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Financial hurricane gathers momentum

While another hurricane threatens the lives and property of people in the Caribbean and across the southern United States, here a financial hurricane is continuing to gather momentum in the UK.

Not life threatening thank goodness, but it will turn many people’s lives upside down and cause them to lose homes and use up any savings to relieve their debt position.

While official statistics were showing last month that the number of bankruptcies and IVAs were down, the evidence of a huge groundswell of people in trouble with their finances continues to grow.

Rising rates of mortgage arrears have been reported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux have said they are finding it difficult to cope with the number of people seeking advice on debt problems.

All this will feed through to an explosion in demand by people looking for advice on the means to overcome their problems and bankruptcies and IVAs will rise.

I realise that some intermediaries feel that the whole area of debt solutions is suspect. Equally, many advisers don’t want to feel that they are profiting from other people’s misery.

But I have to ask, where else are people going to get the right help, if not from professional financial advisers who have the training in customer care and the right connections to ensure that people in serious financial trouble get the help they need?

If there is anyone out there who is not convinced yet that they are ideally placed to help people, then it comes down to choice about whether this growing demand comes into their orbit of advice.

However, there is a clear imperative from a regulatory perspective to ensure that customers are treated fairly.

If an adviser is not inclined to go down the debt solutions road, then he could be in danger of being hauled over the coals at a future date, by either the client, the regulator or both, just for failing to provide guidance.

Surely the way round this dilemma is to make sure that when faced with a prospect or existing client with debt problems, instead of turning them away having passed them the number for their local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the adviser takes a little time to research the market.

Provided the company is clear in that it is the advice provider and the client is in good hands, then advisers can rest easy they have discharged their duty to their client, separated themselves from the need to give direct advice and generated a fee for the work of liaising with their customer and the debt solutions company. Job done!

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