Committed to the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce Charter
As a Chartered financial planning firm, we are committed to providing consistent outcomes for our clients. This means we endeavour to be inclusive in all that we say and do, with the objective of ensuring that our clients’ needs are met, irrespective of their circumstances.
This involves supporting clients who may currently be in vulnerable personal circumstances.
We recognise that not everyone considers ‘vulnerability’ to be a positive word and many of us may not consider ourselves to be ‘vulnerable’. However, our circumstances could put any of us higher on what the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has called the ‘spectrum of vulnerability’ at some point in our lives.
The FCA define a vulnerable client 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’.
There are many different things that could make any particular individual more vulnerable at any given moment. According to a recent survey undertaken on behalf of the FCA, there are four main factors contributing to vulnerability:
Clearly, the breadth of these factors means that none of us are immune to circumstances that might make us more vulnerable.
At Punter Southall Wealth, we are dedicated to ensuring that all clients receive the support they need. That’s why we are one of the early signatories to the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce Charter.
The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce is a recently established independent and inclusive group representing the personal finance sector. Its ultimate purpose is to promote greater understanding of vulnerability and encourage good practice by personal finance professionals, ensuring that they recognise the unique circumstances of each individual.
The Charter we have committed to as a firm underpins the work of the Taskforce and sets out how professionals who commit to it are expected to work with clients.
We recognise that many clients will find it difficult to understand many of the technical and specialist concepts and terms used in financial planning. We will go out of our way to explain things in an accessible way. We will only proceed once we are satisfied that you fully understand the implications of the advice being given.
Placing your interests above all else
As a client, at all times your needs will take priority over the financial interests of our firm or planner, and we will always use our best endeavours to provide an appropriate, personalised service for all clients.
Understanding how your circumstances might make you vulnerable
We understand that vulnerability can be physical, mental, emotional or simply the result of a lack of understanding. Being dynamic in nature, it may be short-lived or longer term, sometimes permanent, transient, recurring or fluctuating over time and may be hidden. In alignment with this Charter, we will act appropriately and with sensitivity in each case.
Not making assumptions about you
We treat all clients fairly, regardless of your identity, age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, and we will guard against making assumptions about you.
Not labelling you
Using appropriate language is important. For example, as adopters of the Charter, we recognise that vulnerability relates to circumstances and not to a category of person, and will not seek to label you as a vulnerable person but someone who is currently in vulnerable circumstances.
Dealing with you sensitively
We understand that people in vulnerable circumstances are often unaware of their vulnerability and, where they are aware, might not acknowledge it nor wish to be described as vulnerable. We acknowledge a heightened professional obligation towards those in vulnerable circumstances and the need for raised awareness, greater sensitivity, and additional technical competencies.
Adapting processes and maintaining your confidentiality
If you are considered to be in vulnerable circumstances, you will be encouraged to recognise your vulnerability, safe in the knowledge that our business processes and professional services will be adapted so that you do not suffer detriment at any point. We will also maintain confidentiality and ensure behaviours are fully compliant with all relevant legislation.
Ensuring staff are knowledgeable and appropriately trained
In alignment with the Charter, we will make sure that all of our staff deal compassionately, empathetically and effectively with those in vulnerable circumstances by raising awareness of vulnerability and by providing appropriate training in supporting those in vulnerable circumstances.
Taking appropriate action if you are in harm’s way
In those rare situations where it is recognised that a client in vulnerable circumstances may be in immediate danger of significant abuse or harm, or may need immediate support, action will be taken to mitigate the risks you face, including contacting the appropriate authorities if necessary. Examples of abuse or harm include inappropriate pressure from a third party and scams.
How do we implement the Charter commitments?
We have appointed a team of six Client Vulnerability Champions, as a centre of excellence for guidance within the firm. The team helps to implement vulnerability processes and frameworks throughout the business, and also coach and support colleagues to better identify and support vulnerability within our client base and with new clients.
Our staff are fully trained and supported, so that all our clients receive a service tailored to their specific needs and requirements. As a result, our colleagues are taught to understand that we are all on unpredictable life journeys, where additional support may be required from time to time, or on an ongoing basis.
Building trust in relationships
Most importantly, we build long-term relationships with our clients. This is at the heart of all we do, and enables us to be responsive as specific needs and requirements evolve. We take pride in getting to know our clients and taking the time to understand both what is said and what might be left unsaid.
We are committed to being a ‘safe pair of hands’ by building trust with each of our clients.
If you have any questions about how we support your needs, please do not hesitate to . We endeavour to maintain full transparency with our clients, and are always happy to talk.