Better financial planning for Hong Kong's LGBT community
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on October 09, 2014.
With so many different financial planning firms in the market place it is very difficult to make a choice over who you should use and why you should use them. One of the vital elements is making sure that they will really understand your personal situation.
At Infinity Financial Solutions we are determined to understand the concerns that members of the LGBT community face within the daunting world of finance. As an independent financial planning organisation it is our job to break down the jargon and confusion and to present the best possible options available.
To enable us to really understand where concerns lie we have to understand how inequality can directly affect people’s rights and personal finances. To get a better vision of this we recently held a think tank, bringing together prominent individuals within the LGBT community in Hong Kong.
There is often a misconception that members of the LGBT community are cash rich because they do not have children. In reality this is not the case. It is estimated that 70% of the community live on a salary of less than 15,000 Hong Kong dollars a month. According to government figures, a single person earning 3,600 Hong Kong dollars or less a month is living below the poverty line. For low earners, living in a world of high pressure materialism can lead to debt that often spins out of control.
Everyone has the right to financial advice to ensure they are on track, yet often those at the lower end of the earning spectrum perceive that they have no need for a financial planner. This is simply not true. Simple guidance and discipline can set people on the course to building a secure life, whatever their income level.
One obstacle to members of the LGBT community taking financial advice is that while they are often very happy to attend events and clubs that cater for them, they unfortunately feel unable to express who they are to family and work colleagues. The fear of being exposed can often put people off seeking professional guidance with their finances. Here at Infinity we are able to offer a discreet service without prejudice or judgement and we hope to break down the barriers that currently exist.
There are a number of areas within the financial arena where the LGBT community in Hong Kong face unique challenges. Historically, an individual coming out as LGBT would have to face the sad fact that they would not have children. It is with relief that this is changing around the world and same-sex couples have many options available to them now, although unfortunately not in Hong Kong. If members of the LGBT community here wish to become parents, the solutions available to them involve huge travel and legal expenses, overcoming a lot of outdated red tape and many other problems on top of the usual costs that a heterosexual couple would face when starting a family. Methodical saving is vital.
Secondly, as same-sex partnerships are not recognised in Hong Kong, the legal rights that many expats have enjoyed in their home country suddenly become void when they move here. Many people are unaware of this and the serious implications of it, not least the fact that same-sex couples cannot obtain a residential visa for a spouse. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
In addition, many expats arrive with medical and life insurance cover that they have taken out in their home country, often oblivious to the fact that these may become invalid. This is an area of huge concern.
Finally, whereas usually in the event of death a pension or life savings would be transferred to a spouse as determined in a will, this can often be overturned in Hong Kong. Despite the fact that many of their legal rights have been taken away, there are many options available for same-sex couples to ensure that the money that they have worked hard for throughout their lives actually goes to their partner or children.
Infinity is working in close conjunction with LGBT groups in Hong Kong to ensure that members of this community can access information and services to address these areas of concern, and the many others that exist. I would like to thank Betty Grisoni, Eric Herrera, Evan Steer, Bess Hepworth and Tina Arcilla for their valued input to this.
Did we miss anything?
Are you an LGBT man or woman in Hong Kong? Did we miss anything? If there is a financial issue that affects you but is not addressed above then please let me know. I want to hear your voice.
If you would like to share you thoughts and opinions, need information or advice get in touch with me at any time. You can email me here or contact me through my social media channels listed on my biography page.