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Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Prudential Looks at LGBTQ Financial Wellness

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Both men and women in the LGBTQ community tend to earn less than the general population, but LGBTQ women are often more confident than their male counterparts that they will meet their financial goals, according to research by Prudential.

The report, which also looks at women, black Americans, Asian-Americans, Latino-Americans and caregivers, builds on Prudential’s 2018 financial wellness census, which showed a nation almost equally divided between those who are financially healthy and those who are struggling.

Prudential and Chadwick Martin Bailey conducted a survey in the fourth quarter of 2017 among 3,013 U.S. adults ages 25 to 70.

One in every 10 survey respondents — 297 in all — identified as LGBTQ, a higher proportion than some other surveys have found, according to Prudential. It said this may reflect differences in how, and in what form, the question was asked.

The Prudential survey asked separate questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, and as an online poll may have encouraged respondents to be more open that they might have been in one-on-one interviews.

Prudential noted that a 2017 Gallup poll found 4.5% of the U.S. adult population identified as LGBTQ. That poll, it said, simply asked people whether they identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and was conducted over the telephone.

Half of the LGBTQ participants in the Prudential survey reported household income below $50,000. LGBTQ women, in particular, lagged on the income front, with 40% reporting household income below $30,000, versus 35% of their male counterparts and just 24% of both non-LGBTQ men and women.

Prudential said the disparity may reflect the younger average age of LGBTQ survey participants: 38% were millennials. The same with work arrangements: LGBTQ respondents were slightly less likely to be working full time, it said. And if they were women, they were likelier to be working flexible schedules in which their hours change regularly.

The survey found that both LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ women put a high priority on keeping up with current expenses and saving enough money to last through retirement. The former, however, were more focused than other women on financing major purchases, buying a home, providing tuition for their children and reducing student loan debt.

LGBTQ men — who are less likely to be married or have children, according to Prudential — generally place less importance on financial goals than LGBTQ women or non-LGBTQ respondents. Only 17% of LGBTQ men in the sample reported having any children, versus 54% of LGBTQ women. This compared with 61% of non-LGBTQ men and 66% of non-LGBTQ women.

In contrast to survey findings with the non-LGBTQ respondents, LGBTQ women expressed more confidence than LGBTQ men that they would meet their financial goals. For example, they were more confident that they would be able to keep up with current expenses and maintain their current lifestyle in retirement.

Even in those areas where they were less confident than LGBTQ men that they would meet their financial goals, the gender confidence gap was smaller than it was with non-LGBTQ respondents. LGBTQ women were also significantly more confident in their ability to meet these goals than non-LGBTQ women.

At the same time, nearly a third of LGBTQ women said they were not sure how to evaluate their financial options, compared with a quarter of non-LGBTQ women and men and less than a fifth of non-LGBTQ men.

Meanwhile, more than 40% of LGBTQ women said they did not have a trusted financial advisor, compared with less than 30% of the other three groups. Both LGBTQ women and men were likelier than the general population to say they liked getting advice from others who know more about investing than they do.

Retirement Savings

Across the board, LGBTQ survey respondents reported owning fewer financial products than other respondents. Only 27% had an employer-sponsored retirement savings account such as a 401(k), compared with 41% of non-LGBTQ respondents. And only 21% had an IRA, versus 32% of non-LGBTQ respondents.

Not only that, only half of LGBTQ respondents had a basic banking product such as a checking, savings or money market account, or certificates of deposit. Two-thirds of the non-LGBTQ respondents owned at least one of those products.

About two-thirds of all respondents in the survey said they had access to a workplace retirement savings plan. Of those who did not, 62% of LGBTQ respondents said they were not currently saving for retirement in any way, compared with only 49% of non-LGBTQ respondents.

The net result, Prudential said, was that 55% of LGBTQ respondents had saved nothing for retirement, compared with 42% of non-LGBTQ respondents. However, those who said they had saved for retirement reported having only slightly less in their accounts than their non-LGBTQ counterparts: $126,000, on average, versus $158,000.

Prudential, citing other research, noted that members of the LGBTQ community face some unique obstacles to financial success. Besides the near stagnant growth in middle-class incomes over the past five years, LGBTQ respondents also must contend with a lack of universal protection against job discrimination, unequal access to benefits for same-sex partners and even lack of family support.

Thirteen percent of LGBTQ survey respondents said wage inequality due to discrimination was a barrier to their financial success, compared with 8% of non-LGBTQ respondents.


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