Financial hub Gretel has launched a guide for advisers to help guide clients through the ongoing pandemic and beyond.
According to the hub, founded by IntelliTeq to help connect customers with their lost pension or investment assets, the fact that nearly 24m people have been identified by the Financial Conduct Authority as potentially vulnerable means this is a "priority" for the financial industry to consider this year.
In a statement, Gretel said: "The re-definition of vulnerability by the FCA and the vast number of people – approximately 24m– who are now considered vulnerable make it among the most pressing priorities to be addressed in financial institutions in 2021."
Responding to this, it has published a digital guide, called 'Supporting Vulnerable Customers', to help intermediaries guide their clients through the choppy waters caused by the coronavirus pandemic and general economic uncertainty.
According to the guide, while Covid-19 has accelerated the trend for people to conduct more of their financial and other business online, it has also exacerbated people's financial fragility.
Citing the FCA's work on identifying vulnerability and what it expects of financial services, the guide put forward three practical steps companies can take to make sure their culture is one that supports vulnerable customers.
It said: "There are three practical dimensions that firms need to put in place in order to implement a fundamental change in culture: People, Process and Technology."
- People: All members of staff, not just leaders, should be empowered with the responsibility for protecting vulnerable customers.
- Processes: The fair treatment of vulnerable customers should be embedded in processes throughout the consumer journey.
- Technology: Firms should consider how their technology can provide the tools to ensure vulnerable customers are treated equally
Gretel has also claimed that, in the UK there is more than £50bn in unclaimed assets. "That’s pensions, savings, bank accounts, life insurance and countless other financial products that have been lost or forgotten about by their rightful owners, many of whom are in the vulnerable category."
Helping customers to reconnect with dormant or lost accounts in 2021 could go a long way to helping restore some financial stability for many Britons, the guide claimed.
The guide can be downloaded for free from: https://intelliteq.hubspotpagebuilder.com/supporting-vulnerable-customers-a-digital-guide.