/ Money

Does anti-gay discrimination exist in financial services?

Pink pound

In an age of civil partnerships and gay fostering and adoption, I can’t think of any financial product that now needs to be tailored to a gay customer base, or which discriminates against it. Can you?

Go back a couple of decades and same-sex couples might have struggled to find a tax-friendly competitive deal on some financial products. There was clearly a need for specialised advice, such as when it came to joint mortgages, tax planning and life insurance.

Nowadays, equality legislation seems to have removed the need for tailored products. So is the finance sector now blind to sexuality? I’d say yes.

Is the pink pound still around?

Even the phrase “pink pound” seems to have died out. For me that’s a good thing, as it always appeared to be more a marketing wheeze to target a demographic perceived as having an above-average disposable income, rather than demonstrating a genuine desire to offer tailored products and services to that segment of society.

Nowadays, I’m not even sure what a gay mortgage or gay financial advice would look like.

Even banks, those bastions of conservatism, seem to have moved with the times. The Co-operative came top in Stonewall’s recent poll looking for the best gay-inclusive advertising, with Lloyds TSB in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Nationwide is one of Stonewall’s ‘Diversity Champions’ and is supporting the annual Stonewall Awards later in the year, an event aimed at celebrating those who have made a positive impact on the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain.

Has financial discrimination died out?

Other big-name banks also act as Diversity Champions, including American Express, Barclays, Yorkshire & Clydesdale banks, the Co-operative, Royal Bank of Scotland, Prudential, Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC, as well as Visa Europe, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Services Authority.

All of this feels normal today, but would have been almost unimaginable 20 years ago. Which leaves me with the question: are there any areas of finance where sexual discrimination still exists or is sexuality now an irrelevance when it comes to your money?

And a final wider question – are there any groups in society who still face discrimination from their bank, insurer or other financial provider?

Comments
Profile photo of Victoria Pearson
Member

Absolutely. When my father in law was buying a house with his partner they were not allowed a joint mortgage and my father-in-law had to sign documents saying that his children would not have any claim on the house if he were to die. It seems that him being gay even has a bearing on what he can do with a property after he dies!

Profile photo of Victoria Pearson
Member

I suppose in fairness I should add that they got their mortgage about 15 years ago. Things might be different now…

Member
David Barnard says:
10 August 2011

In my experience, discrimination does still exist! When I went to my local branch of the Halifax (part of the Lloyds Banking Group) in Newport, Isle of Wight, to apply for a Cash ISA, the sales advisor took me through the application process online in the branch. When it came to the question of my status, I was asked if I was either Single, Married, Divorced or Widowed. When I told her that none of the categories applied as I had a Civil Partner, she said that unless I chose one of the four options offered, my application couldn’t proceed! After consulting with her management team, I was advised to choose ‘Single’ and then after the application had been processed, she would delete the ‘Single’ option from my record, leaving it showing nothing again! I pointed out to her that as ISA’s can only be held by individuals, the status option was irrelevant anyway, and also asked her to process a formal complaint to Head Office requesting that if an applicants status was still required, then ‘Civil Partner’ should be shown as an option on all future online applications. As far as I’m aware, Halifax still haven’t corrected this!