LGBT Households Segment Summary June 2015
Source: 2014–15 MacroMonitor
The LGBT community continues to attract media attention. For example, TV (ABC) journalist Diane Sawyer's 20/20 interview on 24 April 2015 with Olympic champion Bruce Jenner about his transition from man to woman scored the highest Friday–night ratings (excluding sports) since 2003. With the hearing of the case for gay marriage by the Supreme Court in the last week of April 2015, serious media—such as the New York Times—are speculating about how the court will rule. Despite the media coverage, very little reliable, projectable data about the LGBTQ community are available. For organizations interested in understanding the financial needs of the LGBT community better, the 2014–15 MacroMonitor reports on LGBT-headed households; this summary is a snapshot of LGBT households in comparison with heterosexual households.
The Huffington Post believes that a misconception—a cultural myth—persists that LGBT individuals and households are wealthier than average. The facts:
- Two-thirds of LGBT households—in comparison with fewer than one-half of straight households—have incomes of less than $50K annually; one-half of lesbian-headed households earn less than $30K. Only 9% of LGBT households, in comparison with 15% of straight households, earn $125K or more; only gay households have roughly the same incidence of earning as much as straight households do (13% and 15%, respectively).
- Two-thirds of LGBT-headed households are Millennials or Gen Xers, in comparison with one-half of heterosexual-headed households. The mean age for LGBT household heads is 45; the mean age for straight households is 52. Gay heads are the oldest (mean age 47); bisexual-headed households are the youngest (mean age 42).
- More than one-quarter of LGBT heads have a four-year college degree—more than one-third of gay and lesbian household heads do so—versus one-fifth of straight household heads. LGBT heads are average for having a postgraduate degree. Despite media representation, only one in five LGBT households support dependent children. However, they are more likely than straight households to support a dependent adult. Bisexual- and lesbian-headed households are the most likely to do so; these same two subpopulations are also more likely to have adult children who have returned home.
- LGBT home ownership is about one-half that for straight households (38% versus 66%). Conversely, LGBT-headed households are roughly twice as likely as straight households to rent an apartment (41% versus 19%). LGBT households—gay households in particular—are almost twice as likely as straight households to live in a large city.
More than two in five LGBT households require financial assistance or are struggling to make ends meet—more than twice as many as straight households; bisexual-headed households are most at risk.
- LGBT households in comparison with straight households report few differences in ownership of many financial products. However, differences in specific-product ownership among LGBT subsegments are pronounced.
- Gay households are just as likely as straight households to own CDs; stock or bond mutual funds; publically traded and nontraded stocks; 401(k), 403(b), or 457 plans; tangible assets; and vehicles.
- Lesbian households are more likely than straight households to own CDs, US Savings Bonds, money market mutual funds, custodial accounts, 529 plans, stock or bond mutual funds, publically traded and nontraded stocks, and tangible assets.
- Bisexual households tend to own fewer financial products; more than three times as many bisexual households as straight households report they own none (10% versus 3%).
- In comparison with straight households, LGBT households have below-average mean balances in savings, financial assets, investable assets, liquid assets, total assets, and net worth.
- The mean amounts owed by LGBT households for vehicle loans, consumer loans, and credit-card balances are average.
- LGBT households are less likely than straight households to have a full-service stockbrokerage account.
- LGBT households' total mean balance in retirement products ($192K) is comparable with those of straight households ($213K).
Financial Attitudes and Interesting Tidbits
LGBT households are more likely than straight households to be concerned about retirement income: A higher proportion are worried about outliving their savings and investments (22% versus 16%). The incidence of concerned households is roughly equal to the incidence of LGBT Baby Boomer and Silent Generation households.
- In the 140-plus MacroMonitor attitudes, few differences exist between LGBT and straight households' responses. Two differences are of particular note:
- Two in five LGBT households would prefer to do business with a single institution for their investment and insurance needs; one-third would prefer to pay a single monthly fee, rather than individual fees, for banking services.
- Possible reflections of the high incidence of Millennial and Gen X LGBT households are comfort in doing financial business online, a disinterest in talking to financial-institution personnel, and a belief that home ownership is no longer part of the American Dream. Identity theft is a high priority for fewer than one-third of LGBT households, in comparison with 44% of straight households.
- Bisexual (44%) and lesbian (47%) households are more than twice as likely as straight households (21%) to report having no disposable income at the end of a typical month. In contrast, 26% of gay households report more than $1,000 remaining at month's end.
- Half of LGBT households are basically uninterested in financial matters. The majority are "information light": 60% or more have used no sources for information about financial products, services, or decisions in the past 12 months.
- Although retirement preparation is the number one concern of straight households (18%), gay and bisexual households are less concerned (13% and 14%, respectively): Lesbian households' concern is on par with that of straight households.
Many of LGBT households' financial needs do not differ from those households with a heterosexual head. However, LGBT households do not reflect the mainstream in some key ways, such as in their desire for integrated products and automated offers. In response, institutions might fulfill more needs with less personal interaction. Although institutions might consider marketing to the LGBT community as a whole to position their organization as inclusive and friendly, it would be a mistake to treat all LGBT households as one community. The data show that each subsegment exhibits idiosyncrasies in experience, attitudes, and needs—products, services, and channel preferences are distinctive. Each subsegment warrants additional study to determine the most attractive offers and communications.
Learn more: MacroMonitor subscribers and nonsubscribers may contact us to learn more about the LGBT oversample. Subscribers may request an on-site presentation of these findings along with a Q&A session for a small additional fee.