Real Money, Real Experts

Show your Pride: Building an Inclusive Practice with Cait Howerton, AFC®, CFP®

June 22, 2021 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 29
Real Money, Real Experts
Show your Pride: Building an Inclusive Practice with Cait Howerton, AFC®, CFP®
Show Notes Transcript

In honor of Pride Month, we dive deeper into the unique financial challenges of the LGBTQ+ community and learn the changes — both big and small — we can make to create a more inclusive practice. 

Co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson speak with Cait Howerton, CFP®, AFC®, member of the LGBTQ+ community, and Lead Planner at Facet Wealth where she helps her clients uncover their life goals, navigate their money beliefs, and effectively use their earnings to achieve their dreams.

From higher youth homeless rates and increased student loan debt, to the impact of non-inclusive language, the group discusses the responsibility of financial coaches and counselors to not only understand, but meet the needs of their LGBTQ+ clients.

 Show Notes:

 00:52 Cait Introduction
01:39 Cait's Journey to the Field of Finance
06:45 A Financial and Social Advocate
08:03 The Unique, and Complex, Financial Challenges of the LGBTQ+ Community
11:34 Advise for Student Loan Borrowers
15:37 Building Inclusive Practices as a Financial Counselor/Coach
20:29 Resources for Building an Inclusive Practice
23:02 Cait's Two Cents       
 
 Show Note links:

Connect with Cait!
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/caithowerton
LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/caithowerton/

Resources:

Facet Wealth: https://facetwealth.com/
Smartpath:
https://www.joinsmartpath.com/
Find an AFC:
https://www.afcpe.org/find-an-afcpe-certified-professional/
Federal Student Loans:
https://studentaid.gov/
2050 Trailblazers:
https://www.2050trailblazers.com/
GLAAD:
https://www.glaad.org/
Human Rights Campaign:
https://www.hrc.org/resources
Prudential LGBT Financial Experience:
https://www.prudential.com/wps/portal/production/prudential/links/about/lgbt-financial-wxperience/!ut/p/z0/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zivS08XD083A18DBzN3Qwc3SzdXc2D3J0szcz0C7IdFQEk0h_d/
The Trevor Project:
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
SAGE - Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ+ Elders:
https://www.sageusa.org/

Celebrate PRIDE with ACFPE: 
https://www.afcpe.org/news-and-publications/blog/afcpe-pride-month-2021/
AFCPE Equity Screen:
https://www.afcpe.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/AFCPE-Equity-Screen-Final.pdf



Intro:

Welcome to Real Money, Real Experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® or AFCPE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an Accredited Financial Counselor®, or AFC®, and the CEO of Chief Financial Mom. Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topics that the personal finance professionals care about: helping clients, building community and your professional growth. Welcome everyone to the Real Money, Real Experts podcast. I'm Rebecca. This is Mary. Thanks for taking the time to join us today .

Rebecca Wiggins:

Today on the show we are talking with Cait Howerton! Cait is both an AFC® and CFP® professional. She is a Lead Planner at Facet Wealth where she helps her clients uncover their life goals, navigate their values and money beliefs, and effectively use their earnings to achieve their dreams. Cait believes that all people should have access to equitable, objective, and conflict-free financial advice; it is her personal mission to make sure that financial planning is for all, not just for the few. She identifies as LGBTQ+, a Financial and Social Advocate, a frequent podcast guest, and Student Loan Expert. W e're so excited to have you today. Welcome Cait.

Cait Howerton:

Hey, thank you. I'm so excited to be here.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So Cait, tell us about your story and how you got into the financial field.

Cait Howerton:

Yeah, so, you know, like so many people that are in financial services, I too was a, a bit of a career changer. So I was pursuing my MBA and I was at an age of where I, like, I kind of just needed a job, wanted the MBA got into hotel sales. And with that, I was trying to figure out what the heck really brought me passion and what did I want to get up for each day as I went to work. And through that, I really started doing a lot of just assessing myself to see . And what I was really interested in was helping people uncover their financial goals, their financial priorities, and then also like their values and potentially even obstacles that they faced to be able to make those, those dreams come true. I know that that's cliche, but kind of conversely, to a lot of CFP® , I came in through the financial counseling and kind of financial therapy door into financial services. And before I even looked at pursuing my CFP® truth, be told it was the last thing I really wanted to do. I found the AFCPE®. And so I started studying the curriculum for the Accredited Financial Counselor® certification and then kind of dragged my feet. I was volunteering with various like nonprofits doing financial coaching, financial counseling, kind of like just helping even with like the Volunteer Income Tax Association. And finally, I really got it together and I attended my first AFCPE® Symposium in Louisville, Kentucky, and that's where it kind of all changed for me. You know, I was there for a week. I really immersed myself into the AFCPE® and into financial services in general. And you know, that's a little bit about how I got into the industry.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

And Cait I think that may be one of the first times you and I met when you were very interested. I remember we had a small group discussion and you had your notepad and we're taking notes as fast as I was talking. We were talking about private practice. It looks like now you're working for Facet Wealth. So tell us what you do for them and kind of how you got there.

