Categories
The Issues

How Identity Documents Can Cause Discrimination and Credit Difficulties

Identity documents can cause a myriad of problems for trans and gender non-conforming individuals trying to access financial services. 

Requirements that identity documents must be obtained and referenced as part of the credit application process can result in discrimination against people based on gender identity or expression. Only an estimated 67 percent of transgender people have been able to update at least one identity document and one-third have no identity documentation consistent with their gender identity. (Source)

Why is this the case?

In the US, the lengthy and expensive undertaking of getting your name and gender marker updated on your IDs (which varies from state to state) can often cause trans people people to avoid or put off the process. Even after getting your updated documents, that’s not the end; you’ve then got to update all of your financial accounts, which can vary from faxing the court order (seriously, who faxes anymore?) to appearing in person at your bank or credit union. 


A typical name and gender marker updating process. Source: transequality.org

Similarly, if you’re gender non-conforming, it can be an emotional or unpleasant experience dealing with financial advisors who might not know any better than to gender you on the basis of your identity documents. 

The process of updating documents and accounts also isn’t wholesale, meaning you can end up with a partial or missing credit history, making you vulnerable to rejection for financial services in addition to discrimination.

Photo: The Gender Spectrum Collection

It can often feel like gambling; while a lot of banks might pay lip service to the LGBT community during pride month, how many of them are actually training their staff to account for people in our community? If it’s down to the individual employee to decide if you’re approved or rejected, how can you know that you’ll receive the same experience from employee to employee? 

A banking experience built for your needs 

At Daylight, all of our services are designed for the specific needs of the LGBT+ community. We understand your unique needs, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re being given the best advice and financial options available. 

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: A Purple Life

Money Stories is a new series designed to start the conversation about how being LGBT+ has affected our financial lives and hopefully help people feel inspired to talk more openly about money! Share your stories with me at billie@joindaylight.com.

– Billie

“Purple” is a black woman who works in marketing and is striving to quit her job this fall and retire at the age of 30. She catalogs her journey to and through early retirement on her blog APurpleLife.com.

When was the first time you thought about money?

I first thought about money when I was 8 and I went to collect the money I was promised by my Mom after doing my chores. I was told I would receive $1 per chore, but instead was given $0.70 and asked my Mom what happened. And that’s when I learned about taxes and FICA payments 🙂 .

What was your “aha” moment with money?

My “aha” moment happened after I finally got my dream job. It had everything I thought I needed in a career to make it fulfilling enough that I would want to do it every weekday until traditional retirement age: autonomy, creativity and flexibility. I got that job and…still didn’t want to fight my way onto a NYC subway car every Monday morning so I decided I needed a new plan. Luckily my partner had mentioned using money to buy freedom far earlier than traditional retirement age. Two years after hearing about that I finally listened.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

I’m not sure being LGBT+ specifically has impacted my relationship with money. I’m a black woman and so far think that has had a larger impact simply because those are more outward features of myself that you can see just by looking at me.

People of color and women are discriminated against for jobs, promotions and at times home loans simply because of this information, which you see on a resume or application form. I hadn’t considered how my sexuality could play into that, but I am out with my colleagues and since it only just became illegal in all 50 states to fire someone for their sexuality that could have had a large impact on my financial future.

What are your financial goals for the future?

I’m planning to save most of my next few paychecks and then I’m retiring this fall. 

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

Babeland…for obvious reasons 😉 .

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Matej Ftacnik

Matej co-founded a fintech/challenger banking- focused engineering firm, which grew to 250 employees in under 5 years. His firm helped expand challenger banks in Europe (Twisto), Asia (Standard Chartered Virtual Bank in Hong Kong) and the US (Sablecard). 

He’s a Forbes 30-Under-30 and EY’s Tech Entrepreneur of the Year for 2019.


What steps led you to Daylight?

