Prudential Survey Encourages Financial Planners to Improve Services for LGBT Clients

A groundbreaking survey of LGBT Americans' financial health was released by Prudential Financial Inc. yesterday, and reveals that very few LGBT Americans are getting advice catered to them from the financial services industry. In the survey of more than 1400 LGBT-identified Americans, nearly two-thirds gave financial institutions a score of 4/10 or worse, when it came to meeting the specific needs of the LGBT community. And only one in every ten respondents said they had been approached by an adviser who addressed their specific needs. Reuters reports:

"(LGBT people) have additional particular concerns: how taxes for same-sex couples are treated and how Social Security and pension benefits accrue (or don't) for surviving partners. There is room here for financial companies to address the retirement planning needs of aging gay couples, and they do not all seem to be filling that space."

The report is the first of its kind, looking specifically at the financial needs of LGBT-identified Americans.

“We recognize that the LGBT community faces a number of unique challenges when it comes to financial planning,” says Sharon Taylor, senior vice president, Human Resources. “We hope that the insights from the study will enable both Prudential and the financial services industry to better meet the LGBT community’s financial needs.”

Financial planner Stephanie Lee told Reuters that there are a lot of things LGBT couples need to worry about that married heterosexual couples don't, and the fact that partner recognition laws are different from state-to-state, or even city-to-city, can make this area difficult to navigate.

"You have to talk about benefits for surviving partners, about tax treatment for regular marriages or domestic partners, about health directives. You have to talk about divorce, and wills, and estate-tax exemptions. And some of this changes with every state. It's a lot of information, and it can get very tricky."

Among those who took the survey, only one quarter said their financial needs were similar to those of the population at large. As the New York Times reported in 2009, a same-sex couple can pay over $200,000 more throughout a lifetime than a heterosexual married couple would in healthcare costs alone. Social Security benefits could cost a same-sex couple nearly $90,000 more, and these families could pay more than $40,000 more in estate taxes.

You can see the full results of Prudential's survey on their new LGBT Financial Experience page.