Client Affairs

Financial Planner Nets Vulnerable Client Accreditation

Shirin Aguiar Reporter London 3 March 2022

Financial Planner Nets Vulnerable Client Accreditation

The wealth management firm has enhanced its later life offering with a new professionally accredited advice service for vulnerable clients as the number of dementia sufferers in the UK rises.

Andy Page, a later life advisor at wealth firm Old Mill, has become one of a handful of financial planners in the UK to achieve the STEP advanced certificate in advising vulnerable clients.

Awarded by STEP – the global body for professionals who help families plan for their futures – it is one of the most in-depth programmes for professionals advising those with mental and physical capacity conditions, covering the legislative, welfare, financial and practical considerations surrounding the care and advice provided to vulnerable clients and their families. Due to the legal complexities of the course, the advanced certificate is usually completed by solicitors specialising in the field.

According to the firm, a million people in the UK have dementia, up from 800,000 in 2015, so advising vulnerable clients is becoming more crucial and the legalities around it more complicated.

“The STEP programme is the most comprehensive and in-depth course that professionals can complete in this area and, while it is not a level of knowledge demanded of financial planners advising vulnerable clients, it was one I wanted to complete to gain a much more thorough understanding of the mental capacity legal landscape,” Andy Page, chartered financial planner at Old Mill, said. “I was keen to obtain a much wider and deeper understanding of the legal side of things, and the impact they have on vulnerable people and their families, so I could offer the very best advice to my clients.”

Keen to share his knowledge, Page is running a webinar on the practicalities of being the attorney of a vulnerable person – an area that has not been widely covered to date.

“Most of the content out there is around Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), and about the importance of having one in place,” explains Andy, “yet there is little about who you should appoint as your LPA and practically no help for those actually performing the role. Thanks to what I have learned on the STEP course, I can now help advise those in this situation.”

“At Old Mill, our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we are continually looking at ways in which we can enhance our services to offer real value and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Andy’s success in achieving the STEP Advanced Certificate in Advising Vulnerable Clients is testament to this, and we are really proud of him and the enhanced service he is now able to offer,” Paula Hodge, head of wealth management at Old Mill, said.

Protecting the wellbeing of the elderly came into sharp relief during the pandemic, with wealth managers playing an even more crucial role. In 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority identified around 50 per cent of UK adults as being potentially vulnerable, displayed in physical and mental health, recent life events such as bereavement, and capacity and financial resilience matters. By contrast, a survey of wealth managers the previous year showed that firms’ vulnerable clients numbered only 1 to 5 per cent of their total client base.

Old Mill has four offices across the west country in Exeter, Chippenham Wells and Yeovil, with 320 staff offering service to more than 5000 clients across the south west. The practice has more than doubled in size since it was formed following a buyout in 2006.

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