“You can know someone really well,” says Andrew Gething, managing director of MorganAsh, “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.” 

What MorganAsh is finding is that clients using MARS – the MorganAsh Resilience System – get to know their customers better, by discovering vulnerabilities about which they previously knew nothing. 

“If there’s one consistent piece of feedback we get from customers,” says Gething, managing director of MorganAsh, “it is that they uncover significant vulnerabilities from consumers they have known for years.” 

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 – certainly, not in one place. “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.” 

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.” 

“This is consistent with other customers’ experiences,” says Gething. “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 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.” 

“It’s true,” says Gething, “that 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 tech. 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.” 

News archive

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