S02 EP06: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Financial Planning Profession

S2Ep06 New Episode Template.png

Brian Thompson, CFP®, and David Rae, CFP®, AIF™, are financial planners in the LGBTQ space. Brian worked for over a decade as a tax attorney before founding his fee-only financial planning practice. David has worked as a financial planner and fiduciary investment advisor since 2004. He works with both LGBTQ individuals and community allies to grow their financial literacy and help them plan with confidence.

Both Brian and David are working to start conversations around LGBTQ financial concerns in the financial planning profession. In this episode, they’re diving into how all planners can better serve the LGBTQ niche, support their fellow LGBTQ advisors, and approach conversations about LGBTQ inclusivity as an ally.

Learning how we can support planners and advisors in the LGBTQ community, and how we can become better advisors to serve our clients - simply by being more knowledgeable about the many facets of diversity.

We want to create a space for people to learn about how diversity, inclusion, and allyship works. More than that, we want to create a space for all of us to learn from one another and to embrace our differences. Whether that’s at a financial planning conference or in our businesses as financial planners, we want everyone to be showing up as their authentic selves.

This conversation was exciting for me as the host of 2050 TrailBlazers. I was able to sit on the other side of the table and show up as an ally for the LGBTQ community. It was an incredible experience, and I’m grateful for the insights and feedback that both David and Brian brought to this episode. This conversation is as vulnerable as it gets, and I’m loving that everyone involved in this episode brought their honest selves and best intentions to this episodes.

What You'll Learn:

  • How to embrace making mistakes as long as you're coming from a place of good intention and love

  • How to be open and curious about someone else’s life

  • Small changes you can make in your life and your work to indicate that you are a safe space and that you are an ally

  • What “signals” can you give to indicate your support to the LGBTQ community

  • How you can use different pictures to indicate inclusivity on your website and in your marketing

  • What type of inclusive language you can incorporate into your hiring process

  • How to provide health insurance that’s inclusive to the LGBTQ community as an employer

  • How to ask questions as statements to avoid being offensive - “I’m curious to hear more about your lifestyle, and what your experience has been.”

  • Curiosity doesn’t have to be aggressive, it can be honest and vulnerable, too

Show Notes:

Episode Transcript

Rianka: 00:00:00 So I'm so excited to bring you both here today on 2050 trailblazers. One of the latest episodes just dropped about, you know, using your privilege as a white woman and the overwhelming response of thank you and gratitude and these are great ideas. Thank you. We're going to take it back to our organization has been overwhelming. Has been so overwhelming.

Brian: 00:00:25 Yeah. I'm so glad to hear it. It was such a good episode.

Rianka: 00:00:28 Thank you. Thank you. I mean it just goes. I mean, it's that me? It's You all, you all who are coming on to this platform and truly, you know, just letting down that layer of um, just that layer that we all put up that it's a layer of protection honestly. And on the heels of us recording and on the heels of. I don't know if she's your favorite first lady, but she, she's definitely mine.

David: 00:01:05 I'm assuming we're all talking about the same person.

Rianka: 00:01:09 Former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Yes. Her book just came out yesterday at the time of this recording and what I love about Arlene and Sonya's episode and what I'm reading thus far in Becoming, which is the name of Michelle Obama's book, is that being your authentic self and sharing your story is so important and the reason why I asked both of you on today is because as we know, season two is all about allyship. It is not a noun, it's a verb, it's the action, the daily practices that we do in order to help marginalized voices and marginalized groups. Now, I'm excited about this episode because I get to sit on the side of the table of ally.

David: 00:02:03 Yes. Thank you.

Brian: 00:02:06 I'm really excited for this podcast too. I think this is going to be a great episode.

Rianka: 00:02:10 Yeah, and why I sit on this table of ally is because. Well, you know, I don't want to tell your story. So how about we start there. David. Brian, who are you? How did you get into financial planning and you two have both distinct firms for a specific reason, so let's talk about it.

Brian: 00:02:33 Sounds good. I guess I will start since I've already started talking, I started my firm a couple of years ago, Brian Thompson Financial LLC with a focus on serving LGBTQ couples. Uh, I was a lawyer for 10 years before and I wanted to be a little bit more proactive rather than reactive with clients, especially people my age. Marriage equality was just starting to take hold and I felt that there was

Brian: 00:03:00 such an opportunity to help my community, help us learn the benefits and the advantages that we're going to get now. That marriage was something that was available to us. Um, so I, I made a specific effort to focus on LGBTQ couples and also to make sure that people of color felt like they had a safe space and they saw me out there. One of the things about why I started my own firm was because I didn't see people like me or people who were both a person of color and LGBTQ. I just didn't see advisors out there. So I wanted to make my own space so that people could see me doing my thing and know that they had a safe space to come and plan with me.

Rianka: 00:03:41 Thanks Brian. And David. So I know Brian and typically what I do for the listeners I share, you know, how I know, you know, the guest that comes on because usually I have a relationship with them. So Brian and I have been in the same circle for a couple of years now. We're both a part of the xy planning network. Um, you know, Brian is a 40 under 40 investment news, 40 under 40 a alum like myself as well. And then David, David, I, um, I've always known you from afar. You're like one of my social media friends, but just never had a chance to meet in person. And you're a part of XYPN as well, right?

David: 00:04:22 Yes. I'm newer to XYPN. I joined April 2017 right before I launched my own firm, DRM Wealth Management. But I started way back in the industry in 2003 at a great firm I was in a broker dealer which kind of grew into a hybrid RIA type space and have been doing financial planning for friends of the LGBT community. I think at first I really wanted to focus only on LGBT folks, you know, I was taking on my LGBT clients or gay clients or gay friends and then their parents needed help or their coworkers needed help and if they're cool with me being gay and what I'm bringing to the table and my all my fun stuff, I should be cool with their stuff. And it kind of has really grown into a great, great way for me to run my business. And I think we're talking about allies here a little today and I definitely had some great allies along the way to help me build where I was going.

