Wells Fargo Advisors LGBT Insight: What is the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor Designation

Jason McDonald, Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor and Vice President Investment Officer, Wells Fargo Advisors in Austin, Texas, addresses the unique financial challenges faced by domestic partners. This is the fifth article in a continuing series.


When I tell someone that I hold the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA) designation, I usually get one of three responses: “What is that” “I didn’t know that existed.” “Why would someone need that” The ADPA designation is fairly new and not many people are familiar with it.

The ADPA designation was created jointly by Wells Fargo Advisors and the College for Financial Planning, to help financial advisors address the unique financial needs and considerations of domestic partnerslesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual clientsas they plan for their financial future. Heterosexual couples who have chosen not to marry may wish to consider an ADPA-designated advisor as well. Since there is no legal recognition for domestic partners under federal law, the “rules” that apply to married heterosexual couples are not the same as those that apply to domestic partners. The ADPA program helps to educate financial advisors on some of those differences and also provides a resource for those in a domestic partnership to identify the few financial advisors who have been trained and certified on key issues affecting domestic partners.

To be able to use the ADPA designation, financial advisors must pass a rigorous examination, abide by standards of professional conduct, comply with self-disclosure requirements regarding their professional conduct, and complete 16 continuing-education hours within the two-year authorization period. To be eligible for the ADPA designation, they must also hold at least one additional designation or certification as well. (The complete list can be found at www.cffpinfo.com/adpa.html.)

An ADPA designee can assist you in evaluating your financial situation and help you with an investment plan that addresses your specific needs. He or she can also assist with retirement planning, wealth transfers, tax-efficient strategies, and end-of-life needs for domestic partners.

Couples in a domestic partnership can face a number of unique challenges when it comes to investment planning and planning for their financial future. Lack of federal protections and differing laws from state-to-state have created a very complex financial picture for same-sex couples. The landscape is already changing at a breakneck paceand with the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 this month, the picture could become even murkier.

Partnering with a financial advisor who holds the ADPA designation could be a great way for domestic partners to prepare for complex issues like retirement and wealth-transfer planning, and is something we’d encourage they consider in the future.

Wells Fargo Advisors is not a tax or legal advisor. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and separate nonbank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company, No. 25 on the 2013 DiversityInc Top 50.

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