How to fix the financial gap faced by LGBTQ people

Money affects different groups of people in different ways. TD Ameritrade surveyed how the LGBTQ or Queer community uses money differently than the straight community does. One significant finding: there is a gap in the level of confidence between these groups.

According to the TD Ameritrade report, 28% of the LGBTQ respondents said they feel “not at all secure” in their personal finances. Only 17% of the straight community feel that way. (In the report, TD Ameritrade uses the word “straight” to mean cisgender, heterosexual people, which is not entirely accurate because many trans people are “straight.”)

Source: Prudential “The LGBT Financial Experience”

Perhaps part of that is to blame on the pay gap; the gender pay gap is well-known, as is the fact that minorities and people of color earn less than white workers. Perhaps less known is that queer people earn less than straight people, too.

The TD Ameritrade survey found similar results: the average personal income of a LGBTQ person is $59,400 versus $67,800 for straight individuals. On top of that, queer millennials were significantly more likely to have a side gig to bring in extra income than their cishet peers. Another survey by Prudential found similar results, and broke it down even further by sexual orientation.

“But there were things that were aligned between LGBTQ millennial investors and their straight counterparts that were quite heartening,” said Lule Demmissie, a managing director of investment products and guidance at T.D. Ameritrade.

They save at the same rate, which Demmissie says is a huge win. Demmissie also said they invest at roughly the same rate: 27% of queer people have no money invested versus only 22% of straight people.

What can be done to fix the discrepancies? It starts with the financial industry.

“Money is deeply personal,” she said. “I think as an industry we have to do a better job of being inclusive of the stories about particular members. You cannot be what you cannot see.”

“One of the simple things I do all the time is I out myself because I want to make sure that people notice that people who look like me and are me can open doors and have doors opened for them.”

Demmissie says the tent should be widened, but advisers need to be more amenable to different lifestyles. Even the idea of the American Dream can be seen differently: 49% of straight people feel very likely to achieve the quintessential American Dream by age 40. Only 35% of LGBTQ people feel that way.

Source: TD Ameritrade

“It could very well be that they think that the quintessential American dream is different for them, so the question is ‘have you constructed an American dream that includes me as well?’”