Unless the government grasps the nettle and starts to tackle the thorny issue of long-term care, too many Britons will be financially unprepared for it, Tish Hanifan has warned.
Speaking to FTAdviser In Focus for the latest Fireside Chat, the founder and joint chair of the Society of Later Life Advisers said it was vital for individuals to make sure that, if they need care, they have set some money aside to help pay for that eventuality.
This is even more pertinent given the lack of clarity from the government about how it will tackle the thorny issue of long-term care, and who has to fund it – and to what extent.
She said: "There have been numerous inquiries and consultations and I have been lucky enough to have been asked to be involved in some of them.
"But nothing has happened."
While there is a health and care bill currently going through parliament, which will bring in integrated care services, she said the "jury was still out", because it is about the integration of the provision of services, not the funding thereof.
"Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Number 10 and said he was going to solve the care problem. Nothing has happened," Hanifan added. "It should not be a party political issue."
While it is an unpopular topic, and certainly difficult to 'sell' to the public the idea that they – not the state – will have to pay for their later-life care, it is something the government and the industry need to get to grips with.
Hanifan said we need an apolitical party, led by an independent person, to state how much individuals would need to put towards their own care bill, and in what circumstances.
On the subject of the pandemic, Hanifan said there had been many challenges for advisers and clients during Covid-19, not least the fact she, like many others, "lives in the world that broadband forgot".
In addition to advisers needing to overcome the logistics of working remotely to help those clients who live in rural areas, it has also forced them to adapt and improve their soft skills.
Hanifan said: "It's not about having the right knowledge; it's about being the right person."
Covid has also led to more work for many financial advisers, especially around end-of-life care planning, Hanifan added.
She explained: "Initially, everyone tried to readjust and as time went on and it became clear it was not a few weeks' change to our lifestyles, one of the things that has become obvious is that people are now having conversations they may never have had before.
"It sounds grim but the vulnerability of people [amid Covid] became more apparent. The pandemic has made more people talk more about these topics with their families and advisers. It has made them more aware of [the need for ] later-life planning, and helping them think about what they want their latter years to be.