David: 00:05:17 I decided to launch my own firm last year when the fiduciary was theoretically going to actually happen. I didn't need the broker dealer anymore. I didn't want the broker dealer anymore and I felt I was taking all are getting all of the negatives of being in the broker dealer space without really getting the commissions and the big paydays that go with earning those commissions. So I decided to launch my own RIA and I met Brian before joining a XYPN. I think I met him at Fin con about three or four years ago and it struck it off, hit it off really well and it's just great to meet other people that are working in the LGBTQ, uh, all those initial space for financial planning because there's such, such a gap for the community of, of making smart financial decisions and really getting where they need to be.

Rianka: 00:06:02 Yeah. And I will love to talk about that again, like I am. I am on this, on this side of the table of ally. I've had a couple of clients who have been in same sex relationships but not a full practice or you know, a targeted outreach of having just gay clients. And so I'll say that I am going to be as honest as possible. With saying I am so nervous that I'm going to say the wrong thing, so I, I hear, I receive and I feel what Arlene and Sonya was talking about coming on to 2050 trailblazers about being, you know, just like white women and like, Hey, we want to help and be allies, but we don't want to say the wrong thing. So I am, I am channeling the spirit of. I would rather be 90 percent right then to say nothing at all and be silent.

Brian: 00:06:56 I think an important and powerful experience from that podcast that I received yesterday was that they were both open and vulnerable about what was happening in their life and what they were doing and, and the anxieties that they have just like you expressed. So to me that's the best learning tool that we can give is have a good intention and be open and vulnerable, about what you do and you don't know and being willing to learn from each other.

Rianka: 00:07:21 So for everyone, because we're throwing out a lot of acronyms and not everyone may know what LGBTQ means. So can we explain that?

David: 00:07:30 I don't know what the Q means it could be like five different Qs it could be depending on who you ask, so I'll even throwing that out there because you know, don't feel bad if you don't know what all these things are. We'll explain in a minute, but there are questions. I have my experience as a gay man, which may be different than L for lesbian would be different than a B for bi or T for transgender and everyone has their own experience and you're gonna if you're an ally and you're showing love, hopefully the person you're showing love to will not give you a negative reaction if you're trying, even if you get it wrong. And then the Q could be questioning or queer. I, Brian, I'll let you chime in on that. And there's A. There's a few more little initials that you can see added on there at different points in time too. There's a lot of cock there

Brian: 00:08:18 right and that's a really great point that you know there's, are some are versions of this so I've always understood LGBTQIA as the long version. So it's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. I always use the Q as queer, but I've heard that questioning as well, um, and the intersex and asexual, so a lot of people either say LGBTQ plus or LGBTQIA and I think there's sometimes two Qs in there for the queer and the questioning. So there's different versions, but they're all, to me, I love the using the term queer for Q because that to me is all encompassing for the people that we're talking about. We're just different in different ways,

David: 00:09:02 but there's a generational divide on the, on the queer thing. I know when like Huffington Post changed their, their LGBT section to like queer voices. There was a lot of pushback on that from people within the community just didn't like that term. But then I talk to younger people who are like queer, this queer that, you know, there are totally embracing it and it's such a. I think it's really a great inclusive term for people that want to embrace it because the queer community is a really wide range of, of people and sexual orientations. And I have some people that are calling themselves queer that otherwise would be called heterosexual, but they're really part of the greater gay community.

Brian: 00:09:40 There's actually a guide that we mentioned. I was doing a Webinar on Monday and they talked about Allies Guide to Terminology. I'm glad. So if you're really interested in learning more about the different terminologies, you can have a resource there.

Rianka: 00:09:53 Oh yeah. I, I attended the Webinar on, um, on, on Monday. It was a really great webinar. So I already have that prepped and ready into show notes. It's called An Allies Guide to Terminology. There'll be a pdf in the show notes for you to check out. I was reviewing it and it's, is really eye opening and it's helpful as well, so that, again, you don't have to be right 100 percent of the time, but, you know, silence is, is just not. Okay. Um, so there's, there's two sides that I want, I, I hope we can tackle today. Um, I know one episode is not enough. Um, but that's the beauty about this podcast is that we have multiple seasons. So, so this does not have to be the end all, be all, but it can be the start of a really authentic, great conversation and what I am hoping to learn how to be an ally in is from the financial planner side and also from the client side. So from a planner side, as far as me being your colleague or your peers or colleagues in the profession, what are some of the ways that we can be an ally? Um, I'm thinking about some folks who are still afraid to truly be open and expressively just their self. They're like suppressing who they really are in the workspace. So what can we do? Like if we see that, how can we show them that, hey, this is a place where you can be yourself.

Brian: 00:11:37 To me it, it starts with the personal work of sort of talking about this, realizing that allyship, like you said at the beginning is a verb and making sure that you are practicing your allyship every day. Um, and showing this person, if it is a person that you work with, that you're open to new ideas, you're

Brian: 00:11:53 open to appreciating their life and their lifestyle. You want to hear more, you want to get curious about their life and understanding that you may make mistakes and that it's okay as long as you're coming from a place of good intention. Um, and so making sure that you're out there doing those types of things. I think it's also little things like maybe if you have gay friends mentioning your gay friends, I go to a barbershop and I've always sort of been weird because of the homophobia in the black community about being out in certain places. Um, and I went to the barber shop and he had a advocate magazine on the table and that immediately switched my perspective. Um, how safe I was in the space. It wasn't anything he said it wasn't anything he did other than having a magazine on the table that said, I understand that this is a, this is a part of my community and you're safe here. Um, so doing things like that, making sure that you let this person know that you appreciate their life and their life, how they live their life and that you're open to learning more about it.

Rianka: 00:12:58 Yeah. It's the small steps that we can take. And I'm smiling because I'm thinking back to the previous episode and Arlene was saying, um, because I was saying a sticker isn't enough. Right. And if that's the only thing you do, then no. However, yes it is. It is. The start it's a shirt, a sticker, a magazine, in a very open space. It is a signal. Yeah. I was probably a little bit dismissive with the sticker, but it's comforting and that is just a really great example of how a magazine in a black barbershop that says advocate is a huge, huge thing because yes, homophobia in the black community is real.

