Independent financial adviser Paul Russell chose MARS to fulfil Consumer Duty compliance – and found that it delivered vulnerability data he hadn’t expected – and he was also impressed by MorganAsh’s support. 

Paul Russell has worked in the financial services sector since 1991 and has been an independent financial adviser since 2010. He operates a one-person independent financial advice business. 

Paul 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.  

"I’m not an IT person in any way,” says Paul, “but putting the client’s information on there, it’s just a few details – and then you click a couple of buttons and the link to the assessment goes off to the client.” 

Paul let his clients know he was going to send an assessment and then added them all to MARS. “Clients got the assessment link immediately,” says Paul. “Most people were very happy with the assessment. I got a good response from about 80% of people, which tells me that the system is quick, reliable and easy to use. I appreciate it’s only clicking on a link, but simple things can still at times be troublesome to some people. 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.” 

Paul found that MARS gave him a wealth of information he didn’t have before. “I get detailed monthly reports. Like everyone, I think I know my clients , 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.” 

Many people won’t volunteer this kind of information face-to-face, at least spontaneously, and these can be hard questions to ask – plus, they’re invisible vulnerabilities you wouldn’t normally assume people have. “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.” 

Paul also found MorganAsh to be a great choice of supplier. “I looked at another system, but they were a tech company. MorganAsh is authorised by the FCA and has been in the financial services sector for years.” MorganAsh is authorised by the FCA to arrange and assist in the administration for both insurance and investments. “They understand the financial advice community. That was a big positive for me. Support has been great; I’ve fed back comments from my clients – and made some myself – and the team has listened and changed things, often very quickly. Providers in financial services doesn’t always provide great service right now, but with MorganAsh I get answers to emails quickly and can speak to the team on the phone. From my point of view, that’s massive.” 

A key driver for everyone in financial services is to meet the requirements of Consumer Duty. “Certainly, MARS puts me in a far better position than before. I didn’t have any information like this, or evidence of client vulnerabilities,” says Paul.  

“After the assessment is completed, I can put a certificate on every client’s file. So, everyone’s getting that consistent scoring and I also get a copy of the questions and answers so I can go in and find out how I may deliver a slightly different service going forward.”  

Our clients say:

To meet vulnerability and impending consumer duty requirements, firms need to understand the characteristics of their customers – and be able to manage and report the conduct risk. A move to more structured assessments that can provide consistent and objective data will provide management information that firms can utilise. The resilience rating within the MARS tool would appear to be a positive first step.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive at Association of Mortgage Intermediaries