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Use an unregulated care adviser to sort out care funding

Nicola Taylor

Nicola Taylor

Advisers often say that they are ‘involved’ in care because “as clients get older care fees became a necessary part of financial planning”.

As a financial adviser many of your clients are likely to be 50 or above - not old at all. And it may not be just your clients who are ageing.

But as our ageing population grows, care need is something that we are all likely to face, if not for a client then in our own personal lives.

Often it is only when something happens to a family member that we try to navigate a fragmented and complex care and benefit system; with little or no previous experience it can be time-consuming and overwhelming.

So, are you ready?

Care fees are expensive and fewer people are qualifying for social care support.

Currently nearly 50 per cent of people self-fund their care with a quarter running out of money and having to fall back to the Local Authority.

Not many people seek financial advice while choosing care and even fewer qualify for fully-funded NHS Continuing Healthcare.

The right care starts with the right advice and making sure that appropriate care arrangements are made from the outset is vital.

A recent FT Adviser article said: “Several advice companies face litigation after failing to consider the fully-funded NHS continuing healthcare option that clients with care needs could benefit from".

My question is: "How?"

Even with a care funding qualification how can advisers who do not specialise in care adequately consider all funding options: NHS Funding (Continuing Healthcare, FNC, Section 117, joint agreements), Local Authority Charging (DPA's, Top Ups, Wealth Depletion and Consumer Law) and Department of Work and Pensions benefit eligibility?

Telling advisers they must check all funding options is an unfair and unrealistic requirement, in my opinion.

Online resources can not fully meet a knowledge gap and a ‘later life’ title does not make a care expert.

The main issue for advisers is often time, or lack of it.

Busy earning a living and satisfying CPD requirements means there are not enough hours in the day to keep up to keep up to date with everything.

In addition, advisers are not always aware of a need for a care conversation or they may be reluctant to engage in one because of a lack of knowledge or confidence in the subject.

Not all care conversations require regulated advice, most do not need to start with it and with demand significantly outweighing the number of specialist regulated financial advisers it is neither appropriate nor achievable.

More than 80 per cent of the advice can be provided by an unregulated care funding adviser and using the expertise of unregulated advisers who can quality assure their advice should be considered good practice.

Without question, care fees planning needs an intergenerational advice approach from both regulated and unregulated financial advisers to provide a comprehensive, joined up advice provision to satisfy client and regulatory requirements.