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March 31, 2009

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Gay and lesbian professionals tend to be prosperous, but under-serviced by Corporate America. Recognized the need for a complete financial services Web site targeting this demographic niche, Founder Walter B. Schubert, the first openly gay member of the New York Stock Exchange, created The Gay Financial Network, Inc. in April 1998. Stocked with news on the home and office, investing and banking, and long-term financial planning, the Gay Financial Network (www.gfn.com) is perhaps the only site of its kind to deliver extensive financial services to the gay and lesbian market. The company expects approximately 100,000 users by the beginning of 2000.

A new financial player

By its own admission, GFN draws from successful models such as Zagat's guides and the Motley Fool, especially when it comes to offering a broad cross-section of financial perspectives and experiences. Yet GFN doesn't shy away from the social and political objectives inherent to its "single mission and unwavering commitment of building a strong financial community for all Gay and Lesbian Americans." The company grapples with gay-specific issues such as locating quality service providers in "gay-unfriendly" regions of the country, and finding banks and real estate offices that are receptive to gay couples.

GFN's objectives may be altruistic, but they are also lucrative. According to GFN's president, Jeffrey Newman, the gay community represents about $560 billion a year -- and GFN wants to help them spend that money. According to the company, gay and lesbian professionals often have different financial needs than other groups. For example, most gay couples don't have children, and therefore, may have more disposable income or different preferences for their retirement plans.

Strong client connections

In July 1999 GFN.com joined arms with U.S. Clearing Corp., the Boston-based brokerage services arm of Fleet Securities. U.S. Clearing Corp. now provides execution, clearing, and "touch-tone" account access services for GFN Investments, which is GFN's online brokerage unit. In October 1999, GFN.com also teamed up with Telebank, one of the nation's largest Internet banks, to form the "GFN Online Banking Center." According to insiders, GFN's continuing success may be attributed to its respectability within both gay and straight communities.

Vault.com works in partnership with the Gay Financial Network.

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