Advising Vulnerable Clients

It is fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all our lives one way or another. Fear, worry and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats to our lives and livelihoods. This can put extra pressure on people which could lead to them becoming vulnerable.

People living in later life are more likely to be exposed to vulnerability both from a health and wellbeing and financial perspective. Their vulnerability can be short lived, long term or be permanent. It can often be triggered by emotional or financial shock. According to the insurance company JUST:

  • 1 in 6 people over 80 years old are affected by Dementia
  • 1 in 7 adults have literacy skills that are expected of a child age 11 or below
  • Just under 50% of UK adults have a numeracy attainment age of 11 or below
  • Almost 50% of adults do not have enough savings to cover an unexpected bill of £300

When meeting with new and existing clients, I have a duty of care to ensure I can identify “vulnerability indicators” and tailor my advice to their personal circumstances. Whilst not an exhaustive list, it is important for me to consider the following vulnerabilities:

  • Low literacy, numeracy and financial capability skills
  • Communication difficulties
  • Severe or long-term illness
  • Physical disability
  • Mental health problems
  • Dementia or loss of capacity
  • Low income and/or debt
  • Change in circumstances such as bereavement
  • Caring responsibilities (including operating as power of attorney)
  • Dealing with a sudden life event such as death of a spouse

If a vulnerability is identified, I handhold the client on the advice journey, taking extra measures to ensure the pace is appropriate for their particular circumstances.  Additional measures might include:

  • Providing additional opportunities for them to ask questions about the information we have provided.
  • Continuously seeking confirmation that they have understood the information that has been provided.
  • Asking if there is anybody who is able to assist them, such as a family member or trusted friend, to be present during our conversations.
  • Conducting the meeting at a place and time of day which best fits in with their circumstances and allows them to feel most comfortable.

Are you in this situation or do you know someone who is?  We are here to help

Ben Harrison is a Financial Planning Consultant at MHA Moore and Smalley, he is an Independent Chartered Financial Planner, accredited through the Society of Later Life Advisors (SOLLA) together with holding specialist qualifications in advising vulnerable clients.

For an initial, no obligation meeting to discuss any financial planning matter please contact Ben via e-mail or call the office on 01772 821 021.

MHA Moore and Smalley and is registered to carry on audit work in the UK by The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and details of our registration can be viewed at under reference number 448716.