- An uncomfortable truth
- How this relates to Financial Advice?
- The missing piece in Financial Advice services
- The rise of Trauma Informed Practice standards in healthcare
- For those who like the detail
- What is a Trauma Informed Organisation?
- Trauma Informed Practice in Financial Advice
- Why this relates to Financial Advice
- How we do this in practice
- Why we do this
- Practical benefits to our clients
- Practical benefits to our team
- Risks to Clients are minimised
- Risks to Staff are minimised
- Why this matters and will determine the future of specialised Financial Advice delivery
An uncomfortable truth
Trauma affects us all, directly or indirectly.
Not all traumas are visible or obvious.
The uncomfortable truth is, many people live with the ongoing effects of past and present overwhelming traumas that can range from stigma and discrimination through to violence, abuse and terrible life events and experiences.
How this relates to Financial Advice?
Trauma often affects the way people approach potentially helpful relationships (Fallot & Harris, 2001). That includes Financial Adivers like ourselves.
Despite the large numbers of people affected, many of us rarely think about the possibility that someone we meet, speak with or provide professional services to, may have experienced trauma.
- This makes us less likely to recognise it
- This then increases our risk of inadvertently hurting (and potentially re-traumatising) the very people we seek to serve.
While many people will find a way to process their traumatic experiences and get on with life, some traumas have lasting effects that bleed over into all parts of our lives.
And of course, whatever affects our emotional state usually affects our health and financial situation too.
The missing piece in Financial Advice services
Such human insights are usually absent within financial advice practices, who traditionally have no structure, procedure or commercial interest in looking to incorporate these insights into the way the business delivers its services to its clients.
The rise of Trauma Informed Practice standards in healthcare
Trauma Informed Practice is currently emerging in the domain of health and children's services as a framework of how to deliver a service in a way that understands the impact of trauma in people's lives and values ