More education is needed to help spot vulnerable equity release clients, according to research by More 2 Life.
The equity release lender surveyed equity release advisers to ascertain their views on vulnerability and the role of family in the advice process.
It found that more than eight in 10 (88 per cent) advisers said there was a need for greater education and additional resources to provide practical guidance on how to spot the signs of potentially vulnerable clients.
More than half (53 per cent) of advisers surveyed said they deemed one to 10 per cent of their past clients as vulnerable. Less than two out of 10 (17 per cent) advisers said it was generally easy to spot a vulnerable client.
More 2 Life says these statistics show how much more needs to be done to strengthen advisers’ education in this area, as last year’s FCA’s Financial Lives Survey estimated that half of UK adults (25.6m) showed signs of their potential vulnerability.
When asked how they determined whether a client was vulnerable or not, 87 per cent surveyed said they enquired about a client’s personal circumstances and 82 per cent said they tested their customers on their understanding of the products on offer.
When asked about spotting the signs of vulnerability, 91 per cent of advisers cited mental ill-health as the biggest risk factor they looked out for, followed by low literacy, numeracy and financial capability (88 per cent).
More than half (56 per cent) of advisers recognised that significant financial worries might also make a customer vulnerable. Physical ailments such as severe or long-term medical conditions were also cited by advisers as signs of vulnerability.
More 2 life corporate marketing director Stuart Wilson says: “Whilst the majority of equity release advisers confirmed in our research that they were proactive in determining whether a customer was vulnerable or not, there is a clear demand for more education and resources to be provided. Advisers must be confident that they are not just able to recognise vulnerable clients, but also that they are fully equipped on how to communicate with them and manage their needs accordingly.”