Family law organisation Resolution has recently teamed up with the Personal Finance Society to publish a report that highlights divorce and separation as a £500m untapped market for advisers.
The report was written by a group of advisers and financial planners who work in the area. It found family lawyers are finding it difficult to source specialist advisers accredited in family law to help with the financial needs of couples separating or divorcing.
So how can advisers get into this market and is it worth exploring Resolution’s accreditation to become a specialist in the field?
A visible shortage
Resolution chair Nigel Shepherd thinks the perceived shortage of advisers specialising in divorce and separation may be because those who deal with such couples do not fully develop their skills or network to show they are working in this area, meaning they do not get referrals from family lawyers.
He says: “More than anything, family lawyers need financial advisers they can trust and with whom they can build strong professional relationships.”
Shepherd recommends advisers who want to specialise in this area develop a broad skill set and concentrate on process over product more than in other areas of advice.
Becoming a specialist
Resolution’s Financial Adviser Specialist Accreditation can demonstrate knowledge and show advisers are specialist in separation and divorce matters.
Accreditation is open to those who join Resolution as associate members. They are required to demonstrate knowledge of things like the Resolution code of practice and family finances through a two-part assessment programme. The core assignment focuses on the main competencies for advisers. Portfolio assignments are completed in around eight weeks and comprise a compulsory pensions unit and a choice of either cashflow modelling and budgeting or taxation.
All the options
Divorce and separation introduce a range of personal finance complexities to an individual’s life journey, so an adviser can offer much needed support.
PFS director of policy and public relations Matthew Connell says: “Financial considerations during a divorce or separation may include an individual’s mortgage capacity, what they need in terms of an income and what types of investments are available to support them during and after divorce or separation.
“Retirement planning can also be a fundamental concern.”
Paul Gorman, partner, Beaufort Financial
For anyone serious about working with family lawyers and mediators and advising divorcing clients, the Resolution accreditation is definitely worth attaining.
I often come across advisers and firms who promote themselves as divorce financial planners but do not have the accreditation. I’d urge them to do so, to back up and strengthen their credentials.
I first became accredited in 2007, taking the original exam and have since been re-accredited. The exam I took was probably one of the toughest I have taken. To work within this field, you need to have very sound pension knowledge. Indeed, having AF3/G60 is a basic requirement. Being able to assist in shaping a financial settlement for someone and demonstrating that they will be OK financially post-divorce can be immensely satisfying.
Connell says specialist skills are needed to service the divorce and separation market, given the complexities and range of financial decisions faced by those who experience it. However, he points out that advisers wanting to work in this market have other options apart from Resolution accreditation.
He says: “The PFS and other professional bodies offer a range of courses and qualifications to equip advisers with the skills required to operate as a specialist in the divorce and separation market. In addition, Resolution offers a specialist accreditation to qualifying advisers who exhibit the skills required to operate in the complex market.”