Helping you do the right thing
Customer vulnerability can have many different causes, from job loss to debt and disability. In each case, it’s always important to ensure fair treatment and look for effective ways to help customers fully understand any financial decision they make.
With an ageing population, it’s worth noting that vulnerability tends to increase as we get older. The FCA’s Financial Lives Survey 2017 reveals 53% of 65 to 75 year olds are more likely to demonstrate characteristics of vulnerability, rising to 77% for those aged 85 and over. So it’s clear that customers may need special attention as they journey into later life.
If you need to know more about identifying and dealing with vulnerable customers, the FCA has produced this report which aims to provide better understanding alongside steps you can take to provide practical help.
In the meantime, we’ve put together the following suggestions designed to provide a helping hand when it comes to vulnerable customers. Bear in mind that vulnerability does take many forms, so please treat this as a guide as opposed to advice.
- Get them to speak to family and friends: whether it’s helping to explain options more clearly or simply lending emotional support, those closest to a vulnerable client can be an invaluable source of assistance.
- Consider power of attorney: those clients unable to make financial decisions for themselves may well benefit from a power of attorney appointed to act on their behalf.
- Discuss independent legal advice: professional legal support from a qualified third party can help a vulnerable client fully understand any agreement they are entering into and how it will affect them now and in the future.
- Get someone else involved: if you feel your client is in a vulnerable situation which could affect their decision making, then offer to involve a third party of their choice.
- Take time out: suggest your client takes extra time to consider your recommendation before taking any further action.
What makes a customer vulnerable?
Vulnerable customers come in all shapes and sizes, but here are some typical examples to look out for.
Losing a loved one
Jenny’s husband has recently passed way. Adding to her distress are financial worries which she wants to get sorted as soon as possible. As a result, she’s thinking about releasing equity in her home and applying for a mortgage.
Losing a loved one can be a difficult time. So it’s important that any financial decisions are talked through and fully understood. In this case, getting Jenny to speak to her family and friends about the reasons behind taking out a mortgage could help her make a more informed choice. Suggesting someone accompanies her to appointments can also provide valuable support.
Mental health problems
With retirement on the horizon, Steve would like to review his finances. As someone who’s suffered mental health problems in the past, however, he can be susceptible to stress – especially if he feels things are out of his control.
Mental health problems are more common than many of us realise, with one in four adults experiencing at least one mental disorder a year. Depending on the needs of your client, any or all of the suggested ways to support them could be put in place.
Charlie and Pat have come to the end of their mortgage term. As yet, however, they haven’t managed to repay all of their capital balance. They originally planned to do this by selling their home but instead would now like to stay there and perhaps release some equity for their grandchildren.
Seeking independent legal advice in this situation could help the couple when it comes to releasing money for their grandchildren. Later life clients may also want to consider power of attorney to ensure their best interests are protected. As with many vulnerable customers, speaking to family and friends can also give valuable insights into their circumstances.
The inside track from Jaedon Green
Our Director of Products & Distribution, Jaedon Green, explores what to look out for and what actions to take when it comes to helping vulnerable customers.