When asked how they would react if their adviser offered them additional support because they thought they were vulnerable, 74% of over-55s said they would be comfortable with it, according to research by More2Life. 

However, 19% said they do not need any help, and 21% said they would only welcome this assistance if it did not slow down the application process.

More than a quarter (27%) said they would question why their adviser thought they, or a family member, are vulnerable, while 8% would be ‘upset’ at being regarded as vulnerable.

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More2life’s research also revealed that 30% of homeowners over the age of 55 have felt vulnerable when making a financial decision.

Two in five (40%) homeowners agreed that as people get older they are more likely to be vulnerable; feeling vulnerable was also more common among women over 55 (32%) than men (28%).

The majority of advisers (81%) said they believe there is a need for greater education and more resources around how to spot the signs and deal with vulnerable clients.

In addition, 73% felt there was more the industry could do to make equity release literature clearer and easier to understand.

Dave Harris, CEO at more2life, said: “Vulnerability is a tricky topic for advisers and lenders as while we are committed to supporting people who need additional help, clients may very well not identify themselves as being vulnerable.

“So the challenge becomes helping them make the right financial choices for both the short and the long term while at the same time encouraging them to realise they may be vulnerable and that this is entirely OK.

“Today’s research suggests that three-quarters of older homeowners would welcome support if they were vulnerable which should act as a reassurance to advisers as they have these conversations with their clients.

“That said, there is still a disconnect between believing that vulnerable people need more support and being vulnerable themselves so advisers are keen for more resources and tools to help with these tricky conversations.

“As a responsible lender, we are committed to making sure our customers are making the right decisions for the right reasons and supporting advisers in recognising vulnerability.

“It is for this reason that we strongly welcome the FCA’s guidance on vulnerability to ensure the best outcomes for customers in the equity release market.”

Will Hale, CEO at Key, said: “Knowing how to identify and support vulnerable customers is a crucial part of any financial adviser’s role.

“However, it is arguably even more important in the later life lending arena when the average customer is over 70 and the decisions made can impact choices around care, inheritance and long term-financial wellbeing.

“This new report by more2life deals with the elephant in the room for many advisers as it can be awkward explaining to a customer that you feel they should be considered vulnerable when they may not view themselves as such.

“Today’s report suggests that most customers would welcome having these conversations which should encourage more advisers to address this subject head on.

“At Key, we place customers at the heart of what we do and we have robust processes in place to protect those that are vulnerable.

“That said, we are also aware that there is always room for improvement so we are delighted that the FCA is consulting on this issue so that the sector can ensure that all customers receive support appropriate to their individual circumstances.”