“How Homophobic Are You?”
I have always encouraged questions from prospective clients about my experience and education, my financial team, and the way my firm does business. I also give them a free copy of my book, How to Get Great Advice & Avoid Financial Scams. In the book, I explain how different advisers work, what their licensing and credentials signify, and how they get paid. I also outline over 50 questions that every investor should ask before hiring an adviser.
A Fair Question: “Jane” had read my book cover-to-cover, but she still had one big question at our first meeting. “There’s no polite way to ask this,” she shared as we sat down, “so I’ll just say it . . . How homophobic are you?” I’ll confess that I was a little taken aback by the question, but not for the reasons you might suspect. Jane disclosed to me that she is in a long-term, same-sex relationship. She wanted to know if that would be a problem for me. I quickly put Jane’s mind at ease with my reply, “Not at all. In fact, my firm has existing clients in same-sex relationships. Some are married. Some are not.” The relief that appeared on Jane’s face made me both happy and sad at the same time. I was glad she found comfort in my reply, but, frankly, I was disheartened that this question still needs to be asked in 2014.
More to It: That being said, I applaud Jane for asking her question for this reason: There’s much more to this subject than just having a comfortable relationship with your adviser.
1. A financial professional who shies away from advising same-sex partners is unlikely to be well-versed in the new and changing rules that affect them.
2. If you are going to ask someone for guidance with your finances, you cannot let their ignorance get in the way of your best interests.
The financial, tax, and legal rules for same-sex couples can be very different than those for heterosexual marriages. Eligibility for Social Security benefits, pension plans and insurance products often work differently. Also, federal tax rules depend on the state where the marriage took place. I recently invited a guest on my radio show to help untangle these topics. James Lange, CPA and attorney, wrote the book, Retire Secure! For Same-Sex Couples: Live Gay, Retire Rich. (If you are interested in learning more, the book is available on Amazon.com; and, our radio interview can be found on PlanStronger.com and on my free Mobile App: Real Money with David Holland.)
I’m looking forward to a second meeting with Jane, joined this time by her partner. My team and I have put together a plan that not only helps them achieve their retirement goals, but that also considers their individual circumstances and the implications of their long-term relationship. So, please, if you have a question, just ask! My reward – and fulfillment – comes from helping EVERYONE plan stronger!
David D. Holland, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, hosts a weekday radio show at 9AM on AM1380 Ormond Beach, AM1230 New Smyrna Beach and AM1490 Deland. He has also authored two books in his Confessions of a Financial Planner series. Holland offers investment advice through Holland Advisory Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser in Ormond Beach. He can be contacted at (386) 671-7526. Email your financial questions to info@DavidHolland.com.