Cait Howerton:

Yeah. So taking a ton of notes makes perfect sense. And I actually was going through some files that I had filed away and I had like a Marriott. I think it was Marriott, it was the hotel; had just full of notes from that conference. So as far as like what I'm doing now, I I'm the lead planner for Facet Wealth. And there I take care of just really all sorts of clients. So people that are making 20, 30, $40,000 a year all the way up to, you know, as much as you can think, and I provide financial planning. So as far as how I got there from, you know, doing volunteer financial coaching and, you know, working for free to, to working for Facet, I initially through getting my AFC® or getting, you know, getting my hours for the AFC®, I really got involved within the New Orleans community and then worked with various nonprofits to do financial coaching. And then I was hired by the organization who took a chance on me called Smart Path. They provide financial wellness. And so basically that is financial coaching and financial planning for employees. So it's an employer paid financial wellness product for them. Work there for several years, continue to learn and grow. There I pursued my CFP®. Got my CFP® credentials. And, and since then, I thereafter, I went on to work for Facet.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So, how would you say those credentials compliment one another and help you serve your clients better?

Cait Howerton:

You know, at the time when I started the AFC®, I was brand new into financial services in general. And so for me, I feel like it did something that it laid the baseline to understand overall finances of everything up until the point of investments . And because, because I'm really interested in serving mass affluent clients, AKA real people that , you know, those are not super high net worth. I'm really not trying to build a practice of billionaires. This stuff is relevant to every single person that I'm working with. And the unfortunate aspect or the unfortunate thing about the CFP® is really, it doesn't teach much of anything concerning cashflow, budgeting, debt management, building your credit and such things, other things such as even like home ownership. And then really the CFP® Board. Finally in 2021, they have added a soft skills aspect to their, to their overall exam material. But the AFCPE® has been in front of that for , oh my goodness. I think from the beginning. So figuring out how to talk to clients, that is one of the biggest things that the AFC® taught me and then staying a member of the AFCPE® organization on an ongoing basis. You know, I came for the education and I stay for the people is something that I always tell my colleagues when they're considering, because , you know, I , I get so much ongoing support in a way of CEs and, and just overall camaraderie and having people that are within my network that I know will help me be able to navigate cases and to be able to connect, you know , connect people nationwide with resources that they need.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Cait, one of your identities is as a financial and social advocate. What does that look like for you?

Cait Howerton:

I would say that looks like, you know, being here today, taking the opportunity to have conversations about the LGBTQ community concerning money. I think that for me, I really tried to be intentional with my time that's spent outside of work. Outside of just like times, for instance, family, that I am plugging into using my time and my talents to help uplift communities, not just my local community, but even the community at large, within nationwide. To make sure that people are connected with affordable financial services. To make sure that people can receive education, to help them to achieve their life's goals and dreams, to learn the information that they need to learn. Whether it be concerning like job placement or getting good financial advice, or even such as like LGBTQ youth. Giving time to those who are like homeless youth, et cetera. So for me, I think whenever I think of financial and social advocate, I'm out here preaching the gospel about like financial coaching and counseling and making sure that people have connection to , to those services as well as just making sure that those that are within marginalized communities are lifted up.

Rebecca Wiggins:

So Cait, can we dig in a little bit to that? I'd love to know what are some specific financial issues that are maybe specific to the LGBTQ+ community. And I'm thinking of things like, how does that impact poverty or homelessness or student loan debt in particular, in a way that we may not be thinking about.

