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Financial Adviser Specialty: Gay and Lesbian Clients

In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of credentials financial advisers use to market their services to clients. Add one more to the mix. The Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA) program.

Created about three years ago, this program seeks to educate financial advisers on “the unique needs of clients” who are LGBT, an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.

According to a recent survey by Wells Fargo Advisors, which helped design the program, 61% of those who are LGBT say they are confident they will be able to save enough to afford the retirement lifestyle they desire, versus 53% of the general population. Still, there is a “disconnect” between that confidence level and the actual savings LGBT individuals have amassed, says Kyle Young a financial adviser and vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors.

Indeed, the median amount LGBT individuals have saved is only 17% of the $900,000 they believe they will need.

For LGBT individuals, saving for retirement is even more critical than it is for heterosexual, married couples, Mr. Young says. That’s because although LGBT individuals are able to legally marry in several states, they are not able to inherit one another’s Social Security and may not be able to inherit a  defined benefit pension benefit. Nor are they able to pass unlimited assets to one another free of gift and estate taxes. Yet another potential problem: Fewer LGBT couples have children to help them in their old age, making long-term-care insurance even more critical.

The net effect, says Mr. Young, is that “the cost of living for a LGTB couple is far greater than for a heterosexual couple.” Perhaps as a result, the LGBT respondents to the Wells Fargo survey project they will need $900,000 to retire, versus $300,000 for heterosexual couples, he adds.

If you are LGBT, should you seek out one of the 200-or-so financial advisers nationwide–many of whom work for Wells Fargo–who have earned an Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA) designation? Not necessarily. Many financial advisers should have the expertise in subjects including insurance and gift and estate taxes to be able to help a LGBT individual or couple plan for the future.  But if you don’t have an adviser you like–or if you don’t think your current adviser is sensitive to the financial risks you and your partner face–you might consider it.

To earn an ADPA designation, an adviser must have one of ten well-established credentials. These include the certified public accountant, chartered financial analyst, and certified financial planner designations that each require a rigorous course of study, as well as continuing education and adherence to codes of ethics. The ADPA, which was created by Wells Fargo in partnership with the well-respected College for Financial Planning, requires four additional courses and a passing grade on a multiple choice exam.

Advisers with the designation learn how to help couples insure themselves against the potential loss of a spouse’s Social Security or other benefits. They are also schooled in gifting strategies to enable couples with unequal wealth ensure the survivor has adequate financial resources.

Be aware that not all financial designations are equal. According to an article by my colleagues Jason Zweig and Mary Pilon:

“In recent years the number of financial credentials has soared. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversees how investments are marketed to the public, there are at least 95 different professional designations for financial advisers—nearly double the 48 it listed in 2005. Many newer credentials, however, require comparatively little effort on the part of the students.” Moreover, the article adds, “The Wall Street Journal has found at least 115 others that aren’t tracked by Finra.”


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    • npatton, I agree we are divided alraedy, to an extent’; I’m hoping if we (all the awakened) can achieve a different perspective, we can influence the full manifestation from becoming reality the worst case scenario is if this division is full blown when main street’ becomes fully engaged in the fire of crisis and few reach out to anyone for/with anything, even life saving information; thus leaving a huge door open for theft, killing and general mass hysteria with roving gangs, etc (of course, there will be some of this anyway since there are always some who don’t believe in working for what they can take however there are more people who aren’t predisposed that way and will only take that avenue if they feel they have no other option)my vision is we begin to shift our focus now from a 100% education map mode to include at least a small percentage of time to developing our inner bearings, in order to be as effective as possible to the most .as much as I would love to find the valley of John Galt, where all the awakened live (and move there), I don’t think it exists I also think we all agree, there will be dangers from others’ that are unprepared physically/intellectually/emotionally ——– there will be many with no clue how to survive when they have no heat for example, or how to grow their own food or a host of other survival skills we may not have access to computers for research and libraries may not be open so access to the information will be left to those of us who may have pieces of information others need .ergo, it seems important we think about what we have to offer, our demeanor in offering it and how to keep the judgements’ against these masses’, falling into poverty, from growing exponentially, now and later doing so, perhaps shifting some’ focus away from hurting others and becoming busy with the business of survival unless we all decide to live in our own foxholes with only the folks we’ve decided to include ..perhaps that’s best? Regardless of how many supplies we have stocked, it isn’t the only preparation we would find helpful, in my way of thinking I think we alraedy have the advantage of a long period of time to wrap our minds around this coming full blown crisis that hasn’t been fully appreciated nor have we thought much about how it might be utilized to help the unprepared as things unfold in all it’s uglinessand last but not least, are we prepared to defend ourselves, if necessary? To what extent? Can we live with the outcome? How will we process the details of such action?Just last week I caught myself nearly shouting (mentally), attempting to achieve hearing in others and feeling a sense of urgency about the non hearing even in those beginning to awaken I find a desire in them to nod off’ again, rather than looking at what they face in coming times if I was feeling that way, I suspect others are too it occurred to me it’s time to shift some of my energy to what I’ll do after’ everyone is awakened (some forcibly through circumstances) and wanted to share my thoughts thank you for engaging this conversation npatton and congratulations on awakening 20 and those they’ve shared with ! my stats are not that good (I have steered many to from the wilderness I think that counts for maybe a fifth of one point for each one that read something MCR and team ferreted out for us? Lolol – sense of humor still intact ! ) *no offense to you MCR and team I only minimize because I don’t possess any stats on the outcome of the referrals’

    • The back roads and by-ways are the best thing about Yucatan. Well it is the best thing about Latin America in general, I try to go to the end of the pmneaevt, the end of the gravel, the end of the dirt and if there is a 4 4 under my seat, I go to the end of the track then turn around and find another. Great fun and adventure can be found in the back country.Congrats on going national.

    • Shamuni — consider the pbiiioslsty that the turd in the punchbowl has grown so large and stinky that we have given them no choice but to finally acknowledge it.The mainstream press admits reality only when it has to, and then embraces it as their own discovery. That’s their last hope of trying to control it and maintain credibility.Between the movie and the book the people can figure this out for themselves now; or not.OK, show of hands please… How many people who know me actually think I’d let myself be co-opted?Did Neil Young?MCR

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  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.