How to work with professional peers over vulnerability

This article is part of
Guide to advising vulnerable clients

How to work with professional peers over vulnerability

At a basic level, advice firms must have set out their own approach to vulnerability and keep policies and documentation under regular review.

This is according to Stephen Lowe, group communications director for Just Group, who explains this necessitates regular discussion with other third parties.

He continues: “This needs to consider the role of third parties who are often involved, such as the relatives, carers, attorneys and deputies, as well as professionals such as lawyers.

“In a country with an ageing population, the later life market is growing, and firms need to decide whether it is a business priority or should be referred to a trusted third party.”

Proper communication

Making sure there is proper communication is vital, as well as ensuring safe and secure sharing of relevant information, where permitted under data protection legislation, is important.

According to Tony Gammon, director and head of client services for Thesis Asset Management: “If working with other professionals, ensure they are briefed properly.

“Allow extra time for meetings and make sure you are both straightforward, allowing the client plenty of ‘thinking time’.”

Jacqueline Berry, director of My Care Consultant, says this is important especially for those in later life, as only 7 per cent of all long-term-care self-funders tend to seek appropriate and regulated, qualified advice. 

“With people being encouraged to approach the local authority for information, advice and support, there is a real and growing need for a link between information and advice in the provision of care, as well as unregulated and regulated financial advice.”

Claire Trott, head of pensions strategy for Technical Connection, says: “If clients are vulnerable, it is key that all their advisers, in each area, are acting in the same way.

“It is important the client and anyone involved in their support are fully aware of the implications of each professional’s action.”

Mr Gammon adds: “Other financial professionals should have a vulnerable clients policy and similar concerns.”

For example, the Law Society also issued a paper on vulnerable clients in 2015. 

At the time, the Law Society stated: “Some clients have difficulty accessing and using legal services. 

“Research has concluded that solicitors need to adapt their practices to identify and meet the needs of vulnerable clients.”

According to the Law Society, some 9 per cent of a law firm’s client base might be categorised as ‘vulnerable’. When it comes to dealing with vulnerable situations – divorce, death, bereavement –speaking openly with the client’s legal advisers will be beneficial to the client and the wider family.

Speaking with legal professionals can also help with will writing, probate and services involving a deputy or someone with the power of attorney.

Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society, comments: “Given the dynamic and highly personal nature of vulnerability, advisers may or may not need the help of professionals when it comes to dealing with individual vulnerable clients.”