From collecting autographs to advising LGBTs ​

Entrepreneur from a young age created a financial planning niche in high demand

Jun 5, 2018 @ 1:38 pm

By Deborah Nason

David Rae
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David Rae

David Rae developed a keen awareness of money when his father, NFL backup quarterback Mike Rae, retired from football.

Growing up, the younger Mr. Rae, now 39 and founder and president of DRM Wealth Management, knew his family was always navigating how to live off their savings.

"I remember my dad buying a Porsche, yet we always had to live on a budget and negotiate new purchases," he said. "I really learned how to stretch a dollar."

Mr. Rae, a native of Irvine, Calif., credits his parents for teaching him how to handle money at a young age.

Know someone?Do you know a successful adviser from a diverse background who has an inspirational story to tell? If so, email special projects editor Liz Skinner at lskinner@investmentnews.com.

"It's a gift to kids — giving them the value of a dollar — because it will translate into every decision in their lives," he said.

Author at 12

The experience made Mr. Rae very entrepreneurial. He wrote a successful book, "The Autograph Collecting Guide," when he was 12, and he bought and sold sports cards for profit in his early teens, earning several thousand dollars in the process.

Where did he get the self-confidence at such an early age?

"I think I just didn't know any better that this wasn't typical. No one was telling me 'you can't do this' or 'you shouldn't do this,'" Mr. Rae said.

This same self-confidence, along with courage, would serve him well as he launched his career as an openly gay financial adviser.

Entering the field in 2003, he chose to work with Trilogy Financial Services because its entry-level training program had a financial planning component, and because of its commitment to diversity as a sponsor of local LGBT Pride festivals.

"The company had a mission to be as diverse as possible," Mr. Rae said. "I was able to be myself, which was my competitive edge."

This edge worked in several ways. Because there were so few openly gay advisers, clients flocked to him. And many straight women sought him out, finding him to be more approachable and more sensitive to the emotional side of money.

"Having a niche got me so much more media exposure," he said.

His visibility at high-profile LGBT charity events led to opportunities to write for the Advocate, Huffington Post and Forbes, and appear on local TV news shows and the "Today" show.

After 14 years at Trilogy, Mr. Rae decided it was time to go out on his own, opening a practice in 2017 in order to be fee-only, leverage his own brand and be entrepreneurial with more overall flexibility in his practice.

His instincts were right. His revenue jumped 50% because of a "flood" of new clients, Mr. Rae said. Contributing to the growth was his newfound ability to customize his website (adding, for example, a "Click here to call" button) and gain increased publicity.

"I also started getting stronger referrals because as I told my story to clients they started rooting for me as a business owner and a friend," he said.

LGBT clients face some special challenges, even though marriage equality is now the law of the land. These include, in some cases, planning for retirement without children; finding appropriate health care for HIV-related conditions, which influences where one can live and work; and discrimination in retirement communities.

Getting a same-sex couple to plan together financially also can be a big issue.

"After 20 to 30 years of not looking at their finances together, without having to file their taxes together, some couples never took the steps to get on the same page as a household. As a result, they may have lost out on tax benefits and saving," Mr. Rae said.

How can mainstream advisers attract LGBT clients? Reach out to them, he said.

"You don't have to be in a big city to work with them. You'll get more bang for your buck in smaller areas where people are much more concerned about discrimination," he said. "In some states, people can still be fired, denied services, denied housing for being gay."

Deborah Nason is a freelance writer

This story is part of an ongoing initiative by InvestmentNews to cultivate a financial advice profession in which diverse perspectives are welcomed and respected, and industry best practices can be shared across organizations.

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