Advisers prioritising vulnerability but need help with identifying – more2life

Eighty-four per cent of equity release advisers believe recognising vulnerable clients is one of their biggest priorities, according to a new study by more2life, although just 12% believe it is easy to identify these clients.

more2life also revealed that 94% of advisers regard it “very important” to have an understanding of issues surrounding vulnerability.

The findings were based on three tranches of research among almost 600 equity release advisers which took place in October 2018, July 2019 and March 2020.

When asked how they would best describe the vulnerable clients they had advised over the past 12 months, more2life found that 52% of advisers said their clients were of advanced age.

More than four in ten (42%) indicated their clients had significant financial worries, while 37% said that their clients had experienced life-changing events which had contributed to their vulnerability. Just 8% of advisers said their vulnerable clients had been diagnosed with a mental health illness, while 9% said that they had caring responsibilities, more2life added.

The equity release adviser said its research suggests that while advisers are able to spot the most obvious signs of potential vulnerability, such as age, they need more support to recognise the more subtle signs of vulnerability.

more2life highlighted FCA figures that show 1.5 million more adults are showing characteristics of vulnerability since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While much still needs to be done, the fact that the significant majority of advisers understand the importance of recognising vulnerability is a positive step but it’s clear that they need more support in this area so they can better serve their clients,” commented more2life CEO, Dave Harris.

“It is vital for advisers to be able to confidently identify vulnerable customers and understand the challenges they face.

“Educational resources and practical guidance for advisers on techniques they can use as part of the advice process is crucial – especially when face-to-face meetings are not possible – to ensure they feel confident to spot and support vulnerable clients.

“Now more than ever, advisers need greater clarity and support, which is why more2life strongly welcomes the worth that the FCA is doing on vulnerability as they work to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for older customers.”

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