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Stressed clients benefit from ‘therapeutic’ financial advice

HSBC Life discovers an ‘intrinsic link’ between financial planning and improved mental and physical health


The saying that ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ may be true for some, but not having to worry about finances can definitely help with consumers’ wellbeing. If you are stressed out about your finances, perhaps taking a breather with products like CBD Oil UK might be helpful.

A recent study by HSBC Life found just that – an “intrinsic link” between financial planning and improved mental and physical health.

The study of 3,000 UK adults showed that of those who review their financial plans at least once a year, 72% benefit from average or above average mental health. Whereas among those who do not, half said their mental wellbeing was below average.

Similar reports of improved mental health emerged for those with a retirement plan (77%) compared with those without one (48%); and for those seeking financial advice (74%) versus those who do not (42%).

Mark Hussein, chief executive of HSBC Life UK, said: “Our study confirms that financial fitness is intrinsically linked with health and wellbeing. Making small changes to your financial planning today can not only have a big impact on your current wellbeing, but also improve your overall health, especially both physically and more importantly mentally in the future.”

Wellbeing in the spotlight

HSBC Life’s findings were also echoed in a piece of research by Charles Stanley which found that consumers’ mental health is increasingly taking centre stage in client-adviser relationships.

The wealth manager revealed that a third (34%) of financial advisers reported their clients need more emotional support rather than financial, as they have started to ask guidance and assistance on their daily lives.

Around 31% said that clients now need more support in general.

This could potentially reshape the role of the adviser from someone who manages people’s finances, to what would basically constitute life coaching on top of financial planning.

Customers are now asking to meet more frequently and have more contact with their advisers, as well as being able to reach them outside of traditional working hours.

The increase in face-to-face meeting requests has coincided with the lifting of covid restrictions, so is this uplift as result of a year’s worth of lockdowns or a cry for help in terms of feeling vulnerable and distressed?

Personal touch

According to Charles Stanley, it’s both.

The wealth manager said the pandemic has “exacerbated client needs”, as they now want “more personal touches” added to the traditional advice offering.

This includes understanding their personal situation in terms of family, employment or daily struggles (29%), or wanting an adviser to build a real relationship with them (26%).

Sean Osborne, group head of sales at Charles Stanley, said: “Financial advisers are not only expected to be a master in their field, but they are also increasingly challenged with the need to offer emotional support and support to vulnerable clients.

“Clients no longer only seek financial advice from their adviser, but also look for someone who can go above and beyond the traditional role and demonstrate their skillset as a counsellor, mediator, and listener, all the while being more contactable and accessible out of hours.

“Covid-19 has thrown huge curveballs to both advisers and clients, changing the ways we work, digitisation, the financial priorities everyone has, and the moments that matter which prompt conversations between the two.

“Advisers have been quick to adapt to a more virtual model of advice, but things are shifting again as clients want more face-to-face contact and a broader skillset from their adviser. The lines are being blurred between professional and personal advice in a post-covid world, and advisers are under pressure to deliver on all fronts.”

Turning the tables

However, it is important to note that advisers and financial services professionals may also require emotional and mental health support themselves.

The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) discovered that a third of global finance workers considered themselves to be vulnerable within the last year.

The survey was carried out by Chartered Body Alliance members between August and September 2021 and collected 1,637 responses.

When it came to firms, the vast majority (80%) said they had policies in place to deal with vulnerable clients, and over 10% did not.

But only 58% of respondents said they received formal, structured training on the fair treatment of consumers in vulnerable circumstances.

CISI chief executive Simon Culhane said: “Our report shows that the majority of professionals are seriously addressing their duties and responsibilities in this area as outlined in the FCA Guidance.

“But there is more to be done. Lack of empathy, overuse of automation and poor communication are themes we must address. The FCA Consumer Duty proposals specifically state that regulated firms should ‘put themselves in the shoes of others’.

“We acknowledge the gaps in knowledge, skills and behaviour which this survey has highlighted. We will start this process by producing an Alliance toolkit and a series of events for 2022, with round tables for well-being leads in member firms, to open the discussion on this survey outcome.

“The fact that 33% of respondents working in financial services also considered themselves vulnerable within the past 12 months has emphasised the importance of looking after our own member practitioners. We will be examining how we can expand the CISI mental health portal in particular to further support financial services professionals in this respect.”

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