Supporting people who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances
No one likes to be labelled as vulnerable, and we would never describe someone as such.
However, we do recognise that people are sometimes in vulnerable circumstances, which may lead to detriment if not handled in a sensitive, empathetic and professional manner. Our aim is to help ensure that anyone who becomes a client of this practice that is in vulnerable circumstance, will achieve the same positive outcomes that they would have they achieved had they not been in the circumstances they find themselves in.
We have invested heavily in the areas of training and capability to ensure that we are able to provide effective, professional and confidential support; and to ensure that we provide a safe pair of hands.
Two of our directors (Robin Melley and Andrew Mason) are founding members of the Steering Group for the national independent Financial Vulnerability Taskforce and are strong advocates for the Charter – we should be because we helped write it!
There is a consumer guide that you can download on this page, which sets out what you can expect from us as a professional practice. However, we have set out below the nine key commitments that we make to you should you, one day, find yourself in vulnerable circumstances:
Commitment 1 - we offer a ‘safe pair of hands’
We acknowledge that, as our services often involve the application of specialist and technical financial knowledge, this places many clients in a position of dependency and as such imposes upon us a greater moral duty to act in their best interests and as a ‘safe pair of hands’, especially to those who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances.
Commitment 2 – we will place our clients' interests above our own commercial interests
We accept that our professional obligation to use ‘best endeavours’ and place our clients' interests above our commercial interests, has a greater significance to clients who are in vulnerable circumstances and, therefore, at greater risk of detriment.
Commitment 3 – we will maintain a sharp awareness of vulnerability
We recognise that vulnerability can manifest itself in either physical, mental or emotional form (knowingly or otherwise), is dynamic in nature (short lived or longer term, sometimes permanent, transient, recurring or fluctuating over time) and may be hidden.
Commitment 4 – we will avoid making assumptions
When dealing with clients who seek to access our services, we treat all fairly, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, and guard against making assumptions about the characteristics of individuals.
Commitment 5 – we will never label you as vulnerable, recognising that use of language is critical
We believe that language and terminology is important. Vulnerability relates to circumstances and not a category of person. As such, descriptions such as ‘those in vulnerable circumstances’ will be used at all times instead of ‘vulnerable individuals’, except when only referring to individuals or groups of individuals where vulnerability is permanent.
Commitment 6 – we will behave sensitively
We recognise that people in vulnerable circumstances are often unaware of their vulnerability and, if they are aware, usually do not wish to be described as vulnerable. We, therefore, accept our heightened professional obligations towards clients in vulnerable circumstances; and the need for raised awareness, greater sensitivity, and additional technical competencies.
Commitment 7 – we will adapt our approach to provide a safe environment and confidentiality
We seek to recognise clients in vulnerable circumstances and encourage all to self-declare if appropriate, safe in the knowledge that we will:
- adapt our business processes and professional services so our clients do not suffer detriment at any point as we seek to deliver outcomes at least as good as for those who are not in vulnerable circumstances
- maintain confidentiality and ensure our behaviours are fully compliant with all relevant legislation including The Equality Act (2010), Consumer Protection regulations,The Mental Capacity Act 2005 and data protection including GDPR.
We see this as the application of ‘business as usual’, part of our raison d’etre and not part of a separate compliance or ‘stand-alone’ exercise.
Commitment 8 – we will ensure that all team members are appropriately trained
We seek to enable all members of our organisations to deal sympathetically and effectively with those in vulnerable circumstances by raising awareness of vulnerability and by providing training to all within our organisations in appropriate methods of engagement and the effective discharge of our professional services.
Commitment 9 – we will provide immediate support to anyone who is a victim of financial abuse
When we encounter clients in vulnerable circumstances and recognise that they may be in immediate danger of significant abuse or harm, or may need immediate support, we will take action to contact the appropriate authorities to mitigate the risks they face.
So, in summary, you may rest assured that you are in safe hands. Please download the guide.