Cait Howerton:

One of the cool things that the AFCPE® is doing within this year, it's next year, they will be releasing a DEI Essentials course, which we'll go into this in a bit more detailed way. But you know, a few things that are really specific to LGBTQ individuals, such as student loans , poverty, homelessness, etc. Thinking through LGBTQ youth of the percentages that are homeless. The vast majority of youth in America are homeless today are LGBTQ. And a large reason for that is just for lack of familial support. So they've came out to their parents. Their parents, you know, objected to how their child identified and they essentially told them to get out. And that's tough. Like, what do you do at that point? Where do you go to live? Unless you have a family member or a friend who's willing to open their home, you're then homeless. And that comes with, if you, if you let's say you're not 16, you can't get like a job yet at that point, how are you going to pay for clothes? How are you going to pay for potential books or anything that you need for school food, etc. And so even just thinking about a teenager or younger, having to navigate, like how to , how to get into like an LGBTQ shelter. There are a lot of shelters who will exclude LGBTQ kids because of their identity. It's tough. I can't, I can't even imagine like my nephew, someone like my kid, my nephew's age, trying to figure that out. And going deeper into like student loans, especially for folks who come out as, you know, LGBTQ+. If their families aren't willing to support them to help, you know, to help financially support them with their education, they're most likely going to have to turn to student loans. And with that, you know, they're typically they , they pull, you know, they pulled potential support out from many in the way of education support. It's probably also in the way of like housing, a car, etc . And that necessitates taking even more in student loans to cover your, your cost of living. And then something that's really, you know, we may not always think about, but for transgender kids. I say kids, but you know, transgender college students. When we go to apply for the FAFSA, we have to self-disclose our assigned sex at birth. And it's important that I say assigned sex at birth versus gender, because it's , it's not asking for a gender. And with that, let's say , we're, we're thinking about like a trans woman. And so at that point, if, if her assigned sex at birth is male, and if she chooses, you know, female at that point, it's, it's going to be, while that would be disclosing her gender, it's not going to, it's not going to be in line with like a birth certificate. Why is that important? Selective service. So in our country, we have to disclose that assigned sex at birth and in order to be able to receive funding for school. So it causes a whole slew of issues for transgender folks and navigating, you know, sex versus gender.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So Cait Explained to me a little more on the student loan topic as a student loan expert, what proactive steps can individuals take to help avoid large amounts of student loan debt?

Cait Howerton:

Probably first and foremost, if, you know, specifically for , for , for anyone I just, for LGBTQ folks, I would say concentrating on what are you hoping to attain through this degree? You know, are you going and do you, haven't a sight like an actual target in mind and starting there. Deciding based upon like, what is the career that you're hoping to pursue? And then with that, what will the potential salary be? That way you know, okay, maybe I can, instead of considering Yale or Harvard here, and the amount of loans that may come with that, maybe I need to step down to a bit more affordable institution. And then as we're also thinking about every semester, students are offered this huge amount of money through student loans , do you actually need it? I know you , you obviously want to be able to take out like your tuition, your fees, your books, and of course you have to eat. So if you can get a job and work several hours a week, that's great. And hopefully you can find some sort of job within your field or, or their field that you'll be pursuing after school . But if in that way, taking out less every semester is so, so beneficial in the way of how much you have to pay back later.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Any tips for those who have already taken out a lot of student loans that they're going to having to pay back.

Cait Howerton:

It really just depends upon if that individual is going to qualify for public service loan forgiveness or not. You know, if you're working and if you intend on working within a field where you work with for nonprofit , an example, an RN working for a nonprofit hospital. It's probably for the best, depending upon the amount of loans that they have comparative to the income that they're earning, it's probably best for them to go ahead and get on an income driven repayment plan and work that kind of work that for the next 10 years or so, and apply for public service loan forgiveness depending upon the amount of the loans. For someone who doesn't qualify for PSLF, you know, really the only way to get rid of student loans, and I kind of hate to say it it's death. I mean, we're , we're starting to see some legislation come through to where people can, can discharge student loans through bankruptcy. It's, it's happening very rarely. And I know we've got some promises from various administrations on student loan forgiveness, but until we see that, you know, we certainly can't count our chicks before they hatch. And so with that, you know, kinda gotta bite the bullet and just begin to pay them down. If you can't afford to then of course, that's where you have things like time-based forgiveness. And recently with new COVID legislation passing through, at least there won't be that tax bomb at the end. Should you keep your loans for the 20 or 25 year time period. But thinking about like you stretch those out 10 years worth of loans stretched out to 25 years, you're spending so much more than you would have to by by prioritizing them and just getting them paid off.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

What is your go-to resource for someone who's looking to pay off student loan debt? Do you have something you would recommend?

Cait Howerton:

There are a ton of resources online. Not to be too much of a plug for the AFCPE®, but I would start there. I, you know, we were able to get connected with a ton of professionals who are either willing to work with you for free or work with you on a really low cost. If someone is able to commit the time and they have the skill, will and the willpower to go through and really learn about student loans, that's where it's going back to the government resources that are available. And I believe it's studentloans.gov. And , but you definitely want to fact check me on that, but going in , just looking through what's offered through the Department of Education, surprisingly, the resources are pretty good. But it's also can be confusing. And there were a ton of strategies concerning student loans. So if you , if they can, I would recommend working with the professionals .

