Legal Marriage: A LGBTQ Investor game-changer!

Legal Marriage: A LGBTQ Investor game-changer!
Steve and Dan 40 Years Ago 1975

Steve and Dan 40 Years Ago 1975

 Hi LGBTQ Community. Welcome to my site.


My blog is about personal finance for everybody who wants to learn to manage our finances (scroll down for my bio). This post is for our community. As such, we can comfortably talk about culture and the arts, rather than money and benefits. Way back when, there weren’t any marriage or legal benefits. As we all know that has changed. First a little personal history about Dan and I.

When Dan and I met in 1975, we only dreamed that our relationship would one day become a legal union. In fact, my proposed editorial article I sent to the editor of my college newspaper about gay and lesbian marriage was flatly and categorically rejected by the editor. Gay and lesbian couples were alive and well, just not recognized in those days, and for good reason–discrimination in the workplace.

In 1984 I published my Master’s Thesis in one of the most prestigious psychological journals of the time. My study was one of the first published studies comparing gay male, lesbian and heterosexual married couples.* It drew little attention from either the academic or the LGBTQ communities. Not a surprise. It wasn’t until the 1990s when Dan and I began hearing about marriage equality in the mainstream news.

The 1966 VW which I bought used and I drove for 14 years so I could save for our first house and for retirement.

The 1966 VW which I bought used for $1,200 in 1969. I drove for 14 years so I could save for our first house and for our retirement (I sold it for $1,200 in 1983!). 

Fast forward to June of 2015. History was made when the Supreme Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage for the entire country. It took forty years for us to realize our dream. Although we were already legally married here in California during the open legal window in 2008, Dan and I still wanted everyone to have the opportunity.

Thank goodness Dan lived long enough to realize that our dream and our community’s dream of marriage equality came to fruition. As his surviving widower, I cannot tell you how smooth Dan’s IRAs, our home and other possessions transferred to my name with no strings attached. No additional taxes or property reassessments were required. That’s what legal marriage does.

Marriage is a powerful legal mechanism that works well (I have enough grief to deal with let alone having to deal with the complicated legal matters of transferring shared property and assets without legal marriage). Trusts and wills are fine. But in my recent dreadful experience, legal marriage offers the best protections against unforeseen legal complications with family and Uncle Sam.

Below are articles on which the authors share benefits that LGBTQ married couples are now entitled.

1. “50% of all LGBT employees and nearly 40% of those who are married or in a domestic partnership are not aware of ways in which last year’s marriage equality ruling affects their benefits, a Lincoln Financial Group study found:” Link.
2. “One Year Later: How Same-Sex Marriage Rights Have Changed LGBTs’ Financial Lives:” Link. 
3. “How Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Changed These 6 Areas:” Link.
4. “Being an Advisor, and Friend, to the LGBT Community:” Link.


Steve’s critique of all advisors including LGBTQ financial professionals. I introduce two rules for hiring a financial adviser or planner:

Rule number 1Never hire a “friend” to be your financial adviser. 

Rule number 2: Treat all advisers the same no matter if they are straight or LGBTQ. Of course, you want to hire an advisor who is LGBTQ friendly. 

My issue is taking the LGBTQ identification too far (referring to article #4 above). No amount of an LGBTQ adviser “identifying” with LGBTQ clients justifies high fees. The LGBTQ adviser in the article #4 above is a classic example of focusing on who he is rather than his financial competencies and fiduciary status. This adviser’s experience of growing up gay, being bullied and discriminated is, of course, tragic, but it’s beside the point. And it certainly does not equate for his high management fee of 1.0%.

If you want to hire any adviser who charges a management fee of 1.0% (commonly called an Asset Under Management fee or AUM), negotiate first. Do not pay 1.0% management fee. It’s too much money which will slowly drag down your portfolio after many years. For example, 1.0% of $100,000 portfolio is $1000 per year, plus his hourly fee and the fees of the investments. 1.0% of a million dollar portfolio is $10,000 per year fee. He did not say if he uses low-cost Vanguard, make sure your advisor uses Vanguard.

My critique also includes broker-dealers with Wells Fargo. I mention WF because this institution has done many good things for our community. In my opinion, use their checking and savings services, but not their brokers. I will never put my retirement nest egg with a Wells Fargo adviser even if he or she is LGBTQ or LGBTQ friendly. Their advisers-brokers are not fiduciaries. 

It is well known that brokers make money selling commissioned investments and trading your assets to reap more money for themselves. Brokers work for their employers (their big banks, brokerage firms such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, etc.), and not for you. 

Don’t take my word, read this New York Times article that explains why one genuine ethical broker left Goldman Sachs: Link.  

My point is that being a fiduciary adviser is vastly more important than being either a “friend” or LGBTQ. 

There are plenty of LGBTQ advisers associated with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers (NAPFA) or Garrett Planning Network. Sheryl Garrett, the founder, is a member of our community! Also, many LGBTQ advisers who are members with either NAPFA or Garrett will identify themselves on their websites.  

More information about LGBT Advisers, Wells Fargo Advisers, and securing your retirement nest egg read our Huffington Post Blog piece here

More bad news about Wells Fargo! Let me repeat, do not use Wells Fargo: September 8, 2016.

For your information, I do not have a financial adviser. I pay $2000 per year for my 7-figure Vanguard account, and I am happy with the quality of service offered by Vanguard. Clients with $50,000 or more have access to a Vanguard representative.  Check out Vanguard for details.

Women and Retirement Risk: What Should Plan Sponsors Know? A plan sponsor is usually your employer who sets up a 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plan.

*For an abstract of my Master’s Theses study of LGBTQ and heterosexuals couples, click here. Contact me if you want a copy of the entire study.

Steve and Dan’s Bio:

Stephen A. Schullo, Ph.D. (UCLA ’96) taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for 24 years and UCLA Extension, retired in 2008. The first generation Italian-American, ex-Marine, Vietnam vet wrote investment articles for United Teachers-Los Angeles’ union newspaper (circ. 40,000) for 11 years. A thrice featured volunteer retirement plan advocate, twice in the Los Angeles Times and once in U.S. News and World Report. He has recently been on the national broadcast PBS Frontline: The Retirement Gamble. He started an investor self-help group with Sandy Keaton for LAUSD colleagues and wrote 6,500 posts in three investment forums since 1997. Frequently quoted and interviewed by the media, testified at state legislative hearings, and honored by the 40,000 member Los Angeles teachers’ union for his retirement investing advocacy.

After ten years Steve still serves on LAUSD’s Investment Advisory Committee as Member-at-Large and former co-chair. The committee oversees 457(b)/403(b) plans for 55,000 former and current LAUSD employees, assets of $2.4 billion.

Dan Robertson, Ph.D. (UCLA,’78; 1941-2015), Director of the Employment and Training Center for Persons with Disabilities at California State University, Los Angeles, taught Special Education for twenty-eight years: children (Associated Clinics) and graduate students. He wrote grants, created budgets, maintained financial oversight and operated job training programs ($3.5M). Dan has twenty-five years of reflection, study and investing experience. With Steve, he was featured in the Los Angeles Times Money Makeover feature. Implemented a low-cost 403b plan at the Van Ness House, a GLBTQ recovery center located in Hollywood. Retired in 2000. Steve and Dan were married and have been together for 40 years, until Dan’s sudden and shocking death from acute monoblastic leukemia in 2015.

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