"We know that financial advisers can find themselves in difficult conversations with customers and want help on how to respond."
A new guide has been launched to help support advisers when talking about suicide-related issues with their clients.
The guide was developed by Action for Suicide Prevention in Insurance (ASPiiN), which is a voluntary group of individuals from across the protection insurance industry.
The guidance includes why a customer may want to talk about suicide when discussing insurance, signposting to sources of information and support, access to insurance for customers, and what language to use.
One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds, resulting in more than 700,000 deaths every year.
Research undertaken by ASPiiN indicates that there is an increasing demand for suicide prevention training. So, to complement the guide, a Directory of Training Resources has been compiled to help provide practical support, including a list of where firms and individuals can go to get training.
The aim is to help financial advisers, along with the wider financial services community, to increase their understanding of the issues relating to suicide. This includes becoming more confident in identifying and supporting customers, or potential customers, who may be suicidal.
Fraser Ballantine, chair of ASPiiN, said: “I learned the heart-breaking, very personal impact of suicide when my best friend took his own life. Through ASPiiN’s work we know that financial advisers can find themselves in difficult conversations with customers and want help on how to respond. ASPiiN’s aim is to help advisers to have empathetic, clear, and open conversations about mental health challenges and suicide with customers. Working with the Samaritans, we’ve produced guidance that we hope will help financial advisers create content for websites and digital communications that talk about suicide and raise awareness. There’s also a suicide prevention training directory filled with organisations and resources that can help. Our aim is to help develop a valuable resource for the whole industry. By working together, we can hopefully help prevent suicide from affecting more customers and friends.”
Alan Knowles, managing director at Cura and chair of the Protection Distributors Group (PDG), added: “Some protection conversations require discussions about mental health, which is difficult for everyone involved. There’s the possibility that products will come with a mental health exclusion, a proposal that needs to be discussed with great sensitivity and care. As advisers, many of us are also the first port of call for a claim. This means that we may receive calls from people who have just lost a parent, partner, or child. We may find ourselves speaking to customers in some of their most vulnerable times. We wanted to support ASPiiN in this important work, as we believe that advisers have a duty in helping to identify clients, who may be at risk.”
Michele Golunska, CEO at Sesame Bankhall Group, commented: “The suicide of a family member, colleague or a friend causes great distress, and casts a very long shadow for those who are left behind. Financial advisers might find themselves in a situation where they have real concerns over a customer’s health and welfare. Financial advisers are professionals in what they do, but they are not trained counsellors. We need to help equip them with the right information, so they can signpost customers to the right sources of expert assistance. SBG’s support for this initiative builds on the extensive work already undertaken by ASPiiN in partnership with the PDG. It’s an initiative that’s been developed by a range of industry experts with knowledge of this subject working collaboratively. If it has a positive impact on just one person’s life, then the effort will be worthwhile.”