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    How to Cope with a Financial Industry That Doesn’t Get You

    By Brandon Miller, CFP–

    I’ll let you in on a little secret. The financial industry has an extremely traditional focus—even though many people don’t fit the conventional mom, dad, and 1.9 kids mold.

    The problem with the industry being out of step with reality is that real regular people may have to work harder to find money solutions and strategies that apply to them. Many financial professionals, and even robo-tools, may not be geared to use out-of-the-box thinking for less-than-conventional clients.

    Such a pity, as that’s one of the really fun parts of financial planning. After 20 years of helping the LGBTQ+ community to manage their money, I’ve seen more variety in the human condition than most anthropologists. My feeling is that you don’t hire me to judge you; you hire me for my judgment about how to optimize your finances so that you can live the life you want. In other words, I don’t care if you have a penchant for the ponies and Texas hold ‘em. I just need to know how much you spend on them so we can figure that into your financial plan.

    If you’re hiring a financial professional to advise you, they typically should think about all of the angles that need covering to make your money work for you, no matter how unique your goals are. Let me give you a few examples:

    Unmarried Couple

    Gay or straight, couples have many reasons for not wanting to get married. Laws most often protect only state-sanctioned “I do’s.” So you have to work around things such as cash flow (you can’t “give” an unmarried partner more than $14k per year), the loss of the double step-up in cost basis for real estate that married couples get, or having children from a previous marriage kick your lover out of the home after you’re gone.

    Long-term Mistress—or Mister

    Maybe you’re married, but have been spicing up your love life with a side dish for years. Do you pay for their apartment? Is that impacting your retirement savings? Do you want to make special provisions for your lover after you’re gone?

    Throuples, Quintouples and Other ‘ouples

    U.S. laws don’t allow bigamy, so if you’re in a committed relationship with more than one person, it’s up to you to protect yourself and your partners. The more people who are involved, the more complicated it gets. Some things to think about include how to handle cash flow and shared expenses. Will you keep one or multiple households? And what will be the long-term impacts of things like different retirement ages?

    Blended Families

    We’re not talking the Brady Bunch here (although Carol and Greg’s real-life affair shows that even they weren’t traditional). These days, families can include stepkids, half-siblings, adoptees, surrogacies, and even uncles/aunties/de facto parents who may not have blood ties or legal rights, but lots of emotional ties. Inheritance can get ugly easily. Make sure that you work with someone who can save your loved ones from that fate.

    Special Needs Dependents

    Some financial products expect that you’ll have kids—just not ones who may need lifelong care because of physical or mental challenges. Special needs trusts, 529 plans, and government assistance can help. But you also have to think about your own retirement and how to avoid burdening other kids.

    Start-up Winner

    Talk about not normal. Who earns millions in their twenties? But hey, if you’re one of those fortunate ones, be smart. Know it won’t last, and plan for your future. Yes, you can afford the house and boat and motorcycle. But did you plan for ongoing maintenance, taxes, insurance, and all of the other expenses that these toys come with? How many friends and family can you really help? It’s best to work with someone right off the bat to help protect that fortune before it vanishes.

    This barely touches on the variety of less-than-traditional lifestyles and the challenges that they present. My point is to illustrate that 1) whoever you are should be perfectly fine with whomever is advising you, and 2) the industry’s conventional bent won’t hamstring you if your financial advisor takes the time to listen and think in new ways to make your dreams come true—even if that is miles away from a life with a picket fence and 1.9 kids. 

    The opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. Brio does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. As always, please remember that investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital; please seek advice from a licensed professional.

    Brio Financial Group is a registered investment adviser. SEC Registration does not constitute an endorsement of Brio by the SEC nor does it indicate that Brio has attained a particular level of skill or ability. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Brio Financial Group and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Brio Financial Group unless a client service agreement is in place.

     Brandon Miller, CFP®, is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.