I’ve been around fintech products and challenger banks within the last business I helped to build, Vacuumlabs. During that time I realized that new technologies enable for the creation of cheaper and more efficient banking solutions that can serve a very specific purpose. This insight combined with my long term passion for supporting the LGBT+ community made me realize that there is a pretty unique opportunity to build a new service that can serve the specific needs of the LGBT+ community.

When was the first time you thought about money?

Growing up in the States as the son of Central European immigrants, I’ve naturally thought of money and its huge impact on the way people live. Being able to compare the lifestyles of people in different parts of the world gave me an appreciation for access to work and the right financial tools. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

Since we’re not taught properly how to behave around money in school, there have been several aha moments with money during my life.

Starting with just basic saving habits, to understanding where and how to invest money smartly, to appreciating the ability to access financial tools like loans and mortgages all the way to seeing the importance of a financial cushion when times get tough. It’s been an evolution, rather than a revolution and I know that I’m far from over in my learning process.  

What do you do outside of work?

I like to go for runs, do a little bit of hiking and when possible relax with some yoga in the park. I also love cooking at home with my partner.

Favorite LGBT+ business?

The Los Angeles LGBT Center does amazing work for our community!

Categories
Money Stories

Money Stories: Daniella Flores (ILikeToDabble)

Hey folks! We’re kicking off a new series on our blog today: Money Stories. The goal of this series is to start the conversation about how being LGBT+ has affected our financial lives and hopefully help people feel inspired to talk more openly about money!

– Billie

Daniella is a serial side hustler, entrepreneur and cat lover. Over the last 2 and a half years herself and her wife Alexandra have been able to pay off $35,000 in debt partially thanks to side hustles. She blogs over at ILikeToDabble.

When was the first time you thought about money?

The first real time I started thinking positively about money was when I was in my mid 20’s, reading articles about creating an emergency fund, investing, and started thinking about how money could be used as a tool. Before that, money was always a source of anxiety. 

I remember growing up and being scared I wouldn’t make enough. If I could just live “comfortably”, I would be happy. 

I never thought about being able to retire, travel, and what to do when my parents were reaching retirement. These weren’t the things they taught in school.

What was your “aha” moment with money?

When my wife and I had to go to the thrift store one weekend to get gas money and food money before we got paid the next week. We are both kind of spenders and did not normally budget our money together when we first got married.

The feeling of falling into a paycheck to paycheck cycle had us thinking more of the future and what we want to be able to do. Plus, we still had debt. We had to figure something out.

How has being LGBT+ impacted your relationship with money?

Among all my relationships, my wife and I actually have a pretty healthy relationship together with money where we have a clear set of goals we are going after. It took a while to get here because neither of us were really “money people” but over time and learning together, it kind of just fell into place. We actually started learning more about money together online from financial blogs and when I started my blog to track some of our side hustle progress. As we discussed these things we learned online together, and things started to make sense. 

Now, we are fortunate enough to be able to bring in a good amount of money every month, our side hustles are going strong, and are planning to move cross country before the end of the year.

It wasn’t always this way though as I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship to money and it was source of anxiety for a long time (that anxiety still exists in the back of my mind too from time to time…because you never know what could happen).

I think it is also important to note that because we live in a cis-hetero society and economy that centers around those needs, the needs of the LGBT+ community often gets overlooked. A big one is healthcare and that adds more anxiety to the overall relationship I think most of us have with money (I know it is a source of anxiety for us).

What are your financial goals for the future?

Ally and I are planning to move to Washington State by the end of 2020. So, selling our current house and finding our new one is a big goal in the near future.

Besides that, we don’t have any really huge goals right now. We want to travel a lot in the coming years and money for that, savings, and running our side businesses are other top of mind goals. Continuing to diversify income is always a big running financial goal and priority for us.

I wanted to leave my day job in the next 5 years but that was before rona hit. After seeing what could happen when our economy collapses has me second-guessing that goal and if it needs to be pushed out. Regardless, we are continuing to diversify our income streams and stash money away so it grows over time and we create a more work-optional life. 