David: 00:13:45 Absolutely. I love that Arlene was wearing her black cfps matter shirt in the airport. It's the little things. And it can go a long way because that also sends a message, you know, I don't know who brought that magazine in or how about ended up there, but it does send a message to the rest of the barbers. To the rest of the clientele that this is a safe space and they maybe want to watch what they say if they aren't pro gay or you know, if they have a little homophobia in there or are nervous that, you know, maybe you know, if this guy thinks it's okay, maybe I should take a second look or think it's okay. And I know I've talked to people over the years, like I don't know any other gay people. And then they realize they do know a ton of gay people and people, they like their kid's teacher. It's their barber, it's their, you know, their friend or their family member that just wouldn't tell them. And all of a sudden they realize, oh my God, I know a lot of amazing LGBT people. Were not so scary

Rianka: 00:14:44 And so what, so from, from inside the firms, inside the organizations, um, I, I guess, what can organizations do for organizations, head of organizations or just even anyone who want to make their office space, make the organization for a little bit more inclusive, what are some of the steps? I mean maybe having an advocate magazine out is, is one, but from a firm perspective, from an organization perspective, what can they do?

David: 00:15:14 I'll say when I was hired at my previous firm way back in 2003, they mentioned in their hiring process and the interview process that they were a very diverse company. They kind of highlighted some of the diversity they had and they mentioned that they had other people who supported the LGBT community and this was a good large group interview at the very beginning. So that was kind of like, you know, encompassing to everyone. And I went ding, ding, ding, this could be the place I should go work, you know, because I was, you know, early twenties wanted to. It was still feeling my way out around the financial industry and really wanted to be somewhere where I could be gay and comfortable or not get two years in or three years in and build up this book of business and work my butt off and then all of a sudden have my career come crashing down because they found out I was gay.

David: 00:15:57 My big dark secret and just the little things like that. Mentioning it in the process or it's as simple as like inclusive language on like company invites. If you have a client lunch or you have a employee lunch or employee awards banquet type thing. Just being a significant other or spouse you know, partner whatever. Whatever it is, being conscious of who's around and who might be coming to work for you or who might be seeing this so that they know that if you are in a same sex relationship or some alternative relationship, you can bring your significant other. Whoever that person is, you know, husband, wife, whatever, that they're welcome and you know you're not going to face negative consequences based on your sexual orientation. If you bring someone in, they make a mess of themselves. That's a different conversation.

Brian: 00:16:46 Yeah, I definitely agree. Especially with the inclusive language, making sure that if someone, you're in a hiring process, making sure that you have, that you are open to diverse applicants or you want diverse applicants. Um, I also think pictures are important to being able to see different types of people on your firm's website, um, whether it's people that you're serving or people who would look at who work at the firm. I'm showing that you are inclusive in the people that you want to attract because you can say one thing and then if somebody goes to your website and just sees all white men, they may think something different. So both the inclusive language and the pictures that you see on the website I think are important.

Rianka: 00:17:26 I'm happy you mentioned the hiring process because during the hiring process it's one thing to go through, you know, just being interviewed, getting a feel of the, a team there, but also part of, I believe revealing if this is a good fit for you as far as the firm organization is reviewing their health insurance. So what are some of the things that, um, again, we should be thinking about, um, when making sure we're building an inclusive team, health insurance as we know is a huge, huge piece of a family's financial responsibility. Um, especially if they are a same sex couple and want to bring children into the world or adopt children. So what are some of the, what are some of the things that we should be thinking about from a health insurance benefits package that may just be overlooked?

Brian: 00:18:20 I, I love the idea of, especially when it comes to adoption, like you mentioned, being able to provide benefits for that. Um, also I think the transgender community has a lot of health issues that are not covered by insurance, especially if we're talking about gender reassignment surgery or, um, those types of things, making sure that your health insurance is as broad and inclusive as it can be. So those types of things are covered. Um, and then also like just making sure that you're, we sort of talked about this before the language, um, making sure that spouses are covered or partners are covered and you're not just talking about husband and wife, those types of things. It's all about the language and how, what people experience when they're going in and they're looking at these benefits and what they see.

David: 00:19:08 I think this is one of the areas that has gotten a little better thanks to Obamacare because I know a lot of people were maybe stuck in jobs before, you know, if you were living with HIV, which is unfortunately prevalent in the community, uh, or any other health issues, you were really tied to a job and had no opportunity to really go be an entrepreneur or start your own firm.

David: 00:19:29 Um, or do all of those fun things that I think some of us are enjoying now, but I think you can still make sure that it's still an important benefit because it is so expensive and especially for someone who's maybe the lower on the income scale or just starting in the industry or newer to the industry, having good insurance and having insurance that's inclusive because it can have a spouse or family is going to be very important. But at least now that we have marriage equality, uh, it does make it a little easier to not discriminate against someone because it's spouse spousal coverage is much easier to obtain than who is this person that's not technically legally related to you in any way other than you're saying you're married. I'm air quoting here, pre gay marriage or really a same sex marriage being legal. It was a much bigger gap to cover a spouse or a significant other than it is now with legally recognized marriage. I think most insurance companies are on board with it as far as I know, um, if you're legally married or legally married, which is good.

Rianka: 00:20:28 Another benefit. So health insurance is huge and um, I know just through previous conversations mentioning time off from a volunteer perspective, having charitable time off volunteer time off because I, yes, the LGBTQ community is heavily politically focused and need time off to advocate.

Brian: 00:20:52 Yeah, we have to be, there's still a lot going on politically that we need to be aware of and be cognizant of and keep fighting for. Um, and I love one of the other 40 is that I was with um, in my class, the 2018 class her firm contributes five percent of their budget towards charity and I thought that was amazing and her goal is to make sure that all firms do that and being able to use your money and your time. They pay for people. They partner with an Indian charity in India and they bring opportunities to rural communities. So at the beginning of the process, every year they go and take their staff and the families to India to see and serve the communities that they're in and those types of things I think go above and beyond what normal firms do and really set them apart as far as a place that really cares about serving and really cares about making sure that you're using your time, your talent, and your treasure to make a difference in the world.

