Planners know the needs of same-sex couples are quite different from those of opposite-sex couples—in execution, although not in substance. Both want financial security for themselves and their loved ones; both buy homes and cars, invest, put children through college, retire, look for insurance coverage and try to provide for their loved ones after they die.
The way LGBT couples go about these things, however, can—and indeed often must—be quite different from the way opposite-sex couples do them. It behooves both planners and couples to be as savvy on their unique needs as possible.
New York Life Insurance Company has provided support to numerous LGBT organizations and earned for the second consecutive year the top rating in the Corporate Equality Index survey, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The company decided to take that support and its know-how and put them together on a microsite. In early June, it launched Customized Solutions for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community, a microsite divided into four sections and populated with information important to that target market.
According to Angela Daniels, assistant vice president and market manager, who heads the LGBT initiative for New York Life, the goal was to make the website relatable and to provide the same product information needed by mainstream clients in a site uniquely designed for the LGBT market. “Being proactive about financial planning is sound advice for every family, but doing so is especially critical for the LGBT population,” she said.
Currently, the site’s four sections are Creating a Safety Net, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning and Our Community Commitment.
Among the planned improvements, says Daniels, are video interviews with clients and information on “concepts that resonate with the market, such as charitable giving.” Currently, the most thorough section of the site is that on estate planning; the needs of the LGBT community include many factors that married couples and even common-law couples do not need to account for. Such topics as wills, cohabitation agreements and trusts are covered, as well as HIPAA authorization, powers of attorney, advanced directives, gifting and funeral planning.
The LGBT market, while substantial—according to Daniels, the 2008 census showed that it amounted to approximately 10% of the adult population—mirrors the population as a whole in its concerns about money. Daniels points out that the boomer LGBT population has the “same considerations as mainstream baby boomers, such as retirement and estate planning.” Agents are also finding long-term care insurance very much a concern for the LGBT community. Daniels explains that because the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, such couples “need the survivor-type benefits that our products offer.”
Currently, the estate planning page contains the largest quantity of specialized information. The safety net section, Daniels adds, is the basis of a financial plan. The site will be growing in the future, says Daniels, as the company adds more information important to the LGBT community. The safety net and retirement planning sections will be built out, and a new article on long-term care insurance was scheduled to go live in July.
While the company does not plan to add a blog—“Because we are in a very regulated industry, having a blog would be quite challenging,” says Daniels—it does intend to add fresh data on Facebook, as well as using tweets. Daniels adds that, because it has some community involvement, the company “will also do tweets on other websites as well, if we have a sponsorship.” The company might also do small surveys on the website.
The microsite is a work in progress, but early indications are that there is a demand for that work. According to company sources, since the official announcement of the microsite on June 3, and its launch through the company’s Facebook page, it has received more than 2,000 unique visits; currently it’s the fifth most visited of New York Life’s 10 microsites. The effort seems to be paying off.