The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce Charter
The Financial Vulnerability Taskforce created this Charter in 2021 and it has over 1,000 firms (circa 4,000 members) using the Charter badge to augment their own approach to vulnerability.
It focuses specifically on vulnerability and forms a key part of the Consumer Duty Alliance Code of Professional Standards. We produced it as a standalone document to reflect the importance of vulnerability, originally specific to financial planning, then revised it in January 2024 to make it relevant to the personal finance, legal and accountancy professions.
The ten statements (listed below) of the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce Charter underpin the Taskforce’s work and we expect that our supporters commit to enact and actively support them.
Register your support for the Charter and you’ll receive a unique digital badge for your communications, a Consumer Guide and supporting documentation. Find out more by completing this form. This is a voluntary Charter, please ensure you are fully aware and comply with any requirements placed upon you by your firm.
As professionals working in or with any of the UK personal finance, legal or accountancy sectors:
- We recognise that people not familiar with using professional services may experience stress or anxiety when doing so, making them more dependent upon us for our specialist knowledge. This increases our moral duty to provide a safe pair of hands, in addition to our professional obligations to act in a client's best interests.
- We accept that clients in vulnerable circumstances are potentially at increased risk of detriment, placing greater significance on our professional obligation to use all reasonable endeavours and place our clients’ interests above our commercial interests.
- We commit to ensuring that at the earliest opportunity we will explain to clients what will happen during the delivery of our services and how much it is likely to cost at any given point. We will then keep them up to date, so they understand what is happening at any given moment.
- We recognise that vulnerabilities can be physical, mental or emotional (knowingly or otherwise), are dynamic in nature (short lived or longer term, sometimes permanent, transient, recurring or fluctuating over time) and may be hidden.
- We treat all our clients and potential clients in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity, regardless of their identity, age, gender, gender reassignment, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief. We also guard against making assumptions about individuals.
- We believe language and terminology are important. Vulnerability relates to circumstances and not a category of person. As such we will use descriptions such as ‘those in vulnerable circumstances’ instead of ‘vulnerable individuals’ except when referring to individuals or groups of individuals where the nature of their vulnerability is permanent. We also commit to using clear, and wherever possible jargon free language.
- We recognise that those in vulnerable circumstances are often unaware of their vulnerability and if they are aware, might not acknowledge it nor wish to be described as vulnerable. We therefore accept our heightened professional obligations towards these clients including the need for raised awareness, greater sensitivity and additional competencies.
- We seek to recognise clients in vulnerable circumstances and encourage all to self-declare, safe in the knowledge that we will:
- Adapt our professional services and supporting business processes so they do not suffer detriment at any point as we seek to deliver outcomes at the same level as for those who are not in vulnerable circumstances.
- Maintain confidentiality and ensure our behaviours and actions are fully compliant with all relevant legislation and data protection rules.
- Embed the above as our customary way of dealing with clients, and not simply as a tick box exercise.
- We seek to enable all members of our organisation to deal compassionately, empathetically and effectively with those in vulnerable circumstances by raising awareness of vulnerability and by providing training in appropriate methods of engagement and the effective discharge of our professional services.
- 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.