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How medical data might transform advice

How medical data might transform advice

There will come a time when advisers will have to know their client’s health profile as well as their risk profile, according to a fintech expert.

Ian McKenna, founder of the Financial Technology Research Centre, said there was a “huge amount of information” becoming readily available which would allow advisers to give clients more personal, in-depth financial planning based on their medical data.

Speaking at the 7IM 2020 Summit last week (February 7), Mr McKenna said advisers would soon have to ask their client for consent to access their health data, DNA, medical records and even supermarket purchases.

Mr McKenna said this information would then be sent back to the adviser in a detailed analysis with an estimated timeline of when life events, such as having children, would occur as well as life expectancy.

He said there was already a firm in the US which looked at the details of each grandparent — alongside the client’s level of education and location — to predict when life events would take place.

Mr McKenna said: “This organisation mapped 18 different events which caused financial need through the lifetime of these people. This means advisers will be able to say: ‘Here’s the 18 things you need to supply for, how shall we do this?’

“This kind of analysis can move financial planning from an art to a science.”

He put the driving force behind this progress down to “tremendous changes in healthcare”.

Mr McKenna told the conference about new discoveries which could identify eight types of cancer by non-invasive liquid tests, breath biopsies which could test for another selection of illnesses and research which showed the likelihood of various health issues based on other events.

For example, Mr McKenna said new research showed women who went into menopause under 40 were twice as likely to have a cardiac incident before the age of 60.

He added: “This is all information you can put into very personal financial planning. It’s the merging of health and wealth.

“In a world where we are all living longer, if you can’t understand your client’s health, how can you manage your client’s wealth?”

Darren Cooke, a chartered financial planner and Red Circle Financial Planning, said: “While I think this may be possible, I don't think it is likely. 

“Making presumptions based on an individual's personal or family medical history is exceptionally difficult and dangerous. I wouldn't want to be the adviser telling a client we will only plan for you to reach age 75 because that's when we think you will die. 

“What happens if they then live to 80 or more but have spent all their money?”

Mr Cooke added the medical profession had previously been very guarded about personal medical data to ensure any such detail on health was delivered by a properly trained medical professional.

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