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Adviser training on vulnerable clients launched

Adviser training on vulnerable clients launched

A training tool has been launched to help advisers identify and service vulnerable customers.

Just Group has partnered with the Society of Later Life Advisers to develop an interactive training module which helps advisers understand what constitutes vulnerability and how to deal with the problems that arise from it.

The Older and Vulnerable Consumer Training Tool is the first training and development module specifically focused on consumer vulnerability, which is under increasing scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority.

An industry survey published in February by Just Group found almost two-thirds of financial intermediaries expected identifying and protecting vulnerable consumers to become an activity "formally supervised" by the FCA in the next five years.

Just Group and Solla hope the interactive tool will help change working practices to ensure firms can deliver extra care and support for clients when it is needed.

Advisers who complete the module will gain a certificate in older and vulnerable consumer care which provides a record for relevant CPD and training.

The training tool has already been recognised as a finalist in the Innovating for Ageing competition established by the International Longevity Centre UK and Just that aims to identify innovative solutions to common problems of ageing.

Research from Altus, presented at an equity release conference last month, detailed the scale and complexity of the challenge to protect vulnerable consumers as about 50 per cent of people in the UK showed characteristics of potential vulnerability.

The findings showed vulnerability was not solely an ‘age problem’ as 32 per cent of scam victims were between 25 and 34 years old and one in four adults was found to have experienced at least one mental disorder in any given year.

About 13 per cent of over 80-year olds have dementia while 70 per cent of those over 70 have hearing loss, according to Altus.

As vulnerability could also be seen as ‘lack of capability’, the research pointed out that one in seven adults had the literary skills expected of a child of 11-years while half of adults had the numeracy skills of a similar age.

Speaking at the conference, Jonathan Warren, consultant at Altus, said advisers were key in recognising vulnerability and that a continual reassessment of vulnerability was needed as consumers were increasingly likely to experience it.

Tish Hanifan, Solla’s founder and joint chairman, said: "The launch of this comprehensive training tool is timely given the increasing pressure on advisers and firms to ensure they can show their vulnerable clients are identified and dealt with fairly.

"Longer lives mean more older people are engaging with financial services and this tool helps advisers and firms build the specialist skill sets and have the processes to meet their needs. 

"This is a huge and complex subject and it is important Just Group has recognised advisers need support and is working with us."