30% of over-55s have felt vulnerable making a financial decision – more2life

Three in 10 (30%) homeowners aged 55 and over have felt vulnerable when making a financial decision, according to a new report published by more2life.

The equity release lender also found that 81% of advisers have indicated they need more practical guidance on how to spot the signs and deal with vulnerable clients.

With the FCA consultation on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers set to close today, more2life’s report, titled Who are you calling vulnerable?, has looked into adviser and consumer attitudes to the topic.

When more2life asked homeowners aged 55 and over how they would react if their adviser offered them support because they thought they were vulnerable, three-quarters (74%) said they would be comfortable with this.

However, even though the majority of older homeowners would welcome additional support, 19% said they do not need any help while 21% said they would only welcome this assistance if it did not slow down the application process. Another 27% suggested they would question why their adviser thought they, or a family member, are vulnerable, while 8% would be ‘upset’ at being regarded as vulnerable when they are not.

Furthermore, more2life’s research found that the likelihood of vulnerability is thought to increase as people age, with two in five (40%) homeowners agreeing that, as people get older, they are more likely to be vulnerable.

The report was based on three tranches of research among almost 600 equity release advisers which took place in October 2018, July 2019 and March 2020. This research was supplemented by a consumer study on 1,400 homeowners over the age of 55, carried out by Opinionmatters in August and September 2020.

“Today’s research suggests that three-quarters of older homeowners would welcome support if they were vulnerable, which should act as a reassurance to advisers as they have these conversations with their clients,” said more2life CEO, Dave Harris.

“That said, there is still a disconnect between believing that vulnerable people need more support and being vulnerable themselves, so advisers are keen for more resources and tools to help with these tricky conversations.

“As a responsible lender, we are committed to making sure our customers are making the right decisions for the right reasons and supporting advisers in recognising vulnerability. It is for this reason that we strongly welcome the FCA’s guidance on vulnerability to ensure the best outcomes for customers in the equity release market.”

As part of the FCA’s wider ambitions to support vulnerable customers, the regulator has also proposed introducing a duty of care for those advisers helping these customers.

more2life’s research suggested that the majority (82%) of advisers support this, although many believe that it should already be part of a firm’s approach.

“Knowing how to identify and support vulnerable customers is a crucial part of any financial adviser’s role,” Key CEO, Will Hale, added.
 
“This new report by more2life deals with the elephant in the room for many advisers as it can be awkward explaining to a customer that you feel they should be considered vulnerable when they may not view themselves as such. Today’s report suggests that most customers would welcome having these conversations which should encourage more advisers to address this subject head on.”

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