In Focus: Vulnerability  

Hundreds of advisers adopt PFS vulnerability charter

Hundreds of advisers adopt PFS vulnerability charter
Keith Richards, chief executive of PFS

Hundreds of advisers have adopted the Personal Finance Society's newly launched Financial Vulnerability Charter in a move hailed as an industry "stepping up with a plan of action". 

Since the professional body launched its charter in January, 350 advisers have committed to its nine core pledges.

The charter forms part of the PFS’s independent financial vulnerability taskforce, which aims to support the profession to better recognise and address the various forms of consumer vulnerability, improve client outcomes and increase access to financial advice.

Advisers who sign up to the charter are expected to display the commitment on their website. Pledges include putting the client's interests above commercial interests and adapting services to meet the needs of vulnerable consumers.

Keith Richards, chief executive of the PFS and chairman of the taskforce, said by committing to the charter advisers were accepting their "heightened professional obligations" towards clients in vulnerable circumstances. 

He added: "It is great to see so many individuals commit to this consumer initiative and adopt the charter to improve outcomes for clients in vulnerable circumstances, regardless of their identity, age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, and pledging to guard against making assumptions about the characteristics of individuals." 

Financial advisers who wish to adopt the taskforce charter must complete an online application form, and registration will be renewed on an annual basis. 

The PFS said advisers should be prepared to provide evidence of how they are committed to the charter as part of a random audit.

Robin Melley, adviser at Matrix Capital Limited and part of the committee, said the industry was "very aware of the devastating impact" of fraud and consumers.

Melley said: "As somebody involved in researching and combatting this terrible issue I am delighted to support this initiative.

"The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce is a great example of a professional body stepping up with a plan of action to fight back against this issue which will have massive benefits for everybody in our society.

"I would encourage all involved with financial advice and planning to sign up to this initiative, there is no excuse for ignoring this initiative if we want to tackle and prevent scams and fraud."

Laura Thursfield, leader of the Birmingham financial planning team at Mazars, committed to following the taskforce charter and said the profession had a duty to ensure it was able to recognise "all aspects of vulnerability".

Thursfield added: "[It must also] act in a way that ensures a sense of security is not compromised, alongside actively working to remove any barriers that prevent individuals from seeking advice and support.

"It is a privilege to support this initiative and I would encourage all members of the profession to sign up to the charter."

The Financial Conduct Authority has sharpened its focus on vulnerable clients over the past few years, warning in July 2020 that vulnerability was sometimes “not considered by firms or positively exploited for gain".