Are Hong Kong’s LGBT couples talking about money?
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on June 09, 2015.
Financial planning for LGBT couples in Hong Kong is being harmed by a reluctance to speak about money
Research in the US suggests that less than 50% of same-sex married couples seek professional guidance regarding their financial situation, in spite of the fact that the laws and regulations governing them are constantly changing with wide-reaching financial and legal implications.
While laws in the US are difficult to keep track of because of the speed of change, at least they exist. It is important for all couples to have a sound financial plan in place but you could argue that financial planning for LGBT couples in Hong Kong, and other countries where legal rights in the financial arena are almost non-existent, is even more imperative.
And yet, if the US figures are anything to go by, financial matters are not a popular topic of conversation for many LGBT couples. One fifth say that they discuss money matters rarely or never, and 38% say that financial discussions cause tension in their relationships.
Be that as it may, it is not a reason to avoid the subject altogether. There are a number of key financial areas which need to be addressed when a couple make a long-lasting commitment such as moving in or buying a house together – it matters little whether that commitment has a piece of paper to legitimise it. Here is a brief checklist to work through with your partner.
1. Day to day budgeting
2. Debt reduction
3. Emergency fund
4. Retirement savings
5. Investment strategy
If you find these topics difficult to tackle with your partner, it can be helpful to have a third party on board to see things from a more subjective point of view. This is where a professional financial adviser can help, especially one who really understands the unique issues which LGBT couples face.
LGBT couples do not have the same inheritance rights as their straight peers and will need specialist advice on estate planning as well as tax issues and investing for retirement. Depressingly, 49% of same-sex couples interviewed in the US say they would feel uncomfortable talking to their local bank about their financial affairs. I imagine the percentage in Hong Kong would be far higher.
As a member of the LGBT community myself, I am passionate about working with this under-represented group. I understand the issues faced as I face them myself and I have a wealth of experience in financial planning for LGBT couples in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. If I can be of assistance in helping you and your partner to take a look at your financial affairs tension-free, please do get in touch.