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Gay Financial Network to launch

The network, aimed at serving the gay and lesbian community, is set to launch later this month.

After months of planning, the Gay Financial Network (GFN), geared toward serving the gay community, will launch April 24.

As reported in December, the network will leverage its appeal to the gay community, which is an increasingly attractive demographic for marketers across the board. At the same time, it will be addressing one of the hottest areas on the Net: financial services.

When Walter Schubert, founder and president of GFN parent company Schubert Group International Limited, decided to launch the network, he knew he was getting into a hot market.

But even since he announced the move, the Net financial market has experienced a boom. Nearly every site trying to become a gateway onto the Net has added a strong financial channel complete with stock tickers and message boards. And other companies have launched sites aimed at grabbing the vertical market.

At the same time, gays and lesbians have long been a strong online community with thousands of individual sites from which to choose, including a handful of full networks.

Schubert is hoping to mix his social sensibilities as a gay man who understands the needs of the gay community with his financial know-how as a third-generation member of the New York Stock Exchange.

Although many lesbians and gay men feel comfortable investing with companies that don't specifically cater to them, others seek firms that focus on specific needs such as tax and financial planning for nonmarried couples. Still others also may go to a gay-friendly site simply because they feel more comfortable with professionals accustomed to dealing with gay people without judging them.

The site will feature investments, secure online trading, an ATM debit card, access to more than 5,000 mutual funds, asset management, real-time stock quotes, online bill payment and checking, chats, message boards, and other content and features.

Partners and backers include; the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian human rights organization; PFLAG: Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbian and Gays; PlanetOut; and Gay Wired.