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The importance of specialist advisors in the cost of living crisis

Elen Davies-Kay and Chloe Jones, IFAs at Frenkel Topping, share their expertise

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During such turbulent and uncertain times, with soaring costs and expenditure for people living with life-changing injury, the ability to maximise resources and spend effectively and efficiently is more crucial than ever. 

Here, Elen Davies-Kay and Chloe Jones, independent financial advisors with Frenkel Topping and specialists in advising individuals and their families who have sustained catastrophic injury, share their insight into the current situation and detail why specialist support is vital during these times

 

Who are Frenkel Topping Group and what makes you specialist advisors in life-changing injury cases?

Frenkel Topping brings together an array of businesses into one group which can deliver advice and support to our clients on a wide range of issues – this ranges from fund management and personal injury trusts advice, through to expert witness reports, case management, financial planning and benefits advice. Throughout all of our businesses, we are also committed to signposting our clients, offering advice where appropriate, and being by their sides as they rebuild their lives after catastrophic injury. 

We are both specialist independent financial advisors (IFAs) in supporting clients primarily in the personal injury and clinical negligence arena, working with individuals who have capacity as well as those, where Deputies are involved with clients who come under the jurisdiction of the Court of Protection. We have extensive track records in supporting seriously injured clients and their families from all walks of life. 

Our specialism means we are able to handle the multiple factors that need to be taken into consideration when we’re advising clients who have sustained life-changing injury, such as care packages and budgeting for treatments and therapies that could support their recovery both now and into the future. We can look at aspects like periodical payment orders, making sure the case settles correctly for them in the first instance and then making sure the funds are used in the best way possible. 

We also carry out expert witness work, which goes hand in hand with our roles as IFAs because we fully understand the litigation process and then the post-settlement process. We understand the whole journey our client has been on and is going through. 

What makes you stand out?

As well as our years of specialism in supporting clients after life-changing events, doing everything in our power to maximise the settlement they receive and ensure it delivers the support they need for the rest of their lives, the personal service we give to our clients is also something we are very proud of. 

We come to know our clients and their individual and unique circumstances, and we understand that there are many different presentations after a brain injury, or with a neurological condition or issue. We will simplify language, we use a lot of analogies, and use a ‘filing cabinet’ system in the way we explain things so they can compartmentalise – it’s really important they have as much understanding of what we’re doing for them as possible. We tailor our advice to our clients and their individual personality and needs – if there are additional ways we can support them, to enable them to feel included and central to the process at every stage, we will do that. 

We also recognise the impact of brain injury or other life-changing injury on whole families, and work closely with a number of charities to advise our clients where they can go for some support in an environment with others facing similar situations. Social opportunities are so important and we appreciate the value of doing all we can to enable that.

Being part of a group of companies, we have access to a range of specialist resources and expertise, all of which can prove invaluable to maximising a client’s position. We can deliver specialist benefits advice, advice on investing in personal injury trusts where there has been an award and understanding the taxation elements, and the need for cautiousness when looking at financial planning solutions. Our service is holistic and always focused on the needs of the client and their family, not only for today, but for the rest of their lives. 

The priority for us more than anything is taking away the financial pressures or considerations for a client, so they can fully concentrate on their rehabilitation and living life as comfortable and independently as possible.

The cost of living crisis poses a huge threat to the financial security of so many people. What are the main issues clients are facing?

The cost of living crisis is a huge concern. The cost of care is increasing, as well as the cost of the gas and electricity that is so vital in delivering this, both at home and in care and rehabilitation facilities. 

We are finding there is a lot of confusion around benefits entitlement, with regards to who can have what and what entitlement certain people have. There’s also fear around whether benefits and surpluses the Government are providing at the moment will continue. Our clients are experiencing a lot of anxiety around this. 

A big topic of discussion at present is about funding electricity for individuals who have got a brain injury or other life-changing injury, and support around keeping the medical and rehabilitation equipment going that they depend on.

One of our clients has a hydrotherapy pool which is very important in his rehabilitation, but they are heated and are very expensive to run. For this client and others, it is a case of perhaps keeping the pool heated means not having another form of therapy to make sure it’s affordable – people are missing out on something that could really benefit them both now and into the future. 

And in addition to therapeutic costs, the general cost of living your life is a concern in itself. The cost of food is expensive. The cost of building and adapting properties is massively increasing, with the rise in the cost of materials and labour increasing significantly over the past six to 12 months. 

There are many challenges facing our clients, and with which we can support them as best we can – this is a situation in which highly experienced advisors, who know their specialism inside out, can really make a difference. 

How can you advise clients to negotiate this crisis?

We don’t have a magical crystal ball to say what’s going to happen in the future, we can only best  plan, with our clients’ interests paramount throughout. 

The situation is of course very concerning, but as an advisor, you’ve got to be very certain in what you’re doing and believe in the work you’re doing for clients. The way forward is longer-term planning to maximise income and utilise budgets. 

For clients who have secured a financial settlement, longer term investment planning is the way forward and that’s what we confidently believe in, making sure that their financial plans and investing is absolutely spot on for them. 

We have a lot of tools that we use, cash flow analysis being one of them. That is key in trying to paint a picture of what the future could look like for the client; stress-testing that is hugely important as well. 

It’s also very important to manage expectations – the award they have received is there to meet their needs during a lifetime, our role and responsibility is to maintain this spending power over the clients lifetime.  

Are you able to support people who dont have a legal claim?

We are mindful that not all clients have a settlement or are able to access compensation, but nevertheless they will have different challenges that they still need help and support with. We would never refuse to help someone because they do not have a claim – we do not work in that way, and will make use of all of the signposting and community support that is possible. 

Where there isn’t a claim, the reliance upon the local authorities and Department for Work and Pensions is much greater, but it’s very important people are claiming all the correct benefits and receive all of the support and grants they are entitled to. We regularly advise people to make use of Citizens Advice and the website www.turn2us.org.uk

We are very proud of our own Charitable Foundation, the Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation Trust and the dedicated and passionate work carried out, which helps people who have not had a successful claim. This can be very valuable in enabling people to access not just financial help, but also the expert support which can make such a massive difference to their lives. 

We also work alongside a number of other invaluable charities, including Headway, the SIA and Child Brain Injury Trust and we are there to offer support in many different ways. 

  • Donations to the Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation make a huge difference to the lives of individuals and their families who have experienced debilitating injury or clinical negligence but were not able to claim financial support following the incident. To donate, use the donation form at ftcharitablefoundation.co.uk/donate to securely donate to the Charitable Foundation today
  • If you or a member of your family has experienced severe personal injury or clinical negligence, you may qualify for support through the Frenkel Topping Charitable Foundation. To find out more and apply, visit ftcharitablefoundation.co.uk/apply-for-support
  • For more information about the services offered by Frenkel Topping Group, and how they support lawyers and claimants throughout the litigation process, visit frenkeltoppinggroup.co.uk

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