Rianka: 00:21:52 Those are really great examples. So, so far I've heard from a health insurance perspective, just having that inclusive language, um, of not just saying husband, wife, but saying partner or significant other, making sure that, you know, there's some sort of benefits that cover if possible. I know small RIA firms, health insurance is just expensive period. Um, but if possible, just identifying a certain insurance companies that have more inclusive language and inclusive coverage, I think it's a little bit easier for these large institutions and organizations to have a vast spread of insurance options or health insurance options. So I'm very cognizant of that. And then also from an employee benefits perspective, just having paid time off, not time off, paid time off for volunteer efforts and charitable time. I love the fact that one of the 40s, as you mentioned, Brian, their firm gives five percent of their budget. I don't know if that's profit revenue, whatever, but there's five percent going to a charity of choice, which I think is a phenomenal way of giving back.

Brian: 00:23:06 Really amazing.

Rianka: 00:23:08 There is a talent shortage as we know with just financial planners, certified financial planners in the financial service industry, specifically within the financial planning profession. There's a shortage of young talent coming in. There's a shortage of people of color. And I know there is a shortage of LGBTQ advisors.

David: 00:23:30 I wish we had a statistic because I mean, it's terrible to see the statistics of how few women are in the, in the CFP ranks, how many people of color are in the CFP ranks. But I don't think they ask sexual orientation. And I think we would be underrepresented heavily

David: 00:23:46 as well. Um, especially if you were to maybe make a little asterisk on that and people that are out,out CFPs, is, uh, as they're probably even smaller group than just gay CFPs in general because I think kind of a slight difference here because I can still take a photo and be still a, you know, old white man. If for those watching I'm the white one in the group here, blonde hair, blue eyes and I could theoretically hide being LGBT but I can't, you know, I still get the privileges of being white and I get a lot of the privileges I've capitalize it and I'll call them privileges of being gay. A gay male has really been a major part of my success. Beyond, you know, some of my colleagues who had the same training and the same tools and the same firm all the other same same pieces going on. But I think the thing that made me stand out and why I've been where I've been able to do what I've done is because I was out and about.

Brian: 00:24:44 And I think the important part about what you're saying is like, just being yourself. It doesn't matter how gay you are or how not gay you are, right? I mean you're, you're being your authentic self and having that shine through and that's the real benefit of what I think what we're doing is we're being ourselves. We're being out. Um, it's so important to have people that you can see in the industry and I think that will help bring into your original question like what do we do about this talent shortage? And David brought up a huge point which I think is often overlooked, that we do have stats on black CFPs or Latino CFPs or Asian CFPs, but there are no stats on LGBTQ CFPs. How many are out there? What the dearth of the industry actually is. A reason that I know David because he was one of the only gay CFPs that I, I knew of.

Brian: 00:25:33 So I wanted to get to know him and figure out how he was doing things in this industry. And he's been such a huge help. Just talking and bouncing back ideas or being supportive and saying, Hey, great job on getting on the cover of investment news or great job on your award. Like being able to just text and support each other in that way has been a huge help and we need to do that. And I think if we go back to the allyship theme here, it doesn't just take another gay CFP in order to do that. There are people that are also in this industry that can help support and lift up other people that are doing things that are different, that are taking a risk and saying, I know it's not easy to be a black gay CFP. I want to be here to support you. Um, and being able to lift all of us up. Um, so we do help feel comfortable and keep people in this industry and then show other people who are coming next that it's okay. You can succeed in this industry. You can be supported in this industry. This is a place that you can really thrive if you want to live the life that you want.

Rianka: 00:26:32 One hundred percent agree with you. Community is something that, um, is really important. And um, I've shared my experience about my first Quad A conference, you know, numerous of times because it was real, it was the first conference I had an opportunity to walk into why I saw everyone who had some hue some melanin on, on their skin, right. And I was just like, wow, I can finally be myself. I don't mind wearing my hair curly instead of straight, which is been deemed the, you know, the professional standard of straight hair is professional and curly is unprofessional or as a client has told me in the past, very casual, um, so

David: 00:27:22 The gays over here like your curly hair.

Rianka: 00:27:26 Well, thank you David. So, um, so yeah, I understand. And I was able to be in a space where I wasn't afraid to ask questions or make a comment and was felt like I was being judged. So are there conferences out there or do we need to create one where it's a festival of sorts where it's a celebration of the LGBTQ advisors and planners out there, but also a learning opportunity for the allies to also come and just learn about how we can support the planners that advisors, um, but also clients and being a better informed advisor so we can be a better advisor to our clients.

Brian: 00:28:15 I don't know of any LGBTQ financial planning conferences. That would be amazing.

Rianka: 00:28:20 It will probably have an epic party. I already know.

Brian: 00:28:26 I do enjoy the XYPN conference, I feel like we are doing a lot of things there or I say we because I'm a part of XYPN. But um, as far as bringing diversity to the forefront, we had Audra Bohannon who gave the keynote and also gave her pre-con on diversity. Um, we have diversity breakout sessions every day. Where we talk about being different and doing things as far as like the diversity committee, making sure that you're understanding how to serve and deal with people who are not like you. I think XYPN is doing an amazing job with with that and making sure that that is a safe space. People will see this and say, yeah, we can come here and learn and do different things. I would again, I would love. I sort of had a different experience at the Quad A. I really loved Quad A.

Brian: 00:29:14 I love going to the Quad A conference and seeing people of color. But for me as I've already mentioned this before, like there's always an underlying homophobia thing for me going to the conference and seeing other people and still having to worry about what are they going to do when they find out who I serve, how are they going to react?

Rianka: 00:29:35 Interesting

Brian: 00:29:35 I guess, so there are two good things about the Quad A conference that I now realizing as I'm talking about this, the. They gave a panel on an estate planning panel from one of the prominent LGBT estate planning attorneys in Chicago. So that was also one of the things that I was like, oh, okay, this may be a safer space than I thought. Um, and then hearing LeCount Davis speak just about being out and not being, like, just being out as a person of color, but he was the first black CFP and saying if you're the first, it doesn't, it doesn't matter if you're the first, if you don't bring people with you. And those two things from the conference resonated with me about what role I need to play in this and what the role that I want to play. I want to make sure that I'm, even if I am the first out black CFP, which I'm not, bringing people with me and making sure that I'm creating a safe space for other people look to follow.

Rianka: 00:30:28 So, but you may be the first black CFP out at the Quad A conference.

