Who gives sex workers solid financial advice on all the money they earn?
Not many financial advisors.
And that could be a big missed opportunity: “There’s value in working with stigmatized groups and in markets that aren’t too saturated,” says Lindsey Swanson, founder of Stripper Financial Planning, whose clientele is exclusively sex workers, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor. .
“There are millions of people working in sex who need financial advice and don’t get it,” she says.
The paid certified financial planner, who charges a fixed monthly fee of $350, plans for her clients “as if they were athletes,” she explains.
Both groups typically have short-lived primary careers, as demand for their services is highest and earnings highest when they are in their 20s and 30s.
In addition to prostitutes, sex workers include people in the adult entertainment industry, such as strippers, actors, and creators of pornography; escorts; sugar babies – i.e. paid sex companions – and more.
Swanson’s clients are all of the above – and all of them work legally. The majority are women, or “female presenters,” as she puts it. Her clientele includes gay, transgender, and non-binary people, as well as straight men.
In order for Swanson to acquire a prostitute as a client, they must work where prostitution is legal; in the United States, this means only the State of Nevada.
In the interview, Swanson says that when sex workers first come to see her, most are new to the concept of financial planning in general, let alone tax planning, estate planning and investing.
The 29-year-old CFP covers all these aspects, as well as the importance of accurately declaring income, which she stresses is essential for later claiming Social Security.
The RIA also ensures that clients track all work-related expenses eligible for tax deductions; and she tells them about ways to reduce taxable income, like setting up an individual 401(k) plan or an IRA.
After four years of employment as an investment analyst and financial advisor in traditional financial services companies, including statement Financial Group and TCI Wealth Advisors, Swanson opened her own virtual practice only in 2020 for “people who experience discrimination,” she says.
The customers were largely from Northern California’s highly profitable cannabis industry.
The following year, she narrowed her niche to sex workers, many of whom had been met through clients, and changed the name of her business from Shelter Cove Financial to one specific to sex workers so that prospects feel comfortable approaching her.
A big part of Swanson’s goal is to help clients once they begin to age out of sex work – due to its physical demands and demands – transition into allied work in the industry, such as coaching.
But some customers use the money they redistribute to get into a totally different business, like fashion; many go to school to become nurses, according to Swanson.
Unsurprisingly, the adviser, whose podcast sports the double-meaning title “A scoop of vanilla“, encountered problems with a number of business contacts. Given the direction of his business, they no longer want to be ‘associated’ with Swanson because they fear they will offend their ‘conservative clients’.
But Swanson predicts that in the future it will be “pretty normal” for people working in financial services to work with sex workers because “there are profits to be made there”, she says.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Swanson by phone from its base in a coastal town in Humboldt County, California.
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: Why did you start Stripper Financial Planning?
LINDSEY SWANSON: Market demand. Many advisers and accountants stay away from people who work in sex because it’s a gray area: they don’t want to have to dig into what’s legal and what’s not. .
I legitimize something that exists legally but that people don’t talk about publicly.
Do sex workers think they need financial advice?
Many of them find it difficult to talk to professionals because their work is stigmatized.
There is therefore no one to turn to for questions such as taxes. So they don’t take advantage of tax deductions because they don’t want to be on the radar even though what they’re doing is legal.
What does “sex work” cover?
It’s a broad spectrum and includes creators – like people working on OnlyFans [platform focused on creating pornographic content]strippers, escorts, sugar babies.
It’s the porn industry in general. So I also work with actors and models in adult films.
Why would a sugar baby need a financial advisor?
Many sex workers have no friends or family to talk to about their finances.
So if a 19 year old [sugar baby] has a 50 year old boyfriend who [pays] her X amount each month and spends it willy-nilly, she needs someone to say, “It’s cool that he offered to buy you a Range Rover, but if you asked to pay your tuition instead?”
Does your clientele include prostitutes?
Absoutely. But they have to do it legally.
In places where it’s not legal, sex work looks like a lot of different things, like escorting or being a paid girlfriend.
Why did you choose the sex worker customer niche?
I used to work for traditional companies with older, retired clients who had millions of dollars.
[For my own firm]I wanted to work with stigmatized people who weren’t being served, and I was open to who that would be.
Do you create financial plans for your clients?
I do comprehensive financial planning. We look at the big picture: maybe you earn more than you would in a desk job; but after getting paid, what does your profit actually look like?
The majority of sex workers are self-employed. They declare their income from multiple sources and have variable incomes.
How often do you have individual meetings?
Eevery month, guiding them through 12 different topics that cover the whole financial picture.
What are you doing for them in the area of tax planning?
I tell them that throughout the year they need to know how much they earn and from what sources, so they know how much to set aside to pay estimated quarterly taxes.
If they receive cash tips, they should keep track of them. The IRS requires a daily log. And they have to track all of their expenses by job.
Can they benefit from tax deductions for, for example, special clothing or the like?
If it’s job specific, like if you’re a stripper and you buy a wig just to wear to a club, or buy sex toys to make a video.
If you bought a dildo for this, you can deduct it. It’s like needing something for your office.
Like a stapler.
Yeah, like a stapler.
What if a client feels they can’t prepare their own tax return?