Rebecca Wiggins:

Okay. So I'm curious too , from the lens of our professionals, if you can share a little bit more about some misconceptions about people who are LGBTQ or just sort of thinking about building inclusive practices, what are some recommendations you have or ways that financial services practitioners can be more inclusive?

Cait Howerton:

You know, the first thing that comes to mind for me recently in my own personal life, I'm getting married next year. And we signed the contract for the venue and on that contract, it said bride and groom . And I almost didn't commit to the venue. And they would have been losing eight, $9,000. Weddings are expensive y'all. So it completely completely upset me because I was like, man, it's 2021. They don't know any better to do spouse one and spouse two? And, you know, I had to pause and think through that. And I, I was petty, but even when, as far as like putting an addendum into the contract that says that every instance of groom will be taken out of like the venues vocabulary and any of their paperwork that they're sending us, etc. Because I'm not a groom. And so that kinda leads me back to thinking about the financial services industry of it's not intentional. Because I mean, 70% of folks are heterosexual or cisgender. And so thinking about like husband and wife on intake forms. So often that is the case, but it's not for everyone. So that's one place as far as really starting to examine , how inclusive is your paperwork? Just let alone starting there. How inclusive is your vocabulary. When someone says my spouse and you're sitting across from a man, do you automatically say wife? And at that point to condition ourselves as practitioners to say, like your spouse, your partner, so on and so forth. Getting into other areas of like, what can we do that are easy ways to be inclusive of others and to be able to provide that advice for LGBTQ individuals. Something else I think about concerning LGBTQ people would be parenting. And nationwide, even though, you know, we , we have marriage equality and we are protected now to be able to get married. That doesn't mean that our, our children automatically have what the concept that's called parentage, or that we have, excuse me, we have, as individuals have parentage over our children. So despite an LGBTQ partner being named on the birth certificate, you know, the biological parent will be given preference for guardianship. So what does that mean? You know, nationwide for a heterosexual couple, if a woman and a man use, like they go through IUI or IVF to be able to conceive, and they have to use like a donor to be able to do so. When they place a man on the birth certificate, they have automatic parentage over that child because they're married within a heterosexual marriage. But for LGBTQ folks, it's not the same. We have to go through the process of doing second parent adoption, and to be able to establish that guardianship. So when you're, when you're planning with, with folks who are thinking through becoming parents, that's, that's a way that you want to be able to have in mind. To be able to help give that advice. Something else is titling and the whole estate planning process, which obviously that's that's for attorneys to kind of navigate. As financial planning professionals, We certainly are a part of that process and encouraging protection through various, like titling our assets in a particular way, giving advice for someone to go work with an attorney. If people have tenuous relationships with their family members, it's already hard when someone passes away. But it can be even harder if , if someone disagreed with a family member's identity and they began to like really try to take them to , to court and so forth to, to receive particular assets from family members that they disagree with, with who they were, or, or who they were partnered with, etcetera. So, and then I would say as far as misconception goes. You know, I think that a big misconception that I, that I have seen is that really LGBTQ people are , are so, so much different than everyone else. I'll tell you, we, my fiance and I watch Netflix every night. We fight over, who's going to do the dishes. We figure out who's going to go buy groceries. We figure out who's going to mow the yard. Like, and just like every other couple, we, we have silly things that we do, and we have little nuances about us. But I think the biggest thing there is also trying to group folks that are within a particular community and , and hold them to a set of stereotypes. Because as we get to know each, each person, we're all so, so different within who we are and how we behave.

Rebecca Wiggins:

That's great. I love that. That's a great reminder just to , to really approach each person as an individual and not make assumptions right. About who they are or what their preferences might be. Do you have any resources that you could recommend to professionals who might be thinking about those tips on creating a more inclusive practice?

Cait Howerton:

The first thing that I would probably recommend when the AFCPE® releases their DEI Essentials course, go take it. Because it is going to be awesome. That it's going to be money well-spent or scholarships well spent for those who eventually are able to be, to receive access to that course. And then next I would say is there is a podcast called 2050 Trailblazers. They do a great job of inclusivity for diversity issues all around. Another would be GLAAD. So G-L-A-A-D. The Human Rights Campaign, and Prudential has a really, really awesome LGBTQ financial experience report that was, that was actually issued over. it was two , two reports over various years that shows , you know, a ton of statistics. It shows quite a bit of information on what, as far as, like how much money LGBTQ people are making and various issues that they're facing financially. And then probably outside of that, the last thing that I would recommend would be the Trevor Project.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Can you say more about The Trevor project, just to give us a little brief review.