Brian: 00:30:34 Maybe I did not meet anybody. Oh. And so I guess that's the other great thing I did my mentor is also a black gay CFP

Rianka: 00:30:47 Well look there

David: 00:30:47 Found one.

Brian: 00:30:50 But uh, yeah. And, and that's been super important and super helpful in my career as far as being able to go to somebody and feel safe and feel like there's someone who's done this before. It's been so important to me.

Rianka: 00:31:02 That's good feedback. Brian, you know, I have been on the conference planning committee for Quad A, for a few years and that, that's just some really good feedback and we take for granted the fact that it's all people of color so we don't, we assume we don't need to talk about diversity because we always feel like we're preaching to the choir, like everyone sitting in the room knows we need more diverse professionals. Um, and as we know, diversity has many facets, but the one that Quad A focus on is race, um, so, but it's, it's good feedback in a sense that we can't brush over the fact that even within our own community there are layers of diversity that we need to be an ally and support. So I truly appreciate you sharing that Brian

Brian: 00:31:54 Of course. It's my pleasure.

Rianka: 00:31:55 It's a learning opportunity for all of us. Um, so yeah, and, and XYPN is doing an awesome job as far as just being on the forefront of diversity. They have a diversity series. And Brian, you probably know much more about this because you are the president of the diversity committee within XYPN, so I won't steal your thunder there. Um, but I will share that. I will add to the show notes, the link to the site that has all the webinars and what I do really appreciate about the XY Planning Network is that they are having these webinars open to the public. So even if you are not a member of the XY Planning Network, you can still be a part of the conversation. So Brian, tell us a little bit more about that.

Brian: 00:32:46 Yeah, the diversity committee was inspired obviously at the top with Ellen and Michael, but just trying to make sure that this industry and what we're trying to do at XYPN is inclusive and diverse. And so they said, we want to do this. And a group of us got together and said, all right, well we'll lead the charge and figure out how this is gonna work and what we're going to try to do. And it's just been an amazing experience. I was elected president and wanted to do what I could to make sure that I'm getting our view out there and our name out there, so a part of the quarterly webinars, we also do blog posts. I've written all the blog posts and there are several things within XYPN that we do, we have mentorships, affinity groups, just trying to make sure that people who are trying to come into the industry see other people doing really great things and realize that they can do it too. Um, and then giving the opportunity abroad for people to learn about how diversity works and how inclusion works. And we've given a presentation on allyship and talking about conversations. Yeah. With Andrew, Andrew was also on your podcast, which I love.

Rianka: 00:33:57 Yes, he was. So thank you all for exposing me to him because he kicked off 2050 trailblazers season two, if you haven't had a chance to listen to the episode, I would also include that in the show notes.

Brian: 00:34:09 Another amazing one and talking about allyship and how it is a verb when we have an amazing speaker coming up in January. That I'm super excited about, Rianka is going to be with us for our January quarterly conversation. So, um, yeah, I mean we're really just trying to do what we can to move the needle forward and I'm so appreciative of XYPN and the XYPN diversity committee, all of us working together to try to, to make sure that we keep the conversation going and be really tackle this problem head on because it's such an important issue for us. And there's such a big gap to cover that it's going to take all of us working together to cover it.

David: 00:34:50 And I think it really is a community thing because I know especially for a lot of the smaller firms, if you have five or 10 employees and to become diverse is not going to happen over night. And you know, if you are taking on an LGBT employee or a person of color and you're all white, even if you're all old white men, nothing wrong with that. But just the community may be able to really help clue you in on ways to act. Ways to be more inclusive. Ways to make them feel more comfortable and increase their odds of success, which they may not be able to see really internally at your firm because there's definitely firms out there with 100 or 200 employees that really aren't diverse beyond when I. I joke, but I, whenever I would go to like a broker dealer conference, there is kind of an assumption of anyone of color or anyone that was a female was an assistant and I over and over again and like, Oh, where's your boss? And every time it was like, I have my own firm, I'm this person, I'm successful. But there's unfortunately an assumption quite often that at least at in a financial conference of sorts that, you know, you're lesser than, which is not the case in many, many situations, but it will take work to move the needle

Brian: 00:36:02 It's so sad that that is the assumption or that that is the experience and still today, you know, if you like, it wouldn't be. It's 2018. You feel like we would be over that, but we're not.

Rianka: 00:36:11 That's true, Brian And it is 2018 and I know the answer to this question, but I feel like some people are actually asking it, so I want to ask you both so that we can really dig into this. Does LGBTQ financial planning still matter?

Brian: 00:36:30 Well, no, actually it doesn't. It's all, no I'm just kidding. I gave a Webinar on this on Monday. So yeah, it's. It's still a huge thing that matters a lot. I know that people talk about marriage equality and how that made everything better, but it's not the end all be all the fight for marriage equality has been going on for decades and there's still a lot of pending legislation. The current administration is not the most friendly towards LGBTQ, the, the LGBTQ community and with things coming down the pipe, both legislation and court wise, there's still a long way to go. Even if there weren't things with marriage equality we're just a different group of people, our financial experience is different. Prudential has a great study. The 2016, 2017 LGBTQ financial experience study that talks about how different we are and how some of US consider ourselves more spenders than the general population.

Brian: 00:37:25 Or we're less likely to have insurance products or estate planning products or have started saving for retirement. There are things that are specific to the LGBTQ community that we still need to focus on and worry about and help bridge the gap between us and the general population. So it absolutely does exist and we already talked about the dearth of LGBTQ financial planners. So in order to cut that gap or to cover that gap, we need to make sure that there are people who are, other than LGBTQ planners, helping the LGBTQ community

David: 00:37:55 and I 100 percent think there's still need for LGBTQ specific financial planning. I think I've had clients come to me after being turned away from other advisors and this is happening in California, so we'll just run with the stereotype that we're all liberals here, but it's not always the case. Unfortunately, literally a a male gay couple was turned away from an advisor. What they'd set the appointment. I think whoever set the appointment didn't catch on that it was two men coming in and the advisor wouldn't see them.

