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How advisers can tap into the £500m divorce market

There are many options out there that will equip advisers with the skills and qualifications needed to become a specialist in the divorce market

peopleFamily 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.

Claire Trott: We need a fresh look at pensions in divorce

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.”

Adviser view
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.”


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There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I would question Resolution’s claim that this is a £500m “untapped” market. I do a fair amount in this area and it is extremely rewarding, both financially and spiritually. But my efforts to step outside my usual circle of contacts have been unrewarding.

    I have often found that, during the dispute resolution process, any attempt to bring any detailed financial analysis into the process is often seen as an unwanted complication that will just increase costs and delay the resolution – get a CETV, split the assets, job done.

    Post resolution, many law firms already have their contacts for implementing pension sharing orders and are uninterested in discussing how a wider financial planning approach could improve their clients’ financial futures post divorce.

    I’ve tried engaging with Resolution a few times on this subject. Our firm was persuaded to take a stand at the annual Resolution conference a few years ago but most conversations revolved around whether we could do a pension splitting calculation more cheaply than a firm of actuaries who were also present. I also proposed running some seminars to introduce some wider financial planning and analysis considerations to anyone who was interested. In response I received an application form to run a stand at a future Resolution conference.

    I don’t mean to knock this initiative – it’s good to see that Resolution wants to engage with the adviser community more. And I’m sure that many advisers have excellent, rewarding relationships with law firms. But I would question whether there are many law firms out there (excluding those who already have strong adviser ties) who are truly looking to work with financial planners, and whether this adds up to £500m untapped business.

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