Cait Howerton:

The Trevor Project is probably the absolute largest organization that has been, you know, their overall mission is serving, providing crisis intervention and suicide protection or prevention services to LGBTQ people under 25. So, it's really, really difficult to go through the process of coming out for a lot of folks. And thinking about like, as far as overall discrimination, you know, LGBTQ people face it from inside their families and outside their families. And so they really don't have a place to turn to receive that love and support. So, you know, oftentimes if we face marginalization, we can at least go home to parents, to loved ones and not face that same kind of marginalization. For LGBTQ people it's not that way. And with that, that lack of belongingness and emotional support comes with , with just an overall impact to a person's emotional and mental wellness. And that's where having resources like this, nationwide, and community-wide such as the Trevor Project really can , can make a difference in someone's overall capacity to know that it really does get better.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Cait, you have such a passion to help so many, and I am always so impressed with how you just keep going. So, one of the things at the end of our interview that we like to get is the guests two cents or your biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had one piece of advice to offer other financial professionals, what would it be?

Cait Howerton:

I would say that a person's financial experience it's intrinsically linked to their comprehensive makeup of their identity. So what do I mean by that? It's, it's influenced by their race, their gender, their sexuality, their socioeconomic status, all of these things directly shape an individual's experience of life and their experience with money. So I think the difference in someone who is a successful financial professional and those who aren't long-term , or those who actively affirm a client's unique experience, you know, they're not using rules of thumb or benchmarks, etc, to be able to provide financial advice, they are getting to know their clients. And they're employing strategies that address the unique needs of the person sitting on the opposite side of them. So what I would probably leave our listeners with is yes, there are certainly things that stereotypes or potential planning issues that are, are really intimate to different populations of people. But really, if you can take the time to get to know the person that you're sitting across from and understand what's important to them. And then like what obstacles are facing and to give good advice to them, you will be successful.

Rebecca Wiggins:

I love that. Thank you so much, Cait. We are so glad that you were able to join us today for the show. Can you just tell our listeners where they can connect with you?

Cait Howerton:

Yeah. So you can find me on Twitter or on LinkedIn, and I am not super active on either one of them right now, as I'm planning a wedding, but I promise I will get back to you in time.

Rebecca Wiggins:

I love it. Congratulations as well.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

Rebecca, I love how much energy Cait has. She's got such an enthusiasm for life, and she really doesn't let any grass grow under her feet. It really did not feel like that long ago that she was at her very first conference. And just a few years later, she's already done so much. You can also feel her passion to help others, especially marginalized communities and individuals. And I'm just so impressed with her pro bono efforts and how she wants to serve everyone. I love the discussion about looking at the individual and not stereotyping others, but really getting to know them for who they are and what they bring to the table, regardless of labels that we put on others. What did you think?

Rebecca Wiggins:

Yeah, I, I picked up on some of the same things as well. I always love talking with Cait and enjoy her energy and passion. I loved when she talked about that she came for the content and stayed for the people. I feel like that's like a tagline for AFCPE®. Yeah, it was really cool to hear her say that. And then just some of the things I was sort of making personal note of is, you know, the importance of examining our vocabulary and the importance of language. And especially as you know, times are changing and things that maybe we were used to, are starting to be things that maybe we need to be thinking about so that we can, and she mentioned this as well , affirm the client's unique experience and their needs, regardless. You know, we're , we're all different in many different ways. And so, as you said, not stereotyping others, but really looking at them as an individual and getting to know them as a human first. She also mentioned the DEI Essentials program that's coming. And I'm really excited about that. It's in the peer review process right now. We have lots of different writers from different areas of what we think about when we think about diversity, equity and inclusion. So not just race and ethnicity or sexual orientation, but also things like religion and how your finances are impacted by your religious beliefs. By your socioeconomic status. And also things like gender. So it's, and disability. It's going to be a really unique really rich program that will help professionals understand different communities that they may be serving and what those different challenges might be that they're experiencing related to their money. So we're really looking forward to that. The goal is to have that out later this year or early 2022. So be looking for that. And of course, we'll, we'll follow up with much more information on that program as well.

Dr. Mary Bell Carlson:

So Rebecca, do you have to be a member of AFCPE® to get the DEI Essential course?

Rebecca Wiggins:

Absolutely not. No. It'll just be one of the programs that you can access from our website. It's just going to be along with our training and certifications, and it'll, it'll be something you can take on your own, or if you're already certified and you want to go deeper into that knowledge to better serve clients.

Outro:

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