DENVER—New research from the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) explores the experiences U.S. adults who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community have had with the financial services sector. The results accentuate issues this demographic has faced, which include higher instances1 of saying that discrimination and bias happened due to factors such as physical appearance and sexual orientation.
“When anyone is restricted from fully and fairly participating in the economy it prohibits them from living their best financial life. Marginalizing any group because of their identity severely impacts communities at large and is unacceptable and counterproductive. This is particularly true with financial bias and discrimination,” says Billy Hensley, Ph.D., president and CEO of NEFE. “Even in an era where a significant portion of our financial life is happening online and with limited interaction with others, discrimination, bias and assumptions still happen at a much higher rate among members of the LGBTQ+ community. This population is being pushed aside.”
NEFE recently surveyed U.S. adults who identify as LGBTQ+ community members on a broad range of issues regarding their interactions with the financial services industry and their own financial quality of life. Findings from the full report include:
- Nearly one in three (30%) say they have experienced bias, discrimination or exclusion by or from organizations or individuals within the financial services sector.
- Approximately two in five (36%) felt blocked or discouraged from engaging with financial services and products due to barriers or discrimination in how financial services are designed, marketed or offered (e.g., fee structure, application/approval requirements, etc.).
- Those who indicated that they experienced bias, discrimination or were blocked or discouraged within the financial services section were asked what personal circumstances or identity attributes led to their experience. Age (39%) and sexual orientation (35%) were the top identity attributes selected.2 Five percent indicated that none of the identity attributes in the survey led to experiencing bias, discrimination, exclusion and limited access to financial services.
- Between 12% to 17% indicate experiencing bias, discrimination or an inequitable experience in the following context: employment or career opportunities (17%), housing (16%), credit (15%), pay (15%), health care (14%), lending (12%) or banking (12%).
- Transgender respondents have dramatically different experiences in navigating the financial system. They (57%) are more likely than LGBTQ+ cisgender men (23%) and women (26%) respondents to say they have experienced discrimination and bias.
Respondents were also asked about their financial quality of life, a topic that NEFE consistently researches to identify trends and changes throughout the country:
- Roughly half (47%) of LGBTQ+ respondents say the quality of their financial life is what they expected it to be, while 39% say it is worse than they expected and 14% say it is better than expected.3
- Nearly two-thirds (60%) of respondents say they typically live paycheck to paycheck, while 38% say they do not.4
“I incredibly appreciate all the recognition and celebration that comes with Pride Month. Naturally, with its conclusion each year, I reflect on the role of organizations like NEFE to ensure that LGBTQ+ issues and challenges stay elevated beyond June,” says Hensley. “The financial education field still has significant work to do to gather sophisticated data exploring financial issues and challenges within the LGBTQ+ community,” says Hensley.
“The fact that in 2022 we still do not have the representative national data is a problem. Through a deeper understanding of how this population is being economically restrained, intermediaries like financial planners, counselors, educators and advocates can better meet the needs to support this community,” adds Hensley.
This survey was conducted May 6-17, 2022, on behalf of NEFE, using non-probability panel services from Qualtrics. The sample included 1,050 adults aged 18 and older who identify as any of the following: transgender, agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, māhū, muxe, non-binary/enby, questioning or unsure, two-spirit, asexual/aromatic, gay, lesbian, pansexual/bisexual/fluid, queer, same-gender-loving, stud. Individuals who could not find a resonating classification within the gender identity and sexual orientation survey questions also are included. The survey was weighted in cases where the sample population was statistically different from the LGBTQ+ U.S. adult population, including weights by age, income, race/ethnicity and gender identity. The percentage of respondents has been included for each item. Percentages may not always add up to 100% because of computer rounding or the acceptance of multiple responses.