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Adviser Workshop: How to solve elderly clients' IT problems

As online access to financial services becomes assumed, those without digital skills face real-world problems.

Adviser Workshop: How to solve elderly clients' IT problems

Helen Howcroft

Managing director

Equanimity IFA

This came up with National Savings & Investments (NS&I) where the client was not able to manage her account over the phone. She had pensioner bonds.

When I was with her, I asked her to phone the NS&I so she could take out one of these new policies. However, she could not pass security because she did not have a password.

Encourage a willingness to learn

The only way she could get a password was to do so online. She did have a computer but she could not use it.

I was then left in the position of potentially registering her myself and knowing all her passwords. As a result, she decided not to invest with NS&I, which I think is a shame.

Go down alternative routes

One thing she could do is put the money into a cash ISA if she wanted to protect the money from paying interest on the growth, or put it into the highest-paying savings account with her local bank. They are not equivalent options though. You could ask the kids to do it, but then you risk the child taking the parents’ money.

The other option is to put it all on a platform and we will put it into a cash account there. However, the adviser will charge a fee for any money held on the platform. The interest and fee depend on the amount they are putting in.

Top tip

Do not risk security in the search for an answer.          

Lee Waters

Chief executive

Barwells Wealth

This is a constant problem with older clients who want to invest in cash, building societies and fixed rate bonds.

For years we have managed cash for clients. In the past we used paper-based and postal application forms, but now a lot of providers have moved away from those and are digital-only.

Listen to your clients

It is proving harder and harder to work around, just because of the number of firms that are online-only.

Because we grew out of a law firm, many of our clients are power of attorney or deputyship clients who want cash management. We have a power of attorney client who was able to open four accounts for her mother. We gave the advice as to where to put the money and left her to open the accounts, but with our guidance. The daughter is in her late 50s and she was struggling to manage the online aspect.

Offer offline help

We all assume everyone is computer literate; even big, progressive companies are guilty of this. After all, it is cheaper for companies to get everyone to manage accounts online.

However, there are some really good firms. Hodge Bank is brilliant. Everything is paper-based if that is your preference. They have a good attitude to opening accounts for people who do not want to go online.

Top tip

Seek companies with an inclusive attitude to IT literacy.


What Twitter thinks       

Phil Billingham, director, Perceptive Planning:

Pre-security checked apps for these accounts are useful if they are tied to one device. It helps people who struggle with login processes.

Also we can treat the cash account on a platform as the cash account for the client - manage their income and send income from that cash account to a nominated bank account.


Tish Hanifan, founder and joint-chairman, Society of Later Life Advisers:

This can have a negative impact on vulnerable older people who may lose a useful service or use informal third party access. Not ideal!

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