Rianka: 00:38:24 No

Brian: 00:38:24 Wow

David: 00:38:24 And this was just in last year

David: 00:38:27 So you know how much. How stressful is it to go sit down with a financial planner? It is as it is to bare your soul about all your finances and then to have them turn you away to add that stress to that mix is just just terrible and then when you really go into actual financial planning, there are differences when you're running scenarios of retirement and running out of money and all of these things for two women versus two men or versus a male and a female. There's just different life expectancies, different issues that come up with that. If you really want to get technical and then I think really a big thing for me is also looking at like long-term care or aging. If you are single or if you don't have children and those aren't necessarily specific to the gay community, but I think you're going to have a lot more long-term couples that don't have children as as a group in the community.

David: 00:39:15 Then you wouldn't perhaps in the heterosexual community. So there there are definitely differences and then there's just stuff that you might feel more comfortable discussing. Your, your spending and different different areas. Or do you want to travel and what you want to do on the charities and the things that you support with maybe someone who gets it or understands or knows what you're talking about when you say GLAD or Gay and Lesbian Center or you know, an HIV charity or a million other charities that are more skewed towards the lgbt community. It's just a little bit different and it's just a little bit more comfortable and there's definitely things that I know clients say to me that they probably wouldn't want to go say to some other advisor.

Brian: 00:39:52 Right. And I think it's really what you're saying about being able to be open. I can't imagine what that couple felt when they were rejected and even if the. Even if they were accepted or interviewed, how comfortable they would have felt with an advisor that didn't want to really talk about the relationship or would overlook the relationship or wouldn't be curious about the relationship. Those types of things. Especially for trying to plan in our client's best interest. We need to know a lot about them and we need to be a space where they can talk about their entire life and like David was saying, not be afraid to talk about spending in certain places or going going to certain charities or certain events. You have to be able to be open and honest about your entire life and you're not going to do that with somebody who's intolerant of you or somebody who just wants to have your business and doesn't really want to know about you.

Rianka: 00:40:42 Wow, that's a powerful statement right there. Brian, as, as we know there's not a lot of LGBTQ planners. Um, and so yes, there is. There will have to be a support for um, or from the rest of the financial planning community. Um, and so yes, there are clients who are going to reach out to you two because you are gay because you are gay men. And so how can we, I don't know, just show it. I mean, if, if we do have a gay couple that comes to us and to be like, listen, I'm, I want to know more about you. So it's more of a curiosity because I want to be a better planner for you versus curiosity because you're taking this as being questioned, like there's a fine line I feel like, and especially like you asking a question, David or Brian may not come off as offensive because you two are gay versus me who may ask a question is, well, why is she asking me that?

Rianka: 00:41:46 You know, like, so again, that's that me being vulnerable right now of just being like, I know there are clients who reach out to me specifically because I am a woman of color and they don't have to explain some of their line items on their budget or you know, some of the cultural nuances. So I think from the same coin, you know, or you know, just flip the coin and let's talk about the gay community. How can we as planners be a great advisor to these clients? And with them just knowing that we're just trying to help

Brian: 00:42:21 such a great question. And, and to me it starts from intention to what we've talked about in the beginning. Like being open, being vulnerable and saying I'm just want to be curious. And I learned a while ago that it's about how you ask the questions. Um, so instead of asking a question or asking a question in general, making a statement saying I'd love to hear more about your relationship or tell me about that time you got married. Tell me about your wedding or I'm, I'm curious to hear more about your lifestyle and how, what your experience has been as an LGBTQ couple and with financial planning, being curious but curious in a way that isn't, I guess aggressive or you feel like you're really interviewing them or grilling them about their life. But just being curious and asking things in a way that um, is, allows them to talk about their life and about their experience without you just like digging in question after question after question. If that makes sense.

David: 00:43:24 I think Brian is spot on. There is, there's definitely areas that you're just putting their, their relationship on equal footing with any other relationship. Like how'd you guys meet and tell me about your wedding just happened or came up. Tell me about your wedding or where'd you guys get married or where'd you go on your honeymoon? There's a lot of questions that are very not, like he said, not aggressive that are very open ended and give them a chance to talk and if they didn't want to talk about it, hey, you know, you've, you've kind of at least let them know that you're okay with everything and that they're in a safe space and can talk about it. And some people are like, Oh, our wedding was nice. Some people, every detail. So be careful. Um, I have a stereotype again some gay couples might tell you every single detail and you'll be in that meeting for the rest of your life.

David: 00:44:05 If they really just got married, the flower arrangements and the outfit and the centerpieces and all that stuff. But, uh, all kidding aside, you're just, you're just sending the message that you're cool. They are going to be cool and they can tell you things really set the tone in a good positive light.

Brian: 00:44:25 They can, they can tell you things and you're open to hearing your. You want to hear about them planning from appreciation and appreciating that they are different as a couple or as an individual and that you want to hear more. You want to learn comes from a place of intention.

Rianka: 00:44:40 I love that planning from a place of appreciation.

Brian: 00:44:44 It makes such a big difference,

Rianka: 00:44:45 man. Brian, you have a sound like Oprah up here. All these Tweet-able moments. You know how Oprah, That's Tweet-able. She'll just be like, oh, or what did she say? That's a Tweet-able moment.

David: 00:45:01 God I love her so much

Rianka: 00:45:01 Who doesn't love Oprah.

Brian: 00:45:04 You were talking about the book launch. They both Oprah and Michelle Obama were here yesterday with their book launch.

Rianka: 00:45:10 Ah,

Brian: 00:45:12 book launch and they did a, an event in the United Center. I wish I could have gone, but I didn't, I had a board meeting, but it sounded amazing. Amazing.

David: 00:45:21 She's amazing.

Rianka: 00:45:22 Well, David, I saw your picture on, on Twitter and I was going to cancel on you today because I'm hating a little, yes, David has met our favorite first lady, Michelle Obama, and I will put that in the show notes too, so you guys can see David with Auntie Michelle. How did that happen? How did that meeting happen?

David: 00:45:52 I was lucky enough to be invited to the White House for an LGBT pride reception a few years back. Um, I do a lot of fundraising and charity work and raised quite a bit of money over the years for LGBT charities and somehow I was lucky enough to get on the list for the Obama Pride reception and you get to go to the White House. I was clued in a little ahead of where to stand if you want to get a photo with Michelle, I had to staked myself out, I only got to see my, my photo with Barack was just him in the background. So I've got like a stock photo bombing, but for, you know, obviously you'll see at the show notes of her and I and having a great time. She, she chatted me up and she put her arm around. It was amazing. Everything, everything you could expect. She's amazing and so grace such grace and such a bright light in the room.

