At the forefront of the corporate philosophy of Financial Investigation and Recovery Ltd, is treating clients with transparency, openness and understanding. It is our mission to rectify the wrongs of financial services organisations, and aid in placing customers back into the position that they would have been, had they not encountered these unscrupulous firms. In this endeavour, we recognise the significant importance of identifying potentially vulnerable clients, and communicating with them appropriately.
According to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a person is unable to make a specific decision if they cannot understand information about the decision to be made; cannot retain that information in their mind; cannot use or weigh up that information as part of the decision-making process or cannot communicate their decision.
Consequently, a vulnerable person could be a person that (among others):
– is not a native English speaker.
– is a sufferer of a long-term mental illness such as dementia.
– has a sensory impairment such as deafness.
– has a learning disability that affects their ability to process and retain information.
However, a person may also be considered vulnerable as a result of temporary circumstances that affect their emotional and mental well-being, which in turn may restrict their ability to understand, process, retain and communicate information. Circumstances such as:
– a recent loss or bereavement.
– a recent injury.
– physical illness such as cancer.
– other temporary circumstances that may lead to depression, anxiety etc.
Identifying Vulnerable Clients
In identifying potentially vulnerable clients, we are alerted by, and look for signals such as:
– a client’s difficulty in hearing or understanding what is being communicated to them. Do they often ask for words or statements to be repeated? Do they respond in a manner that seems unrelated to what had been said? Do they ask unrelated questions?
– the client becoming distressed or upset during our conversation with them. Do they seem to be suffering with stress? Do they mention or allude to any physical or mental illness or injury that may affect their ability to make an informed decision?
– difficulty reaching the telephone, which may indicate reduced mobility due to illness or age. Do they sound out of breath or tired when they initially pick up the telephone? Do they mention or allude to their difficulty with mobility?
– referencing other people in assisting with their decision. Do they state that a relative normally deals with these types of matters on their behalf?
– difficulty in remembering previous conversations. Do they often forget details from previous conversations? Do they have difficulty recalling the name of our organisation, or the person that had spoken to them?
As well as looking for signals expressed through action, we are also alerted by relative inaction in communicating our services with clients. A lack of communicative action may indicate that the client is a vulnerable person, inactions such as:
– Do they ask valid questions pertaining to the service, or do they seem to agree without giving it much thought?
– Do they respond to questions and statements with a well-described account of their circumstances, or do they simply reply with “yes”, “no” or a similar variant?
Communicating With Potentially Vulnerable Clients
1. Identifying a client as being potentially vulnerable does not automatically preclude their engagement with our services. In the event that a potentially vulnerable client is identified, their record should be clearly distinguished as such, in order to ensure that they are treated fairly in respect of their vulnerability.
2. When communicating with a potentially vulnerable client, we will take extra precautions to ensure fair and reasonable treatment:
a) the client must be provided additional time and opportunity to interpret, understand and
question the information that we provide.
b) we will ask the client if there is another person or persons that can, or does assist or
c) we will continuously ask for confirmation that the client has understood the information that
we present to them, and that beyond doubt, they agree to the terms of our services.
d) the client’s position of vulnerability will be taken into account in the event of contract
cancellation, failure to supply adequate information pertaining to their claim, and any other
circumstance that would ordinarily prejudice the client.
3. In the event that we determine that a client is not in a position to sufficiently understand and agree to our terms of service, we will not seek to engage the client, and will write to the client providing further information regarding the service that they are seeking.