Introducing the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce
The last 18 months or so have been really challenging for many people and across different elements of our lives. A spotlight has been focused on many circumstances that previously may not have been there. These circumstances may include poor or deteriorating mental health, unexpected bereavement, illnesses that couldn’t be treated, the threat of our own and children’s livelihoods as well as being cut off from our loved ones entirely.
In financial services, these circumstances, which are not limited are referred as vulnerable circumstances.
What does Vulnerable Circumstances mean?
The Financial Conduct Authority defines a client who may be in a vulnerable circumstance as;
‘Someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm’
In reality, these types of vulnerable circumstances have always been there and many of us may have experienced one or more of the above challenges in our lives. Regarding financial planning, being in a vulnerable circumstance can lead us to be less able to make our usual good financial decisions, feel or be pressured about making decisions on financial matters or find processing financial information difficult. These may be temporary or more permanent and nonetheless this is where harm to clients can come.
The RU Group has always tried to help clients who may be in a vulnerable circumstance in a way befitting their individual needs and our Financial Planners have proven very adept at tailoring advice and support to these needs. This makes me proud.
Financial Vulnerability Taskforce Principles
To show our commitment to helping clients and further raising our standards we have signed up to the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce. This is a Personal Finance Society (PFS) backed initiative aimed at promoting firm good practice for clients in vulnerable circumstances.
By doing this we are committing to the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce’s 9 Principles, which are;
- Principle 1- Knowledge is Power
Being qualified we have a moral duty to act in clients best interests
- Principle 2- What does Best Endeavours mean?
We place clients interests above our own via a more stringent approach (it’s a Chartered Advisers Oath requirement)
- Principle 3- How can I recognise vulnerability?
We recognise vulnerability can be physical, mental or emotional, is dynamic in nature, and can be permanent or temporary
- Principle 4- Treating Customers Fairly in Practice
We treat all clients fairly regardless of identity, age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief
- Principle 5- Who are you calling vulnerable?
Vulnerability is not a category- ‘clients in vulnerable circumstances’ should be used as a term over ‘vulnerable clients.’
- Principle 6- What is a heightened responsibility in relation to clients?
We recognise the need for raised awareness and technical competencies when helping those in vulnerable circumstances
- Principle 7- Approach to vulnerability is ‘Business As Usual’
We’ll seek to adapt our processes and services so clients do not suffer detriment at any point
We’ll maintain confidentiality and comply with all relevant legislation
such as the Equality Act 2010, GDPR, Mental Capacity Act 2005 & Consumer Protection regulations
We see the application of the above as business as usual and not a separate compliant exercise
- Principle 8- Awareness and Training
We’ll seek to help all staff deal with those in vulnerable circumstances compassionately and empathetically
- Principle 9- What to do if a client may be being abused?
Where we feel clients face danger, abuse or harm we will contact the appropriate authorities to mitigate risks clients in vulnerable circumstances may face
Investing for clients in vulnerable circumstances
When investing a client should fully understand the level of risk an investment may have and their own capacity for investment loss. Understanding what it is you’re trying to achieve with your finances and prioritising is also a necessity. Cost implications as well as being able to weigh up information to make a decision is key to knowing if an investment solution is right for your needs.
Examples of how we can help clients achieve these levels of understanding when applying the Principles could include;
- Receiving documents and information in a different format to suit your requirements, this could be much larger font, paper documents over digital (or vice versa) or oral communications
- Being mindful of how a client wishes to interact with us, therefore being flexible in our approach
- Our adviser understanding when a Power of Attorney to help make decisions with you or on your behalf may be best suited
- Having someone in your meeting with you if you’d like an accompanied meeting
- We can come to your home if you’d prefer or perhaps order a taxi for you to attend our offices if this helps
Supporting clients in vulnerable circumstances
There is no set formula to what clients in vulnerable circumstances want or need and how we can help. I promise our clients we will listen to you to understand and do our very best to help clients achieve their financial goals and objectives no matter the circumstances.
All of our staff, meaning your Financial Planners, support teams and their line managers will receive training on the above Principles. This means whoever you deal with at The RU Group, they will be in a position to help our clients according to their needs.
If you feel that you or your family member is in a vulnerable circumstance please get in touch with your Adviser, or contact us on 0115 907 5100 and we’ll be happy to help.