Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions and every year World Mental Health Day shines a spotlight on the issue to raise awareness. This year, however, Covid-19 has led to a host of issues that have increased mental health challenges, from isolation and unemployment to illness and bereavement.
At Legal & General we know that vulnerable people, whether they face mental or physical challenges, can find managing complex financial issues like insurance, pensions and equity release, daunting. We have appointed Dawn Watkins as our Group Vulnerable Customer Experience Manager to ensure that all of our teams are equipped to provide important support to vulnerable customers, with sympathy and kindness.
The Financial Conduct Authority believes that 24 million people – almost half the adult population – display the characteristics of vulnerability, including mental and physical health issues, recent life events such as bereavement or divorce, and a lack of financial understanding or resilience. Our own research has shown that one in four interactions with customers identified a customer vulnerability.
We are already working to the proposed Financial Conduct Authority guidelines on vulnerable customers and all of our call centre staff receive training on how to identify and support vulnerable people. But we want to do much more so that when people who contact us are facing difficult times, whether it’s dementia, divorce, sight loss or any of hundreds of challenges, they receive the help they need to make financial decisions that are right for them and can access a wider range of support if they need it.
Our Life Insurance team, who deal with people who have suffered bereavements, have already received training from the Samaritans. The Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) has also provided training to our Home Finance team who work with customers who want to release equity from their homes. And a charity that champions people who are hard of hearing worked alongside some of our frontline colleagues to see how we could improve the way we communicate with them.