Nila Tatum and Gloria Franz are the kind of business partners who finish each other’s sentences. Ask one a question and you’ll get a response from both. They’re often on the same page, especially when it comes to the topic of financial planning for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s an issue they believe has been largely ignored in the traditionally conservative field of financial services.
“It’s hard enough for anybody to ask for financial guidance, but as an LGBTQ+ member, it’s even harder,” Gloria says. “They feel like, ‘Well, if I go and ask for help, am I gonna get the support that I need or not?’”
It wasn’t a question Nila and Gloria wanted their clients or prospective clients to worry about.
“I think that’s very important in today’s world to make sure that that was clearly defined in our website and in our information,” Gloria began. Nila continued, “We created a video to let them know we are allies and we understand their concerns.”
Modern Family Planning
In the Franz Tatum Wealth Management marketing video, the financial advising duo directly speak to LGBTQ+ prospective clients. About 20% to 25% of their current clients are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Internally, the project was referred to as the “Ally Video” and when it was finished, they found a home for it on a dedicated landing page called “Modern Families”.
“We see a significant need (for financial planning) within the LGBTQ community where there’s always a concern of acceptance,” said Nila.
“We see a significant need (for financial planning) within the LGBTQ community where there’s always a concern of acceptance.”
— Nila Tatum, Franz Tatum Wealth Management
The page features resources like “How to Invest in LGBTQ+ Friendly Companies” and “Financial planning tips for LGBTQ+ couples.” The video that anchors the page delivers a message not often found in financial services marketing: All are welcome here.
Though their “Ally Video” message is unique, Nila and Gloria wish it wasn’t needed. “I dunno, I personally feel like this shouldn’t even be something that we need to make a stand on, but I felt like we did need to,” explained Gloria. “We needed to share with the world what our views are so that people understand who they’re working with, because not everyone is in the same place.”
Addressing Unique Needs
Over the years, Nila and Gloria have advised their clients through the evolving needs of their “modern families.” Before all couples could legally marry, planning issues were even more complex. “A lot of those went away when you legally married, because you have all the same rights as a heterosexual married couple,” said Nila. But even as rights have evolved, there are still unique issues for LGBTQ+ couples to navigate.
Some couples choose to remain unmarried, which creates a unique set of planning circumstances. The Franz Tatum team helps couples evaluate the impact of that choice and then plan for future unknowns. Tax implications are high on the list of considerations. There are tax benefits for many married couples. Retirement beneficiary designations also take on a new level of importance for couples who decide not to marry.
Estate planning can be a minefield. “Whether it’s to a divorce or someone passes away, your wishes need to be clearly defined,” said Gloria. With all couples, the best way to avoid problems is to make sure you well document your wishes in all situations.
For example, a healthcare directive and a healthcare power of attorney are crucial for all couples, and especially for unmarried couples. Your client’s natural family can tie up medical decisions at an emotional time and leave a partner without any say. Nila advises her clients to decide who they want to make those important choices about their care, to fill out the forms, and then to have a conversation with their family so they understand your client’s choice rather than it being a surprise.
“All of those things are done ahead of time because, if you wait for the hospital, at that point, if there’s hostility between the families, it may be too late,” Nila said.
Family support is the other key planning area to address, especially when it comes to adoption and surrogacy.
Where Are You Now?
As a rule, Nila and Gloria don’t ask prospective clients about experiences with past advisors. That’s why they haven’t heard many personal stories of LGBTQ+ discrimination when it comes to financial planning.
“We know that it’s out there. We’ve heard stories over the years, but we really try to take the positive viewpoint of what we’re going to do to help them in the future,” said Nila. Gloria expanded, “So, we literally just try to say, ‘Okay, wait, where are you now? And where do you wanna be?” A good reminder that personalized financial planning all comes back to the same fundamental goals, no matter who you are.
Laura Garfield is co-founder of Idea Decanter, a video marketing company that creates custom videos remotely for financial advisors. Laura’s team helped Nila and Gloria produce, record and edit the Ally Video, and help with Franz Tatum’s ongoing marketing strategy.