by Ian Campbell
Director & Chartered Financial Planner
We have come to the end of a turbulent year, in terms of our health, our wealth, our work and for many, our financial wellbeing.
Change is everywhere. Many of us may be facing new situations, whether enforced or voluntary, and contemplating new beginnings. Sometimes this can be a leap into the dark, which can be destabilising and leave us feeling insecure and lacking control.
This can all lead to a feeling of ‘vulnerability’, which is something providers of financial services need to be aware of.
That’s because if people are making key financial decisions while feeling ‘vulnerable’ then they need to be supported in a sensitive, empathetic and professional manner.
But what do we specifically mean by being vulnerable?
Vulnerability can mean many things depending on each individual client’s personal situation. In the financial sense, ‘vulnerable’ does not necessarily imply mental or physical weakness.
Nor does it necessarily involve being in financial dire straits. In fact, an example of an individual in a vulnerable situation would be a client who had a large lottery win, and suddenly found themselves with a large amount of excess cash – but without the financial skills to manage it properly.
The term ‘vulnerable’ simply relates to situations and changes that present a client with challenges that, to them, may appear to be difficult, even insurmountable.
These feelings can manifest themselves in many ways
They can be physical, mental, or emotional. It can be a short-term or a long-term situation. In some cases, can be resolved but return again later, in different form.
A change or loss of employment, an unexpected health setback or a divorce are all examples which could mean that an individual may currently be in a vulnerable situation.
Vulnerability, in its most simple definition, could be said to mean simply ‘suddenly needing help and advice’. Organising the financial side of a new situation like this is only half the battle. There can be many emotional consequences and repercussions that must be managed as well.
It’s therefore incumbent on the providers of financial advice to demonstrate they can provide this advice responsibly to those in vulnerable situations.
The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce
This is why the Personal Financial Society launched The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce, an organisation that embodies a charter of financial commitments and practices that enables firms such as ours to incorporate these into their company ethos.
Being part of the taskforce commits us to understand vulnerability, encourage appropriate behaviours both in ourselves and in our clients, and implement the rules of the charter to establish best practice in dealing with vulnerable clients and situations.
We’re pleased to have joined the taskforce as it’s all part of our ongoing practice of putting our clients’ interests first, ahead of their wealth. All our staff have already completed training in helping our clients deal with vulnerable situations, provided by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI). This is not a once-off training programme, it is an ongoing commitment to further learning.
All of this ongoing work has embedded a deep understanding of vulnerability alongside our long-established commitment to our clients’ financial wellbeing, in our culture.
Our commitment to you is to offer empathetic support to guide you through a challenging situation, or period of vulnerability.
We’ll provide you with objective, calm and considered advice, as we can look at your situation from the outside, without feeling the same pressure or anxiety that you may be feeling yourself.
At AAB Wealth we are, in other words, ‘a safe pair of hands’ to navigate you through a turbulent and stormy period, until calmer waters come into view.
To find out more about the nine commitments we’ve signed up to, please take a look at this article and please don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more.