The LGBT+ community has made remarkable progress toward equality in recent years, yet obstacles remain – including polarities in personal finance. Studies have shown that LGBT+ Americans are less likely than the general population to have accomplished various financial goals such as saving for retirement, having an IRA, or having even a basic checking account.
StartOut member Rob Curtis (he/him), CEO and co-founder of Daylight, saw a need within his own community and decided to create a solution. Through Daylight, the first digital bank for LGBT+ people, he set out to provide a service and the support needed for the queer community to become financially successful. “We’ve reached a point in our community where we’re visible but there are still systemic problems in society that we need to overcome.” Even things like homeownership and retirement are things that LGBT+ people are 40% less likely to achieve. “When you put yourself in the shoes of the queer experience, growing up we didn’t think there was a future to be had, so we spent everything we earned instead of planning for a financial future.”
Daylight Chief of Staff and co-founder, Billie Simmons (she/her), has used her own experience as a trans woman looking for financial support. “Using the skills I’ve built up over time as a way to help the LGBT+ community has always been a part of our process in building Daylight.” A process that included figuring out what is broken about money for LGBT+ people, what is systemic discrimination, what is lifestyle differences, and what is infrastructure issues. “It’s clear that we’ve struck a chord in terms of why an LGBT+ bank is needed and get to the root cause of the problem and then explain in it in a way that folks can understand.”
So Rob and Billie sat down to think about what an LGBT+ bank would look like without “rainbow washing” the banking experience. Instead of performative allyship to the community, Daylight provides support and programs designed for LGBT+ folk across the spectrum from the onset of signing up for their services. As Billie explained, “What we’re seeing is people have these aspirations to have a child, or to transition, or buy a home, and they haven’t thought about the costs of those things, and those are the things we can help people solve.”
A part of the Daylight mission is to help their members lead fulfilling lives, just as their founders have experienced while creating this digital banking platform. “I feel very fortunate as an entrepreneur to build a company like this,” confessed Rob, “it’s become my life’s mission to improve the lives of LGBTQ people.” Having a similar sentiment, Billie expressed, “It’s just been really great to see it resonating with LGBT people and them being excited about it. This is the most meaningful work I’ve ever done.”