Strong Advisor Demand For Vulnerability Support – UK's Just Group

Amanda Cheesley Deputy Editor 18 December 2023

Strong Advisor Demand For Vulnerability Support – UK's Just Group

Just Group, a FTSE-listed specialist UK financial services company, has just released an update of its Consumer Vulnerability in Later Life training.

The Consumer Vulnerability in Later Life training has now reached 15,000 completions, showing the strong demand from financial advisors, paraplanners and other colleagues to improve their knowledge and capability in order to work with vulnerable customers, according to retirement specialist Just Group.

The free-to-use, interactive digital training was launched by Just Group and SOLLA in 2019 to equip financial advisors, paraplanners and other colleagues in advice firms with the tools and insight needed to support vulnerable customers.

Demand for the training has increased since it was launched, as the pandemic and then the cost-of-living crisis raised the profile of vulnerable customers and emphasised the advice community’s responsibility to ensure the fair treatment of these customers, the firm said in a statement.

A vulnerable customer is defined as someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm – particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.  

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) view of vulnerability is on a spectrum of risk. All customers are at risk of becoming vulnerable, but this risk is increased by having characteristics of vulnerability. These could be poor health, such as cognitive impairment, life events such as new caring responsibilities, low resilience for coping with financial or emotional shocks and low capability, such as poor literacy or numeracy skills. 

Just Group said the strong demand for the training is reflected in the high take-up which has been completed 15,000 times by the advice community. The training has been updated each year to reflect guidance on the effects of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and more recently, FCA direction. The latest update was launched in May 2023 to incorporate the FCA's guidelines on dealing with vulnerable people and its new Consumer Duty, as well as a general refresh of imagery and new helpful resource links, the firm continued.

The new UK Consumer Duty regime states that firms should provide customers with products and services that meet their needs and offer fair value. Customers should receive communications which they can understand and should get the customer support they need when they need it. See more here. 

“People can be vulnerable for many reasons and events like these bring added pressures which can trigger vulnerability. It emphasises the importance of treating customers fairly and this requires identifying and supporting those with characteristics of vulnerability,” Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said. 

“We created the Consumer Vulnerability in Later Life training with content provided by SOLLA to keep intermediaries updated on the latest guidance in the sector. We provide them with relevant tools and insight to build and maintain effective strategies for helping vulnerable customers. It’s great to see so many in the advice community benefiting from the training,” Lowe added.

Just Group is a specialist in the individual retirement income, care and defined benefit de-risking markets, managing more than £26 billion ($33 billion) of customers’ retirement savings, and helping customers release over £6.5 billion from their properties.

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