Protecting people’s money: How financial services can support people who may lack capacity

Featured article - 02 August 2016
By Mandy Griffin, NMCF member

I’m delighted to be part of the National Mental Capacity Forum and particularly keen to learn from other sectors about making the Mental Capacity Act a reality for those they support. Working in Financial Services, it’s vital we help our customers maintain control, choice and independence when managing their money. For us, that means being on the side of our customers for every big change in someone’s life – be it a first bank account, a first car, a first house or your first child. At each point, it’s about giving people the information and support they need to make balanced decisions about their finances. Reduced or fluctuating mental capacity can rob someone of their ability to make financial decisions; whatever the underlying reason for this, it can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s financial situation as they face challenges this brings. If our role is to protect people’s money, then the financial services sector has a responsibility to step up and improve the way we identify and support people when they need additional help and support. Put simply, it’s the right thing to do.

Conditions affecting mental capacity, including dementia and mental illness, can manifest in a wide range of ways. A one size service is unlikely to fit all, so we need to provide services and products that are flexible and inclusive. We also need to help our people to feel confident when recognising that a customer needs our help and support them accordingly. Sometimes this is about providing clear and accessible information on a website, but it can be about simplifying product information, providing a single point of contact or ensuring our frontline employees are trained and able to identify customers who might need some more support. In each area, it’s about empowering customers and responding to their specific needs.

The good news with the help of the NMCF, the industry is moving in the right direction and collectively looking at how we can support our customers. Improved collaboration between banks and building societies is making a difference we can be proud of, even if there’s some way to go. In the long-term, by bringing companies and expert organisations together, we can create and drive genuine change.

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