Without smart technology, significant consumer vulnerabilities go unnoticed, in Consumer Duty era MorganAsh finds

by | Feb 27, 2024

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Firms that are yet to integrate technology to complete essential vulnerability assessments run the risk of missing significant vulnerabilities among their clients, MorganAsh has found.

Feedback from users of the MorganAsh Resilience System (MARS) has revealed that firms are not only getting to know their customers better – including long-term clients, but discovering vulnerabilities which they previously knew nothing about.

In fact, vulnerability assessments have helped identify information that many people may not volunteer face-to-face, at least spontaneously, and can be hard questions for advisers to ask. In addition, assessments have helped uncover invisible vulnerabilities that advisers wouldn’t normally assume people have.

Paul Russell, independent financial adviser, adopted MARS – the MorganAsh Resilience System – in the summer of 2023. Paul wanted a robust way of meeting the requirements of Consumer Duty and, rather than assess and manage his clients’ vulnerability manually, wanted a technology-based solution – to save time.


Paul found that MARS gave him a wealth of information he didn’t have before. He said: “I get detailed monthly reports. Like everyone, I think I know my clients well, but MARS highlighted some with significant vulnerabilities – clients with alcohol dependency issues, and clients who have had cancer. Those stood out, but there is a wealth of detail across the board.

“As much as you can ask all the questions and may be doing good fact finds,” says Paul, “the MARS assessment brought out information that I just didn’t know.”

Andrew Gething, managing director of MorganAsh adds: “You can know someone really well and yet still not know something important about them. Many material vulnerabilities aren’t apparent, aren’t volunteered and aren’t something you’d casually ask about. We often say that, like wealth, vulnerabilities aren’t binary. People aren’t just either rich or poor. In the same way, you don’t either know everything about someone, or know nothing.


“If there’s one consistent piece of feedback we get from customers, it is that they uncover significant vulnerabilities from consumers they have known for years. You can know someone well, but you can’t know everything. It’s no reflection whatsoever on an adviser or their relationship with a client. It’s normal. But it’s the gap that products like MARS and its objective vulnerability assessment are designed to fill.”

There is also fear that customers don’t like to talk about their vulnerabilities, but Gething says that this isn’t upheld in the real world. “People are less happy talking about their finances,” says Gething, “we get very little push-back with our vulnerability assessments.”

This is confirmed by MARS users such as Paul Russell. “Most people were very happy with the assessment,” says Paul. “I got a fast response from about 80% of people, which tells me that the system is quick, reliable and easy to use. In the end, around 90% of the assessments were completed online and the rest I went through personally, with the client, using the MARS questionnaire.”


Andrew adds: “With the right questions, specialist vulnerability knowledge and a lot of time, you could get similar results from a manual approach. But that’s the whole point of technology. It’s there to make light work of big tasks and lets you find things you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. We need smart tech to get consumer vulnerability right and to help meet the requirements of Consumer Duty.”

MorganAsh launched its award-winning MARS platform to help firms understand and monitor vulnerable customers and deliver good outcomes – as required by Consumer Duty. It is in use across financial services and the utilities sector, enabling businesses to adopt a consistent approach to identifying vulnerable characteristics and generate an objective Resilience Rating – much like a credit score.

To find out more or access a free trial, visit: morganash.com/mars or phone: 0330 159 8162.


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