A new survey by Just Group has found that 98% of financial intermediaries believe it is important to keep up-to-date with developments in the vulnerability agenda.

The FCA currently places a heavy emphasis on treating vulnerable customers fairly and is currently in a consultation period about further guidance for firms.

Rising to this challenge from the regulator, financial intermediaries have been looking at how to improve their processes to secure the best possible outcomes for all of their clients, including those who may be vulnerable.

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This desire to support vulnerable customers is reflected in the way financial intermediaries want to learn about how to help vulnerable customers, with 91% saying they were interested in learning about practical ways to implement best practice.

Dealing with third parties such as family members (83%) and better client engagement (79%) were also key interests.

Shifting preferences towards digital support for financial intermediaries is evident too with online training modules, videos, podcasts and webcasts, and downloadable literature cited as by far the most useful sources of information, according to the survey respondents.

By contrast, face-to-face training and conferences were not viewed so favourably.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group, said: “Vulnerability is a growing element in financial intermediaries’ work, underpinned by the FCA’s ongoing activity in this area.

“Intermediaries clearly recognise the significance of keeping up to date with developments on this topic and are looking at practical ways in which they can improve their understanding and processes.

“Whether that is by watching videos, participating in online training modules or reading up on the topic, there is a healthy appetite among advisers to better understand and help vulnerable customers.”

This survey follows Just Group’s launch of an interactive computer-based training module in partnership with SOLLA in June 2019 to increase understanding of the major issues of vulnerability.

Since launch, nearly 5,000 financial intermediaries have registered for the course.

Lowe continued: “Our training module has been met with enthusiasm and has received great feedback.

“It has given advisers and paraplanners a practical way to improve their comprehension of the important issue of understanding vulnerable customers.”