protected in the event of death.”

Also, the number of LGBT parents continues to grow and is expected to increase even more starting with Generation Y. Already, 23% of lesbians and 7% of gay men are fiscally responsible for a child under 18 years old. Among Gen Y study participants, 11% already have children, while an additional 49% plan to have children in the future.

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Nonetheless, even with the seeming comfort with the financial capability role, there’s worry in sourcing finances. While respondents claimed increased financial freedom, many of them also expressed concern about their general financial situations. For instance, 41% said that they are struggling to make ends meet or unable to keep up with expenses, a 10% increase from 2012.

Not surprisingly, almost half of all the survey participants – 45% – said that they need to follow a different path to meet financial needs (including saving for retirement) and urged financial advisors to consider the unique needs of LGBT clients. Also, respondents said they need more financial knowledge to reach their goals, with more than half saying they’d likely work with a financial advisor whose company supported equal rights for employees.

Respondents said unemployment, inflation and unpaid debt were the worst threats to financial security. Wage inequality, job insecurity and pension survivor benefits, and other rights continue to be concerns, but less so than in 2012.

Not surprisingly, income inequality remains. In the US, lesbian women earn less than heterosexual women, reporting an average annual salary of $45,606 vs. $51,461. Gay men, on the other hand, reported earning an average of $56,936, with heterosexual men earning $83,469.

Despite these, more LGBT respondents consider themselves as “spenders”— 48% compared to 32% of the general population.

The LGBT Financial Experience 2016-2017 was conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey in Boston, Mass., which surveyed a group of 1,376 LGBT Americans aged 25-70 from the 50 states in April and May 2016. Another 503 were surveyed from the general population. No income or other criteria were required to participate; respondents included the wealthy, the middle class and those struggling to pay bills.

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