Favorite LGBT+ business (online or IRL)?

TransTech Social Enterprises launched by Angelica Ross 

Categories
Team Spotlight

Team Spotlight: Rob Curtis – CEO and Co-Founder

I’m Rob Curtis, Co-Founder of Daylight. I’m a proud Aussie who’s been living in London for 14 years and in the middle of relocating to Los Angeles. Though as I write this I’m currently in Mexico with my fiancee where we can enjoy some sunshine and delicious food while being close enough to pop across to LA and meet our team as we need. 

In London, I was lucky enough to work on lots of wonderful projects in finance, banking, and the third sector. More recently I’ve been closer to my passion as a serial LGBT+ entrepreneur.  I was previously Managing Director of Gaydar, a dating site for 1.5m LGBT+ people which taught me a lot about the internal lives of the community. I then built a couple of start-ups – the latest one, Helsa is a mental health platform that connects LGBT+ people to specialist mental health support. 

What steps led you to Daylight?

Daylight is the culmination of my work as an LGBT+ entrepreneur, an activist, a professional in finance, and as a consumer frustrated with banking in general. 

It’s been a long journey as a gay man learning how to thrive (not just survive) as an adult in a world that’s not often designed with us in mind.  So I’ve tended to be most interested in “grown up” things that I had to figure out myself like investing in mental health, having a life plan, and managing my money. I do a lot of public speaking about LGBT+ mental health and entrepreneurship at businesses like Google (for OutinTech) and in professional settings as a Board member of Series Q, the network of LGBT+ entrepreneurs in the UK. 

I met Matej, my co-founder at a Series Q event when I was on a panel about motivating people in a start-up environment. Fast forward two years until February 2020 when he gives me a call saying “hey I’ve got an idea you might be interested in” and the rest is history! 

When was the first time you thought about money?

Money was something that I thought about young because my parents gave us $15 AUD (around $10 USD) every two weeks to do chores around the house. It wasn’t much but if I wanted to buy something big, I knew I had to put money away.   

But I really understood how impactful money was when I was around 13 and my family struggled to make ends meet in the early 90s recession. My parents were very stressed and I ended up delivering newspapers to houses in our neighborhood so our family would have a bit of extra cash to spend on treats like a dinner out.

I think this experience makes me the kind of person who gets anxious thinking about money so I’ve had to develop positive financial habits and not just ignore those unopened, unpaid bills sitting on my desk. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

My aha moment came a few years ago when I was offered an appointment with an LGBT+ financial advisor. They helped me go from feeling anxious and ashamed talking about money to being comfortable opening up and trusting someone to help me figure out my financial goals and how to get there. I realized that as a gay man, I needed to organize my money differently to my brothers and how important it is to have someone who understand your lifestyle to help plan and get things in order. 

What do you do outside of work?

I spent time with my fiancee, Cesar – he is wonderful and very supportive of my crazy entrepreneur life.  I’ve always been a geek, so you’ll probably find me reading about the latest Sci-Fi show or video game on Reddit. I’m really lucky to have a wonderful group of friends from all over the world, so finding ways to spend time with them always makes me happy.  Oh and podcasts. I LOVE podcasts – you’ll hear me listening to Pod Save America, Keep It, Lovett or Leave It, Reply All, 99% Invisible, and Winds of Change which was probably my favorite podcast of the last few years (alongside a long list of fintech and business podcasts). 

Favorite LGBT+ business?

