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The art of communication

Quality advisers can make the difference between hardship and a financial solution

The start of a new year can often deliver a much needed kick-start, providing added motivation to finally achieve an ambition or set one’s house in order, be that in terms of personal, business or financial issues. I am not referring to resolutions, which are often made in haste and soon broken, but real and tangible goals which can be set and worked on until they reach fruition.

In this atmosphere, advisers can benefit from a more motivated client base that has been waiting for the holiday season to finish before they actively look at their financial situation and develop their planning strategy for the year ahead.

Advisers will in many ways be preaching to the converted when they meet and discuss arrangements with this type of client but it is also vitally important that they do not neglect another section of the population who will not feel motivated to review their finances and instead adopt a head in the sand attitude.

For this section, it will feel like time has been called on their ability to continue neglecting their financial responsibilities. Many will have used the holiday season as a time to try to forget what was coming over the horizon and the reality of the situation now hits and it could be particularly bleak.

This is where a quality and, dare I say it, caring advisory approach could mean the difference between many years of hardship or a deliverable solution that offers a satisfying outcome.

For those who are not where they want to be financially and, particularly in the elderly marketplace where we operate, this can be a seriously worrying period.

The latest figures from the Insolvency Service show the growing financial pressures that many over-65s are now under, with a sixfold increase in the number of bankrupt over-65s over the past 10 years and the number of bankruptcies increasing 50 per cent faster than for any other age group.

Significantly, there are 10 times more women in the over-65 age group becoming bankrupt compared with 2000. Given the nature of the wider economic problems on pensions, provision of social care and quality of life in retirement, we can only expect this number to grow through-out the next decade.

It seems obvious that many individuals may be looking for support and advice and contact from the adviser and an outline of the variety of solutions you offer could mean the difference between a client engaging with the issues or continuing inertia.

Advisers should re-engage with their client database. I would look to tailor your communications to the different groups of clients you have. For those specialising in equity-release advice, it should not just be a simple, “Hello, how are you, we provide advice in this area” communication but instead think more about how equity release could provide a solution to life experiences, problems or events.

Circumstances, wants and needs can change quickly. For example, 12 months ago, a client in their mid to late 50s may not have been thinking too much about their retire-ment income and whether their pension will meet their expected standards of living but this may have become a far more pressing concern.

We should all remember that 12 months ago we had a Labour Government and not one political party was admitting to the levels of public spending cuts we are seeing. Times change and they can change quickly.

Now is the time to meet the needs of not just your motivated client base but also those who may be looking for solutions but are unwilling to countenance reality.

Offering these individuals a way out or help in the right direction could make a difference to them and to your business.

Peter Welch is head of sales and distribution at Bridgewater Equity Release

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