How advisers are dealing with vulnerable clients

How advisers are dealing with vulnerable clients

Research into how advisers work with vulnerable clients has shown an overwhelming majority have specific procedures for advising people in cognitive decline.

Prudential's survey of 101 financial advisers nationwide found 72 per cent of firms have rules in place for dealing with older and vulnerable clients, while 47 per cent train staff to spot the signs of cognitive impairment.

However, the research found nearly 17 per cent of firms have no specific processes for dealing with or spotting issues with cognitive decline, while 27 per cent said the assess client issues on a case-by-case basis.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: "It is impressive that advisers are increasing support for vulnerable clients and are developing processes to protect the interests of older clients including providing training for staff of spotting signs of cognitive decline.

"More, however, needs to be done as it is certain that cognitive decline and its impact on the advice market will continue to grow increasing the responsibility for advisers to respond."

Ant Scammell, service development director at Quilter, said the objective at Quilter Private Client is for advisers to make financial advice accessible and appropriate for all clients.

He said advisers at the firm must go through a training programme to ensure they can identify vulnerability and know how to support those clients.

Mr Scammell said: "Vulnerable clients are more prevalent than people often think and so our advisers are trained to consider the vulnerability of a client not just at the point of the original recommendation but as part of any interaction.

"If a client is considered vulnerable advisers must evidence that extra care has been taken to ensure that the client understands their recommendation fully and all discussions are documented carefully. Supporting vulnerable customers is a priority for Quilter and we are working to develop an awareness kit for advisers."

The Prudential survey also found 43 per cent of firms monitor for signs of unusual or concerning behaviour among clients, while 14 per cent of firms will refer clients showing signs of cognitive decline to specialist advisers.

It also found 42 per cent of firms have adopted rules that include insisting third parties, such as younger family members or legal representatives, attend any meetings with clients who are considered vulnerable.

The research coincides with the Innovation on Ageing industry competition, which was formed in January 2018 with the objective of identifying and supporting the development of products that will address the challenges faced by ageing consumers at risk of vulnerability.

The campaign was launched by Just Group and The International Longevity Centre UK in response to the FCA's scrutiny of how financial services companies are addressing vulnerability.

David Sinclair, director of ILC-UK, said: "Innovating for Ageing was set up to ensure the best new ideas are applied to problems known to have the worst impact on vulnerable older people. The response has been superb, as has been the quality of submissions received."