LGBT investors face complex legal issues and this spells opportunity for financial advisors who know how to help.

Forty-one percent of LGBT investors have plans to increase their use of independent financial planners, according to a January research report published by Spectrem Group. Meanwhile, of the LGBT investors surveyed who work with advisors, 82% are satisfied with their advisors, compared to a 73% satisfaction rate among other investors.

"We believe the advisors that utilize being knowledgeable about the unique legal challenges that [LGBT investors] face will see great loyalty from them," says Spectrem president George Walper. "If the advisor does that it demonstrates that they care and have a personalized solution."

Despite recent legal victories, 32 states still do not permit same-sex marriage, which can lead to a host of complex financial planning issues impacting legal rights and ownership of assets. As such, the vast majority of LGBT investors surveyed (65%) answered that a strong consideration when selecting an advisor is whether the advisor is familiar with the unique financial situations of same-sex couples when it comes to estate planning, trusts and wills.

Steve Branton, a senior financial planner at San Francisco-based Mosaic Financial Partners, has made honing his expertise on these matters a priority.

"Financial planners are somewhat late to the game, compared with estate and family lawyers and CPAs who have been helping LGBT couples plan around these complexities for years," says Branton, who in December 2012 was awarded the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor designation from the College of Financial Planning.

Branton estimates that 5 to 10% of his clients are now from the LGBT community and says he hopes to increase that number in the coming years through webinars, workshops and penning articles on tax and estate planning issues for same-sex couples. "We tailor the tax planning and estate planning commentary to their needs," Branton says.

Mosaic will also boost its outreach during Gay Pride Month in June with educational events about tax and property impacts for newly married couples.

Stuart Armstrong of Centinel Financial Group in Needham, Mass., also focuses on LGBT clients and has done so since starting his practice in 1986. In  recent years Armstrong has ramped up his outreach efforts by giving public presentations, contributing to consumer, trade, and academic publications, doing media interviews and serving on national boards like PridePlanners and the Financial Planning Association.

According to the study, 27% of LGBT investors said their advisor should advertise in LGBT publications.

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