The same-sex marriage verdict this week came in with an overwhelming 61.6 per cent of Australian respondents voting “yes” to same-sex marriage.
Noting that this is “a historic moment for Australia”, general manager of St George Bank Ross Miller said there is still a [long] way to go until financial equality for LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex community) people.
Further, he highlighted that two-thirds of Australians think LGBTQI people have an “uneven playing field when it comes to financial fairness and wellbeing”.
Referring to the newly released St George research into LGBTQI financial wellbeing, Mr Miller said: “I’m concerned that, at its heart, the report identifies a strong perception among Australians that there’s an uneven playing field when it comes to financial fairness and wellbeing for LGBTQI Australians.
“It was confronting that the study found 90 per cent of transgender Australians feel particularly vulnerable and worried about providing for themselves and their family, and also perceive they may be discriminated against when dealing with a financial institution.”
Further, three in 10 LGBTQI Australians predict they’ll have just a “modest retirement”, and, in comparison with their non-LGBTQI counterparts, this community is more likely to predict they won’t achieve a comfortable retirement.
Mr Miller explained that this could be due to the fact that 74 per cent of the LGBTQI community feel like there are “only some” communities they would feel comfortable living in.
“And when they do own a home, the average mortgage carried by an LGBTQI owner-occupier is 41 per cent higher compared to other Australians,” Mr Miller continued, observing that many are choosing to live in the city centres of Sydney and Melbourne, where property prices have increased at rapid rates in recent years.
According to the results, 30 per cent of LGBTQI Australians have faced discrimination when dealing with a financial institution, while with 56 per cent of transgender Australians have experienced discrimination from a financial institution.
As a gay man, Mr Miller said he had anecdotal experience that aligned with the report’s findings, calling it a “hard slog” to explain his family circumstances to financial planners.
“I’ve no doubt this is not a unique situation, and for some people it would have been enough for them to walk away,” he said.
“And perhaps this is the problem,” he continued. “Many in the LGBTQI are turning away from the banking system more than other Australians despite having similar, or in some cases deeper, concerns for their futures.”
Sixty-six per cent of people in the LGBTQI cohort are “more worried” about their finances than non-LGBTQI Australians and are as a whole, less likely to own property.
It doesn’t help that they are twice as likely to be single and as such have no one to share expenses, assets and savings with, he added.
“Clearly there are issues for banks to address,” he said.
“But I do have great hope. Now that we can better understand the perceptions, beliefs and needs among LGBTQI Australians, we know where we need to focus to become even more inclusive in our approach to help create a more level playing field. I hope all banks look at these results as an opportunity to address the common perceptions that banking products and services are tailored to traditional families to the exclusion of others.”
A recent report by Rice Warner found that same-sex couples are also being misled by super calculators.
Slamming superannuation calculators that are unable to produce retirement forecasts for same-sex couples, Rice Warner said the gap in life expectancy between men and women is “reason alone” to consider more inclusive calculators.
The financial consultant said: “Superannuation funds need to consider the diversity of their members by providing tools that are inclusive of the entirety of their membership rather than simply catering to the majority.”