I can imagine that no one wants to be called vulnerable, in truth it is not a very nice term as in some peoples’ eyes it projects weakness and an inability to think and act for oneself.
Individuals associate vulnerability with those in ‘later life’ who may be in need of care, people who may no longer have the capacity to understand or make decisions; this can be day to day living or major financial choices. I would, however, argue that vulnerability is not just for those in later life. Anyone could be vulnerable.
It is important to understand that vulnerability is now considered in context to an individual’s life, so it is not a matter of deeming whether someone is ‘vulnerable’ but whether they are an individual in ‘vulnerable circumstances’. This could be someone in their 20’s who has had a major life event such as a death of a parent right through to someone in their 80’s whose mental or physical health is deteriorating. It could be as a result of a divorce, bereavement, loss of job or simply English not being their first language – all of these circumstances may mean that someone needs additional assistance in reaching a financial decision rather than that they are not in a position to make a decision at all.
It is essential to note that just because someone is in ‘vulnerable circumstances’ doesn’t mean their whole life has to be put on hold in terms of making decisions. From a financial planning perspective, it may just mean the meetings need to be broken down more or someone needs a bit of extra time to make a decision. Alternatively, they may wish a trusted friend or relative to be present at the meeting. If appropriate, attorneys will be involved if through a Power of Attorney or a deputy through the Court of Protection.
Whilst no one wants to be labelled as ‘vulnerable’, it could be that they are in ‘vulnerable circumstances’. These circumstances may pass or may be permanent, either way when discussing with a client it removes the stigmatism a little but in no way changes how they should be dealt with.
What is important is that the individual is provided with additional support from us to ensure they understand the implications of the decisions they make and that decisions reached are in their best interests. As time goes by, an individual’s circumstances will change and they may no longer need additional support as they are no longer deemed to be in vulnerable circumstances.
As a financial planner it is critical to ensure that any advice I provide is understood by my clients and therefore imperative that I deliver this in a way that they can make fully informed decisions, now and in the future.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of financial advice but are not sure what to do please contact me for an initial conversation. This is at Wingate’s expense and will give you a chance to see what we can do, whether we can help and importantly how we can help.