Support for vulnerable clients increased by advisers

Advisers are increasing support for vulnerable clients and staff helping them as the sector responds to the growth in inquiries about later life advice, research conducted by Prudential revealed.

The research found that almost three out of four firms (72%) have a specific set of rules to follow for advisers handling older and vulnerable clients in response to growing concern about the impact of cognitive decline.

Rules and procedures being adopted by 42% of firms include insisting that third-parties, such as younger family members or legal representatives, attend any meetings with those clients that are considered vulnerable.

There are an increasing number of clients making important financial decisions in later life and advisory firms are recognising the need to for specialist training to enable advisers to address potential issues. The research illustrated that just under half (47%) of firms train staff to spot signs of cognitive impairment.

Just under 45% of firms interviewed claimed to monitor their clients for signs of unusual or concerning behaviour, while 14% of firms said they will refer clients showing signs of cognitive impairment to specialist advisers.

Commenting, Prudential retirement expert Vince Smith-Hughes said: “Later life planning is a major and growing part of advisers’ business and firms need specific processes to ensure older and vulnerable clients are supported.

“It is impressive that advisers are increasing support for vulnerable clients and are developing processes to protect the interests of older clients including providing training for staff of spotting signs of cognitive decline.”

However, Smith-Hughes added that “more needs to be done as it is certain that cognitive decline and its impact on the advice market will continue to grow”, therefore increasing the responsibility for advisers to respond.

Approximately 50% of firms claimed they already had processes in place to deal with potential issues from older clients managing income drawdown in later life. In comparison, 28% stated they have started reviewing processes as a result of the increase in the use of drawdown following the launch of pension freedoms.

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