In Focus: Vulnerability  

It's okay to admit you're vulnerable

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Advisers have always been a source of security for clients through turbulent times, and particularly so in the year of the pandemic. 

Advisers have spoken of all-hours calls from clients, terrified by sudden and sharp drops in their portfolios.

Others cited a rush of applications for life insurance, income protection and wills and probate services as the first lockdown began on March 16, 2020. 

Mortgage borrowers sought support from their brokers and advisers as lockdown dragged on, with no certainty over when they might be able to move home or even if the lending criteria would tighten against them. 

Self-employed clients inundated their tax and pension advisers with requests for help; first as furlough schemes were extended and pension holidays granted, and then as many businesses felt the pinch from depleted incomes.

And the advice industry answered: manning the phones with extended hours; providing additional information, communications and emails; and seeking different ways to keep in contact with clients.

On top of this, there have been stories of advisers going above and beyond to deliver food or electronic tablets to their more isolated clients. Some even became 'couriers' to pick up their clients' prescriptions.

Charity foundations were created to help fight Covid-19 and to help boost local charities for whom the usual fundraising avenues had been closed.

The Personal Finance Society has cited advisers doing thousands of hours of pro-bono work as more Britons became financially vulnerable and the need for savings and basic money guidance escalated. 

Amid all this, advisers became not just a source of financial information but also a point of stability, security and in many cases, a strong shoulder to cry on. 

Given all this, it would be tempting to consider advisers as invincible; you know this is not the case. 

You have your own worries over your business prospects as we head into 2021. Some firms have had to furlough staff; FTAdviser has already reported on some mid-to-large sized firms having to make some support staff redundant. 

Nobody knows what will be the longer-term economic effects of Brexit or the Covid-19 response.

The future of the advice industry itself seems to be in the balance as the Treasury's review into UK financial services (post-European Union) is awaited, as well as the results of the Financial Conduct Authority's call for input into the consumer investment market. 

With FCA and Financial Services Compensation Scheme costs on the rise, alongside a tightening professional indemnity market, advice fees may have to rise again this year and thereby exacerbate the advice gap; or even push some firms out of business. These are all reasonable concerns for adviser-owners. 

Then there are personal worries. Lockdown's enforced isolation is known to have already adversely affected people's mental health in the UK.