There are so many wonderful queer entrepreneurs and business leaders out there that it’d be hard to pick just one. On my shortlist, though, would be

  • Media: them.us – a media company that really gets that many modern queer lifestyles are intersectional and non-binary and there is a rich vein of important stories that aren’t being told.
  • Coffee: I popped into Bloom and Plume in LA for a take-out coffee recently. I love the community spirit there.
  • Lifestyle: I’m always impressed by the work that Robyn Exton and the team at HER do.  Queer dating platforms have always been dominated by men so it’s great to see how Robyn’s vision has been brought to life and how they’ve created a wonderful community of womxn, trans and non-binary people. 
Categories
Team Spotlight

Team Spotlight: Billie Simmons – Co-Founder and Chief of Staff

Billie Simmons (she/her) is Daylight’s Co-Founder and Chief of Staff. Previously, she founded a startup to help trans and non-binary people access safe services. Her background is in marketing and software engineering, at fintech focussed companies such as Techstars and Anthemis group. She regularly speaks on LGBT+ initiatives in mental health and technology and has spoken at, amongst others, Google, WeWork and Computer World Weekly. Get to know her below.

What steps led you to Be Money?

I was building an app to help trans and non-binary people access safe services (inspired by my experiences as a trans woman), and doing talks and panels about mental health, the LGBT+ community and technology. I actually met Rob, our CEO, at one of these panels and that’s how I first heard about Be Money. 

Before that I worked mostly in the fintech sector, either at VCs/incubators or at early stage startups, so this really is my sweet spot!

When was the first time you thought about money?

I remember getting my first job at 14 delivering a free newspaper and being so excited to get my first pay packet. £30 seemed like so much money! I was saving up for my first MacBook so I could record music on it. 

What was your “aha” moment with money?

It took me a while to have a healthy relationship with money. When I was a teenager it was always burning a hole in my pocket. When I started my transition I got into a lot of credit card debt in order to cover the expenses because I treated it like free money, rather than as a way to build credit, or to temporarily bridge expenses. 

My aha moment came when I realized that this wasn’t a viable option long term and saw my credit score dwindling. Learning how to consolidate my debt at lower interest rates was really helpful both for my mental health, and my finances!

What do you do outside of work?

I have a musical background, so I enjoy writing and making music and I also sing in choirs. I’m also a big sci-fi and fantasy reader, so I’m always working on something. I just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments.

Favorite LGBT+ business?

I just bought some prints from Ashley Lukashevsky who is an amazing artist based in LA. I’ve been a fan of hers for years! 

Categories
The Issues

Surrogacy – An Issue of Money?

Having a family is a basic human right, and has been a massive topic in the LGBTQ+ community for many decades. I don’t want to go into why it is not unhealthy to raise a child as an LGBTQ+ couple, and why love is the only important aspect needed for the healthy development of a child; no matter the sexual orientation of the parents. I recommend watching the documentary series ‘Babies’ on Netflix, if you want to learn more about the research done on this topic.

Today, I want to give a quick look into the financial struggles couples who want to start a family, especially a gay couple, might face. 

Let’s start with options we currently have as LGBTQ+ couples:

  • Donor insemination
  • Co-parenting
  • Adoption or fostering
  • Surrogacy

If we put aside the options that are not naturally possible for gay couples, and where there is a lack of legal certainty, we are left with surrogacy. But for many couples, this option is often unattainable given their financial situation. Why is that? 

How much does surrogacy cost and where does the money go?

The price of an end-to-end surrogacy process may vary based on multiple factors, such as the agency you choose or your location. In general, the price varies between USD$90k-130k. As an example, the price list from West Coast Surrogacy, details what you pay for:

  • Gestational Surrogate Compensation (Base pay for an experienced surrogate in California; Caesarean section; surrogate insurance; unexpected situations as a cancellation; termination of pregnancy, etc)
  • Screening Costs (Psychological screening; criminal investigation; medical screening)
  • Legal fees (Contracts; establishing parentage)
  • Psychological support
  • Other (Medication for the surrogate; monitoring of the pregnancy; life insurance, etc)

The process is complicated, difficult and all the risks need to be covered by agencies, which is reflected in the high price tag. Is it then possible, even for an average (those outside the top 10-20% earners) couple, to go through the process?