Rianka: 00:46:47 So I'm like, make sure I give you a hug next time I see David and it'll rub off. This goes to the point of also what you were sharing about just being very prideful and that's no pun intended, but being, being very prideful in your, um, in who you are and your authentic self and you mentioned that you volunteer a lot of your time for some charities. What are some charities that we should know about?

David: 00:47:14 The biggest thing that I've done the most time with is the AIDS Lifecycle, which is a bike ride from San Francisco to LA. I've done that seven times and that raises money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and I've done stuff with Prop-8 which was the marriage initiative here in California and marriage equality in a, in a variety of other gay charities, but the AIDS Lifecycle has been the probably the most visible and the most ongoing for me. And it's riding your bike 550 miles in a week. It's a lot of fun. And being gay there's a little vanity with it. It does help keep you in shape and let you eat more pizza and donuts. It does really good effect because the center in San Francisco and LA really do a lot beyond those cities who really lead the charge for gay rights and lead the charge for fighting HIV and treating HIV.

Rianka: 00:48:06 That is awesome. If you can send me that link. I'd love to share that in the show notes for anybody who's on the west coast and if there are any other charities or volunteer organizations that we should know about. Um, as far as just general population, um, that we can show our support of being an ally. Um, let me know. I will. I would love to use this platform to share it.

Brian: 00:48:32 Human Rights Campaign is another good one. GLAAD. G L A A D. There are two actually two GLADs, G L A A D, which is a national organization. And then there's also GLAD, which is in Massachusetts. They were the people that did the first, the first case of marriage equality that won the first case for marriage equality in Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to intern there when I was my first year lawyer or first year law student. And they also do amazing things there. There are plenty of organizations that are really putting themselves out there and have been at the forefront of this fight for decades and so we need to support them. And I love the fact that you're, you're willing and able to say, I want to be an ally. I want to prop these people up so other people can learn about them. That's really the important part about this.

Brian: 00:49:18 One of my favorite parts of the episode yesterday was when I heard Sonya talk about the fact that she was more open to hear the message when it came from a person that looked like her. And I was. I just thought that was amazing. You hear Arlene go wow. In that moment, you just, you realize that's a lot of what happens if, if it's, if it's me or David saying this to the LGBTQ community, um, that's one thing. But if it's, you know, white men saying this and saying it's important to maybe other white men will be more apt to listen to that.

Rianka: 00:49:56 Yeah.

David: 00:49:56 It's about setting the tone. And I think, uh, I know some of the opportunities I was able to have at my prior firms, they're the tone was set by the management and you know, they were, I'll say my, the person who ran my office was, was an ally, but he was listening to Rush Limbaugh every morning and you know, he loved his Fox News and you know, but he was still an ally at, you know, on paper, if you check those two boxes, I'd be like running the other direction. Most likely, nope, no offense to Rush Limbaugh listeners, but it's not exactly know pro non white men, trying to say it as nicely as possible, trying to be an ally to Rush Limbaugh listeners as well to improve their practices. But the tone was set that, you know, everybody's welcome. Everyone has an opportunity to be successful within the firm. And there were definitely people whose niche was a very specific, their specific religion or their very specific group along the way. And that's great. And I have the same, the same thing with being LGBT.

David: 00:51:01 It's kind of the choice that I've made where I want it to focus and they want it to focus there. And it's great that we all could coexist and it didn't have to be a contentious thing, but it really could be a contentious thing. So just being open and an ally is really, really helpful there.

Brian: 00:51:15 And like I said before, it really takes all of us, right? We all need to do our part, we all have a part to play in helping to build a bigger table to make sure that people feel included and, and that this industry, the industry that we all love and we all have benefited from is really making its mark and leaving a legacy of inclusion and diversity and being able to push beyond where other industries or professions may have gone.

Rianka: 00:51:42 I think the financial service industry specifically the financial planning profession is going to get there faster. And it's because of people like you and we just have awesome, awesome people in this profession who is willing to listen and be true allies and actually walk the walk and not just talk it. I'm being very mindful of time, you know, I love, I mean, I can talk to my guests forever.

David: 00:52:15 It goes so fast

Rianka: 00:52:15 I know. So, um, but there's a couple things and, and you mentioned this, Brian, as far as just like something that Sonya mentioned as far as just like hearing it from someone who looks like you or have the same values as you, you may receive it over someone who does not look like you or someone who has different values and in the spirit of Michelle Obama and her book of becoming and just sharing our stories. I would love if you to share yours as far as, um, something that you, you mentioned in one of our previous conversations, Brian, is that when you first came out you thought you had to be a certain type of gay and I would love for you to share your story in a sense of helping others who feel like they have to be a certain way when they can just be their self.

Brian: 00:53:07 Yeah. I feel like that's been one of my biggest struggles is learning how to be myself and learning how to be my authentic self and figuring out who that person is. Um, but to me it's an ever evolving process. I'm never gonna, I'm still learning, it's still growing and one of my core values is growth. Um, and it took me awhile to, I was an athlete in high school so I knew it wasn't cool to be gay. And then I also, I was born in a family that had a little bit of money, so I also didn't, I lived in a very white community, so I always felt like I've been an outsider and I've always felt like I've never really fit in and learning how to navigate that has been a huge issue for me until I realized like, I'm not going to please everybody, like I'm not going to be the perfect person so I can just be myself and some people will like me, some people won't. And that's okay. And then learning what myself was, you come out, you feel like everything's going to be better because you're out and then you realize, oh, well, um, what does being out mean?

Brian: 00:54:13 Who Do I want to date? Which kind of types of things do I want to do? What do I want? How do I want to dress? There's so many images and stereotypes that we see and that we hear about who we should be rather than actually looking internally and seeing who we are. And so to me it's taken a lot of self work and self analysis. To me, the process always starts with myself to make sure that I'm in tune with who I am, who I want to be, and then being able to show that to the outside community and have me the person that I am and the person that I'm doing be okay and it's, I've seen the benefits of that. David had mentioned before, like just me being out and black and those types of things and being different in that way and being proud of that.

