As the Orlando shootings illustrated, we still have a long way to go when it comes to seeing the LBGT community through a compassionate and equal lens. These inequalities also play out in their financial experiences. BlackEnterprise.com caught up to Kent Sluyter, CEO of Individual Life Insurance and Prudential Advisors to discuss how people can create financial security as society still struggles to evolve around issues of gender and sexual preference.
BlackEnterprise.com: We’ve seen the country struggle with the civil rights of the LBGT community in the wake of the Orlando massacre. We don’t often think of ways in which gender preference plays out in economic rights. What are some of the main areas in which the LGBT community struggles to find economic equality?
Sluyter: We’ve come a long way to ensure equal, basic human rights for the LGBT community, but there is still work to do. In a study Prudential issued last week on the financial concerns, hopes, and desires of the LGBT community, Prudential found that LGBT respondents are more likely to say they are struggling financially than are the general population (41% versus 27% of general population). When asked how thinking about their financial future makes them feel, LGBT respondents’ comments surface a lot of concern—many use words such as worried, nervous, anxious, and uncertain. The reasons for these emotions are often linked to a lack of savings or preparation for the future. While the income gap is commonly viewed through the lens of gender inequality, there is also a significant income gap linked to sexual orientation. On average, heterosexual women earn less than heterosexual men, bisexual women earn less than bisexual men, and lesbian women earn less than gay men. Likewise, on average, lesbian women surveyed earn less than heterosexual women.
Where would you tell members of the LBGT community to start when it comes to financial planning? What are some steps they can take right now to create financial security?
For individuals and couples looking to build a solid understanding of their finances and begin to plan for the future, education is a key first step. If you prefer to work with a financial adviser, make sure he or she is sensitive to and educated about the needs of the LGBT community. Assess your finances and create a budget to ensure you are both saving money for an emergency and for retirement. Do not forgo the opportunity to contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, especially if your employer offers a matching program.
Sluyter adds that one of the best ways to create financial security for your loved ones who depend on you financially is to purchase a life insurance policy. “By purchasing a life insurance policy, your spouse and children will be protected. It is an easy, inexpensive, and quick step to create greater financial security.”