Nets Financial Planner Vulnerable Client Accreditation

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The wealth management company has enhanced its offering for older people with a new professionally accredited advice service for vulnerable clients as the number of people with dementia in the UK rises.

Andy Page, an end-of-life adviser at wealth management firm Old Mill, has become one of the few financial planners in the UK to obtain STEP’s advanced certificate in advising vulnerable clients.

Awarded by STEP – the global body for professionals who help families plan for their future – it is one of the most in-depth programs for professionals advising people with mental and physical capacity issues, covering legislative, social, financial and practical considerations surrounding the care and counseling of vulnerable clients and their families. Due to the legal complexity of the course, the Advanced Certificate is usually completed by lawyers who specialize in the field.

According to the firm, one million people in the UK have dementia, up from 800,000 in 2015. This makes advising vulnerable clients and complicating the legalities around it increasingly crucial.

“The STEP program is the most comprehensive and in-depth course that professionals can take in this area and, although it is not a level of knowledge required of financial planners advising vulnerable clients, it is was the one I wanted to follow to gain a much deeper understanding of the mental capacity legal landscape,” said Andy Page, Certified Financial Planner at Old Mill. “I wanted to gain a much broader and deeper understanding of the legal things and their impact on vulnerable people and their families, so that I can offer the best advice to my clients.”

Keen to share his knowledge, Page is hosting a webinar on the practicalities of being an advocate for a vulnerable person – an area that has not been widely covered to date.

“Most of the content is about durable powers of attorney (LPAs) and the importance of having one in place,” Andy explains, “yet there’s little on who you should name your LPA and virtually no help for those actually fulfilling the role.Thanks to what I learned in the STEP course, I can now help to counsel people in this situation.

“At Old Mill, the best interests of our customers are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we are continually looking for ways to improve our services to deliver real value and differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Andy’s success in obtaining the STEP Advanced Certificate in Counseling Vulnerable Clients is a testament to this, and we are truly proud of him and the improved service he is now able to offer,” said Paula Hodge, Head of of wealth management at Old Mill.

Protecting the well-being of older people has been highlighted during the pandemic, with wealth managers playing an even more crucial role. In 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority identified around 50% of UK adults as potentially vulnerable, displayed in physical and mental health, recent life events such as bereavement, and financial capacity and resilience issues. In contrast, a survey of wealth managers conducted the previous year showed that vulnerable corporate clients represented only 1-5% of their total client base.

Old Mill has four offices in the West Country in Exeter, Chippenham Wells and Yeovil, with 320 staff serving over 5,000 customers in the South West. The firm has more than doubled in size since its creation following a takeover in 2006.

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