Brian: 00:55:00 I just recently got the Inspiring Leader Award from NAPFA. Then I made that in my speech. Like I never thought being myself and actually taking the risk of being myself would pay off as much as it has, but it has and I never would have thought that before. And if I could go back and tell myself to start earlier, you know, just be yourself and have the people gravitate towards you who really love you and really support you and you'll find that there are all sorts of people that do love and support you no matter who you are, what you do, those types of things. So it's been a long journey for me, but I've really been grateful and appreciative of the process and appreciate the privilege that I have now of this is also a reference to the podcast yesterday. Like so what am I doing with the abundance of privilege that I have of getting awards or being on the cover of Investment News and those types of things.

Brian: 00:55:50 What am I doing to help other people and keep the door open. That's my real motivation now is why do things like this? Because I want to keep the conversation going, I want people to know that it's okay to be in this industry and that you have a place in this industry. Keep us all moving forward.

Rianka: 00:56:04 Thank you, Brian. And David, what about you?

David: 00:56:08 Yeah, I think it's been a growing experience for me as well. I think when I was younger, when I was first starting out, I just really was. I don't wanna say a little. I was kind of obnoxious about being gay. I was just like a little bit more in your face and I was like I was the gay financial planner versus a financial planner who is gay and I think it may seem stupid, but it's just a small difference of like I'm going to throw it out there. I might be like, that's the first thing I'm going to say is I'm gay, I'm gay, I'm gay. Versus just kind of exuding it and being a great financial planner who's been doing this a long time, who happens to be gay and you know, definitely I work with a lot of LGBT clients, but just kind of being a top notch financial planner. I've attracted a lot of minority people who just aren't finding the right planner for them as well. I was surprised when I went through my client base of how many people are considered a minority or how many single women I have or how many people of color or international clients, you know. It just was very surprising for me when I kind of went through, Oh, I've collected this really great client base and how many people I think are attracted to me partially because of being gay and being true to who I am, but it, it's just because their may be not able to find someone who looks like them or sounds like them and they know that I maybe didn't fit in being gay along the way.

David: 00:57:22 Like Brian mentioned as well. And they're just like, we don't fit in to this other stereotypical of financial planning process. So let's find someone who can help us. And it's just. It's really been a major part of my success is kind of being true to who I am. And I think it's. I don't feel as insecure about being being gay or not fitting in anymore. I think times have changed in the last 15 years for the community and I think at least there's a lot more of us that have the opportunity to be out and I think the opportunities be yourself and to be unique and also to have a niche or niche, no matter how specific you want it to be, if you're building your own practice versus maybe trying to build a huge firm, you really should have, you know, a specific group that you want to work with or target and put out who you are. And if people don't like it, you'll be fine. There's enough people to work with. You don't need someone who isn't going to really appreciate what you're giving and what you're doing.

Brian: 00:58:14 I want to highlight something that David said about being a financial planner who happens to be gay like you can be. And I've heard you talk about this Rianka on the podcast before, like you didn't want to be pigeonholed as the diversity financial planner, the, the African American woman financial planner. You can be the LGBT financial planner and still be an amazing financial planner. Those things can coexist. Um, and being able to know that we actually do good work beyond just talking about diversity or being diverse. We're actually good planners. People come to us and their lives improved because of what we do with them and that type of relationship that we have with them. I thought that was such an important point. David, thanks for bringing it up.

David: 00:58:54 My pleasure. Thanks for liking it.

Rianka: 00:58:59 Is there anything else you want to leave us with before I let you two go? I really don't want this conversation to end, but I'm being mindful. Um, so yeah. Is there, is there anything else in the spirit of authenticity, allyship? Um, you know, just bringing light to the LGBTQ that you want to share with us?

David: 00:59:23 I just want to thank everyone who's listening and making an effort to be an ally and doing allyship. That's a great sentence there, but I just want to thank everyone for listening. I think every little step in the right direction is going to be great for the financial planning community as a whole and it's going to be great for more diversity in the. Even if you're just making an effort in one area to try and maybe hire more women or people of color or LGBT, it's going to help the whole community as a, as a group, because the more diversity we have in the community, the more we're going to have more diversity just because people see other people that aren't the average stereotypical financial advisor, financial planner. Um, and again, that's probably a late 50 something, a white man and for good or bad.

David: 01:00:10 And then I also think from a diversity standpoint, it also helps more people go out and actually get financial planning advice because I know who I'm attracting. And a lot of those people are expecting to see someone that looks like their parent who's, you know, an old person in a suit with nothing wrong with that. But you know, there may be a person of color or just not 60 years old. They want to try and talk to someone closer to their age who maybe gets it. And it's not like, Ooh, there's financial planning is different for a 30 year old versus a 40 year old. You know, there's not a young person IRA or an old person IRA, but they're just different conversations and different challenges in different places in your life that we can maybe relate to a little better and having more diversity of ages, of sexual orientation, of colors, ethnicities, all of that fun stuff just makes it more easy and approachable for someone to reach out and get the financial planning advice that we know they all need desperately.

Brian: 01:01:04 Yeah, agreed. I mean, I feel like I'm also coming from a place of gratitude, thankful that people are listening to this and people are having these conversations. Thank you for creating a podcast and a platform that helps people talk about this because that's what needs to happen. We need to continue to have these conversations. We need to face these issues, make sure that we're aware of our realities except what that is, and then take the action that we need to, to make a change. And I am so appreciative of the opportunities to do it and myself, both on this platform and XYPN and all of those things. And I appreciate both you. Uh, David and Rianka for helping move the conversation up, moving the needle. I think it's such a great thing to be a part of this conversation and I hope it continues. I can't wait to keep. Continue to talk to both of you more.

Rianka: 01:01:50 Yeah,

David: 01:01:51 Absolutely.

Rianka: 01:01:51 Absolutely. Well, this is just the first of I'm sure many conversations that we're going to have around the LGBTQ community and if there's any other resources that you want to share, please send them my way so I can share it on the platform. So thank you two so much. Thank you for your time, your wisdom that you shared with us and for just being your authentic self. I loved it. Thank you so much.