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Yvonne Goodwin: Advisers need to be ready for a client’s health failing

Sometimes plans gets derailed and you must prepare your clients for that

More people than ever are surviving into their 90s and beyond, many with complex medical issues to deal with. Most advisers around my age will have a number of clients also of a similar age, where their own children are now independent financially but their parents are aging with different healthcare needs.

Most of the focus in the financial services sector is, naturally, to do with money. But advisers must be aware that clients in this situation may well have future life plans blown off course by events outside their control. We must help them prepare for that too.

Having had personal experience of this very recently, it is often more a question of time and dealing with frustrations. In my case, different parts of the NHS, healthcare operatives and the local council. Woe betide anyone who unknowingly does not follow the correct processes.

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I know one thing is for sure: you would happily throw a great deal of money at the issue if it meant you did not have to deal with the frustrations. But, in reality, you want your loved one to be as comfortable as possible in their later years, so you cannot and do not want to take a step back.

We are always told in our profession not to use jargon. Yet the NHS is constantly guilty of it. At my mother’s “recovery hub” (who knew this was an intermediate stage between hospital and being well enough to go back home?) there was talk of a SALT assessment. As we were told she had a sodium deficiency, we naturally thought this was something to do with that. Oh no, SALT stands for speech and language therapy. Now we know.

Another example is when the occupational therapist appears in the room and says, “Hello, I’m your mother’s OT”, or when you get a phone call from an unknown number saying “I’m Fred from the rapid response team”. Thoughts of whether it is a scam go through your head, until further questioning helps you discover he is a social worker from the local council (the fact this member of the “rapid” response team is phoning a whole week after a meeting has been agreed with the “OT” is quite amusing).

The hard facts on soft skills

None of the points above involve money but they do involve a lot of time and emotion, and oodles of frustration. Think about your clients. How is it going to be with their older relatives?

Because the point of this rant is not to elicit sympathy but to make advisers with clients of a certain age, who are lucky enough to still have a parent or parents, think about how it might impact their future life plans.

We do the financial planning with our clients but do we take into account how such issues may affect their ability to follow their plans and, indeed, the possible effect on their own health?

The only guarantee you get in life is that things will change. Sometimes plans gets derailed and you must prepare your clients for that. Do not let it be the elephant in the room.

Yvonne Goodwin is managing director of Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management

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