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Advisors Share 5 Ideas to Make Onboarding More Inclusive

Sasha Grabenstetter June 8, 2023

The financial advisor onboarding process sets the tone for the advisor-client relationship. Many would agree it’s crucial in theory, but in practice, a lack of inclusive practices across the industry has made the experience less than ideal for LGBTQ+ clients and nontraditional families.

Considering that the LGBTQ+ community is one of the fastest-growing minority segments, now is the time to review and refine your process for welcoming clients into your practice to foster a sense of belonging for all.1

#1 Adding Pronouns to the Onboarding Process

Developing a systematic way of asking about and using a person’s chosen name and pronouns as early as the first prospect meeting can set the tone for a thoughtful, personalized client experience.

This could be as simple as asking whether there is anything they want you to know about their pronouns and name in your meeting request form so it’s easy for them to communicate how they want to be recognized.

“I have been sharing my pronouns professionally for some time now on social media, during video meetings, and in discussions,” Laura LaTourette, CFP®, said in an editorial for Financial Planning magazine. As an advisor specializing in LGBTQ+ planning and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she is disheartened to find “a pronoun gap across the financial services industry.”

If you’d like to learn more about pronouns and how you can incorporate them, explore this pronoun resource from the Human Rights Campaign.

#2 Making Thoughtful Tweaks to Fact Finding

If you’re looking to serve LGBTQ+ clients, start by making sure your onboarding questions don’t pigeonhole people.

“In your fact-finding questionnaire, instead of having a husband/wife status, use client one and client two or include a space for a spouse and partner,” says Marci Bair, CFP®, president of Bair Financial Planning. She also recommends including a way for the client to indicate whether they’re interested in LGBTQ+ planning or are a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

For advisor and LGBTQ+ ally Woody Derricks, CFP®, ADPA®, this is a commonsense approach. “It’s not a big deal to me to change how I say something to help someone else feel significantly better,” says Derricks, president of Partnership Wealth Management, which won a 2022 InvestmentNews Excellence in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award for the team’s work with LGBTQ+ clients.

#3 Respecting Client Confidentiality

It’s also best practice to put your prospect or client at ease, letting them know that everything you discuss in your client meetings will be kept confidential. Your client needs to know that not only is the financial data they are providing secure, but also the private personal information, too. An LGBTQ+ client may fear rejection, harassment, or the loss of their job if their identity is revealed to the wrong person.

In a 2022 AARP survey of LGBTQ individuals, 85 percent said they’re concerned about discrimination based on sexual orientation.2 Understanding this fact can help you engage in deeper client conversations.

#4 Taking a Thoughtful Approach

To create an effective financial plan, you need to know a client’s dreams and goals for their life. You and your staff members need to be prepared to discuss those goals without judgment.

There are also many outdated terms to avoid in conversation; the GLAAD media reference guide is one resource you can use to ensure your terminology is up to date. In addition, consider a professional diversity training course for you and your staff so everyone is on the same page.

#5 Building Your Skill Set

The vast majority of LGBTQ+ individuals say the best thing firms can do to reach them is to listen and truly attempt to understand their challenges and opportunities.If you’re ready to do just that, read our new eBook, Candid Conversations: LGBTQ+ Planning. It provides financial planners like you with practical knowledge as well as techniques and tactics to foster candid conversations, with examples and sample dialogue.


1. Gallup, “U.S. LGBT Identification Steady at 7.2%,” February 22, 2023.

2. AARP. “Dignity 2022: The Experiences of Older LGBTQ Adults,” June 14, 2022.

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

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About the Author

Sasha Grabenstetter, AFC®, BFA™ is a Financial Planning Education Consultant at eMoney Advisor. She is an integral part of the internal and external financial planning education programs, as well as financial planning content development. Sasha won the 2020 Outstanding Symposium Practitioners' Forum Award from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. She previously co-authored “Apple Seed: A Student Guide to Pro Bono Financial Planning” and “All My Money: Change for the Better.” With close to 10 years in financial education, Sasha received her AFC® designation in 2015 and graduated with her master’s degree from Texas Tech University in 2012.

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