Committed to helping solicitors and divorcing couples

Whilst it is likely that you will know of BlueSKY from our Pension Sharing Reports, it is certainly not the only area where we assist separating couples, solicitors and mediators.

As Financial Planners, we increasingly find ourselves being asked to put our financial planning skills to work in other ways. Recently, we have been asked to ‘cash-flow model’ proposed settlements, act as ‘shadow experts’, and help clients rebuild their financial life after divorce.

Committed to helping solicitors and divorcing couples

As a sign of our commitment to helping solicitors and divorcing couples in these areas, we headed to Birmingham for the inaugural Resolution Financial Planning on Divorce and Separation (FPDS) Conference.

The conference was sold out, with Financial Planners, Actuaries, Solicitors and Barristers all in attendance. One of the first speakers got straight to the heart of the problem (and arguably the key reason for the conference):

  • 10,000 Family Lawyers in the UK
  • 6,500 Resolution members (5,300 from the legal profession, 1,000 accredited mediators and 265 Financial Advisers)
  • Only 27 Resolution Accredited Financial Specialists

As the complexity associated with investments and pensions increases, the number of specialists is simply too few to meet the increased demand that will surely result. So, how can the numbers of specialists be increased?

It’s a difficult task to achieve and it certainly won’t happen overnight. For example, a Financial Adviser will need to have several of the most complex Financial Services qualifications under their belt just to apply to Resolution.

Furthermore, they will also need to be sponsored, be able to show evidence of working with divorcing couples and complete a Financial Accreditation examination (no easy task). There are no plans to make entry easier and the bar needs to be left high.

‘We can’t do it all’, was the call from solicitor, arbitrator and mediator James Pirrie of Family Law in Partnership, as he spoke passionately about the need for solicitors to engage with professionals from other fields. In his view, a team approach utilising several specialists was likely to lead to quicker, better and even less costly settlements in many divorce cases.

We counted around ten Financial Specialists in attendance at the conference and several of those spoke to the audience about their experiences (the good and the bad) over the years. Many of the tales resonated with our own experiences, especially those that highlighted how technical knowledge played second fiddle to the comfort that we could provide by employing patience, empathy and understanding when working with divorcing couples.

A more detailed overview of the day is to be found in the forthcoming issue of the Resolution publication The Review (issue 201), written by our very own Jeremy Jackson.

Pensions Advisory Group (PAG) Publication – Due in July

The Conference did not pass without mention of the pending Pensions Advisory Group (PAG) report, which should be with us within weeks.

If you don’t already know, the intention of the PAG report is to promote a greater level of understanding of pensions and divorce and to agree a common framework for pension specialists working in this area.

There is a great deal of anticipation surrounding the report and it is likely to be extremely detailed and thorough. It is our intention to review the report as close to publication as possible and to issue an abridged summary of the key points to all our solicitor contacts.

Training and CPD

The conference also provided a great deal of food for thought about how we could make the training that we already provide to our solicitor and mediator contacts even better.

We enjoy running training sessions in a relaxed and informal manner over a cup of coffee and in the comfort of your office. Naturally, our training remains a bias towards pensions and the pitfalls to avoid.

Increasingly, however, we also discuss the role of a ‘Shadow Expert’ (i.e. having a Financial Specialist as part of your team) as well as running through the merits of cashflow modelling and how it can help to ‘road test’ a potential financial settlement. Both of these things help to shed light on how life may look once the divorce has been finalised.

If you would be interested in receiving some training or haven’t had any training from BlueSKY in the last 18 months or so, then please do make contact. Email or call 01189 876655.