Where the need does exist, Mr Richards highlights some typical professional connections:
- Solicitors – such as working with advisers to help establish mental capacity.
- GPs or other suitably qualified medical professionals.
- Care advisers – to meet client needs in respect of those aspects of care advice not regulated or linked to paying for care (where qualified financial advisers’ expertise sits).
- Divorce lawyers – to help with the financial aspects of divorce settlements.
- Property management companies.
- Other organisations that can help with aspects of communication, such as the Plain English Campaign.
“In addition to professionals,” Mr Richards adds, “advisers dealing with vulnerable clients will typically come into greater contact with family members, representatives, carers, attorneys and deputies.
“An understanding of roles, responsibilities and good practice in terms of dealing with these third parties is part and parcel of firms ensuring vulnerable clients get the best possible advice, leading to good client outcomes.”
Claire Barker, managing director of Equilaw, comments: “Advisers can work with solicitors, mental health and other medical professionals to ensure the client’s best interests are always met, based on a full assessment of all of the relevant circumstances at that time.”
To do so requires full communication and proper, legal authority to disclose certain conditions.
Ms Trott advises: “It is wise to ensure authority is available between all parties, so information can be passed directly to the appropriate person or firm, to make sure all angles are covered and information is not lost because of a possible lack of understanding.”
Other financial providers
Advisers doing investment or pension planning might also need to consider the whole of a potentially vulnerable client’s financial situation.
This might involve speaking with the bank in the case of potential debts and liabilities, or with insurance companies.
Indeed, making sure clients have proper insurance in place to protect them at times of future vulnerability is a key focus for many advisers.
Nick Telfer, product and marketing director for British Friendly, comments: “When considering vulnerable clients, advisers need to remember it is not just the client himself or herself who can suffer ill health and disability.
“It can happen to their family members too, which can seriously affect someone’s ability to work if they have to look after them.”
Then there is the question of any financial complication, such as an equity release plan, to consider with certain clients, especially those in later life.
Just Group’s Mr Lowe outlines: “Where additional external support is required to deal with a specialist area such as equity release or care fees planning, advisers should consider building connections to specialists with the deep knowledge and experience [needed].
“This will ensure the vulnerable client receives the high level of service advisers demand for them.”