St James's Place  

SJP to roll out vulnerable customer training to advisers

SJP to roll out vulnerable customer training to advisers

St James’s Place will roll out vulnerable customer training for advisers across its wealth management business.

The training programme, designed by Altus with input from the Financial Conduct Authority, is “an exclusive e-learning solution”, according to the FTSE 100 company.

Delivered through a series of online modules, SJP employees will receive a “comprehensive understanding” of how they can identify and support clients who are coping with characteristics of vulnerability.

In 2023, the FCA plans to evaluate what action firms have taken to improve outcomes experienced by vulnerable consumers. 

Jonathan Warren, Altus’ head of innovation, said vulnerable customers “must remain at the forefront of the industry’s mind”.

He continued: “With a 2023 deadline set by the FCA, financial services providers must act now.”

The FCA said it would assess firms against its understanding of what firms do now and intelligence gathered through supervisory work.

Warren said Altus’ training series was “a scalable and cost-effective solution” to the FCA’s incoming assessments.

In an interview with FTAdviser, Ben Hammond, platforms director at Altus, highlighted how responsibility for vulnerable customers equally falls on advised investment platforms as it does advisers.

He said as long as platforms can capture the right data early on by working with advisers, the transition to better outcomes for vulnerable customers should be quicker “than a lot of other things”.

“It’s all in the data,” said Hammond. “Platforms need to identify vulnerable customers in the right way, but it is hard to quantify it.”

Hammond said platforms “shouldn’t need to change their underlying platforms”. Instead, they will need to understand how they can report on behalf of such clients, to avoid any slipping through the cracks.

The consultancy’s initial research on the topic, which began earlier this year, found “things definitely moving in the right direction”, according to Hammond.

“Ratings used to be lower than expected and firms didn’t realise how much there was still to do.”

Alongside this new vulnerable customer training, SJP has also rolled out a virtual reality technology for training and role-playing across the business, allowing it to increase academy numbers this year. 

It is currently being used by academy delegates, allowing them to practice client meetings, fact finding and building rapport with clients.

Trainees are provided with headsets that allow them to experience the role of an adviser and engage in conversations with virtual clients through a series of multiple-choice questions. 

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com