Planning, good credit are keys to financial success
It also requires a lot of responsibility. With the legislative landscape changing for same-sex couples, financial planners are beginning to take notice.
Wells Fargo Advisors was one of the first to seize on the trend. The financial advisory group inaugurated its Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisors designation in 2009 through the College of Certified Financial Planners. Being ADPA certified means that advisor provides same-sex couples, heterosexual couples who are not married and those in other relationship arrangements with specific financial advice and arrangements they need to maneuver in the changing legal landscape.
Bobby Foster is among those certified by Wells Fargo.
While the IRS recognized same-sex marriages following the 2013 United States v Windsor ruling overturning parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, municipalities and other regional entities may not, Foster said. “With the patchwork of current laws, it can be uncertain for some people,” he added.
Foster noted the difference among municipalities as close as Dallas and Fort Worth. “I’d craft a different plan with a couple in Fort Worth than in Dallas,” he said, noting Fort Worth’s recent move to extend benefits to the legal same-sex spouses of employees, “because as far as city benefits, it matters where you live.”
Beside benefits, legacy planning is also another important issue for same-sex couples and domestic partners. “The needs are the same,” Foster said, but the lack of legal recognition is another hurdle. If children of parents in same-sex relationships or partnerships are not recognized then advisors must also know how to navigate those complex legal hurdles.
Regardless of sexual orientation or legal recognition, Foster said there are a few questions everyone should ask: Are we planning for the future? How do we plan for our retirement?
However the Supreme Court rules in the pending marriage equality cases before them, he said, “We’re ready to serve regardless of the outcome.”
Do you know your credit score? If not, you might want to check it before planning your financial future, suggested Zayn Aguilar, vice president of business development and managing director of Dallas-based Creditheroes.com. A good credit score — usually around 700-plus — may make the difference between financing a home with a high or low interest.
Creditheroes.com, the queer-owned consumer advocacy group, helps consumers repair their credit while educating them about financial success. Doubling as educators and financial advisors, they work with lending partners and banks to help people achieve their goals, Aguilar said.
Aguilar insisted that the group isn’t your run-of-the-mill, shady credit repair group you see on billboards. They meet with clients personally to craft a plan about not just restoring credit, but tracking a financial future. Unlike other credit repair groups, CreditHeroes.com focuses on the middle class. And unlike other groups, who may sometimes be “one guy sitting in his living room,” Credit Heroes provides financial consulting services, for free. “Credit restoration is a way to build trust,” Aguilar said.
Another key constituency is the LGBT community. Though legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 protects consumers, oftentimes that legislation is generalized. It may miss specific issues facing the LGBT community. Aguilar cited homeowner’s insurance as an example: “If you’re not on the deed, then your items are not covered if there’s an accident.”
Even as legislation begins to benefit the LGBT community, everyone still needs to know their credit score.
On the road to financial planning, it may be best to start with learning about how to successfully watch and manage a good credit rating.
The Corporate Equality Index
Looking for other ways to utilize your pink dollar? Unsure if you’re doing business with an LGBT-friendly institution? Here are some resources to check out:
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index is billed as “the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.” In the 2015 CEI report, 366 major businesses spanning industries across the country earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Numerous banking and financial giants received one hundred percent, including Dallas-based Comerica.
The 2015 Index is available online at Hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index.
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to achieving LGBT workplace equality. They have worked with executives, human resources professionals and Employee Resource Groups from Fortune 1000 companies to provide leadership and professional development, education and research.
They also host an annual Workplace Summit, which will be held this year Oct. 5–8 in Dallas. The summit allows employees and experts to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.
More information is available at Outandequal.org.
Freedom to Work, like Out & Equal, is a national organization dedicated to protecting LGBT people from workplace harassment and career discrimination through public education, policy analysis, and legal work. They have filed groundbreaking suits, including against Irving-based ExxonMobil, alleging the corporation violated Illinois’ LGBT nondiscrimination law. To track the latest legislation and information on LGBT workplace equality, check out Freedomtowork.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 20, 2015.