2 min

Couples can’t get bank loans

Financial institutions love being rigid

Enter most banks and you are likely to see shiny posters of smiling het couples buying a home, conventional nuclear families sending their daughter off to college or young newly-weds speeding off with a car loan.

In the May 1 issue of Marketing Magazine, writer Astrid Van Den Broek argues that this lack of homo representation is a big financial mistake.

Writes Van Den Broek: “Considering many gays and lesbians are

professionals with healthy disposable incomes, targeting the community would seem to be a natural for financial services. Yet, so far, there seems to be very little activity.”

Despite some attempts at sponsorship of gay and lesbian events, she argues that financial institutions remain reluctant to recognize duel incomes when same-sex couples apply for joint mortgages. Banks are equally timid about advertising in community papers or using images of alternative families.

“Some believe that the first financial institution to show leadership in this regard will win the goodwill of a community proven to be loyal to gay-friendly companies,” she writes.

However Van Den Broek neglects to mention that credit unions are already showing leadership – and possibly winning that goodwill.

The current edition of Toronto’s Metro Credit Union newsletter features a cover picture of a gay couple smiling in front of their new home, purchased with a Metro mortgage.

“We have many same-sex households, as well as single gay and lesbian members and staff, and we wanted to do something representative,” says vice-president of development Larry Gordon, who supervised that newsletter.

Although there are no statistics on queer credit union membership, Gordon claims to have heard word of mouth appreciation from the community about the comfort of doing business at Metro.

“If you walk into one of our branches looking for a mortgage there is

nothing special about the situation. It’s dealt with as it should be –

just two people applying for a loan together.

As for the newsletter: “We have received many goodwill calls and e-mails. The only negative note was posted on our website and quickly countered by a positive response. Many people in the Credit Union don’t even bother to respond, as it’s a non issue to them.”

Metro staff member Kevin Dingwall posed with his partner Greg Bagnell. He’s been on staff for more than 10 years and has received full spousal benefits since 1992, something Bagnell’s company still doesn’t offer.

After the newsletter came out, Metro CEO Howard Bogash went to see Dingwall: “He said that he hadn’t realized how courageous it was to pose for the picture and he just wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me.”