Source: https://www.westcoastsurrogacy.com

How to pay for the process

  • Loans – home equity loans; loans from a retirement account; fertility financing loans; agency financing programs
  • Grants
  • Fundraising

Fundraising or crowdfunding are very popular ways of financing personal and community projects. The process is very simple compared to other financial products, but results are very unpredictable and it may take a long time to get the money. The benefits however, are that you don’t have to return the money, you don’t pay interest and you only pay a small share to the platform of your choice. 

Grants are a great opportunity for everyone who really can not afford to repay a loan or do not have enough capacity or skill to set up a fundraising campaign. Grants don’t have to be repaid in most cases. The process varies depending on the grant provider. You should do your research and check what is available. For example, Men Having Babies provides assistance, and there are other similar options. Remember, that the grants are usually sponsored by companies and families. So if you have any financial resources spare, you can support other parents. 

Loans may be difficult to access and difficult to repay. This is especially true when you realize that not only will you have to pay for the loan and its interest, but you also have baby-related expenses and at least one of the parents won’t be working full time for some time. On the other hand, loans represent the highest chance of getting the needed funding. 

In our previous post about the difficulties of gay couples applying for a loan or mortgage, we went through data that shows how couples are still discriminated by banks. You will want to choose the right financial partner – a bank that trusts you and supports you on the way. In the end, you want to enjoy the time with your family and your newborn and not struggle in discussions with old school banks. 

Who is the right partner for you? 

We are building a bank that listens to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the difficulties the community has is the funding of surrogacy or different ways to start a family. Indeed, there are many challenges you will face in going through this process, however we at Daylight are here to support you. Join us at be-money.com as we are set to launch in the US soon. If you have already gone through the process and are willing to share your story with us, please send us an email at hello@joindaylight.com

Categories
The Issues

Mortgages for LGBTQ+ Couples: Same but Different

According to multiple credit and lending laws, such as the Fair Housing Act and other similar regulation and policies, discrimination based on gender, sexuality and sexual orientation should not be an issue of contention in contemporary society. But people who have actually gone through the process of applying for a mortgage or other lending products, say that they are being systematically discriminated against by the banks. If you think we are making this up, let’s review the relevant data at our disposal. 

Data from a study conducted by the Movement Advancement Project shows that 73% of the LGBTQ+ community living in the US, live in states where there is no explicit policy that prohibits credit discrimination, based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Source: https://www.lgbtmap.org/

This means that financial institutions, such as banks, are not enforced to treat their customers on a truly equal basis by regulators.

Where does this lead? 

Researchers from the Iowa State University studied national mortgage data from 1990 to 2015. The patterns they found were surprising – and not in a positive way. The mortgage approval rate for same-sex couples was 3-8% lower compared to heterosexual couples applying for mortgages.

They also studied the correlation between applicants’ socio-economic backgrounds, such as work history and creditworthiness. Similarly, same-sex couples were 73%more likely to be denied than heterosexual couples with the same background. 

“The difference in finance fees averaged less than 0.5 percent, but when combined, added up to as much as $86 million annually,”

say the co-authors of the study, Hua Sun and Lei Gao.

What opportunities do we have to change the situation? 

Of course, we can push for the policies to be enforced by law. We know that there is some action happening. For example, the 2015 Supreme Court of the United States ruling codified the fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states. However, the legal process is often slow and gradual.

It is not an exaggeration to say that within financial institutions, the pace of change is often even more sluggish than in the public sector. Therefore, we should look to take more control of our own volition. We simply cannot afford to wait for the government to take the  necessary steps. We need to take action on our own, as a community.

Building our bank, based on equal rules

It is an enormous effort for legacy banks to act on changes to internal processes and product rules, particularly at speed. That’s why we need smaller, more agile and modern banks which can be built based on the needs of specific niche groups. We need an LGBTQ+ bank that is created for and cares for the specific demands of the community, and enables people to live equal lives.

If you feel that the current state of the world needs to change, if you think that action needs to be taken, then join us on the way to building a bank specifically for you. Join us at Daylight.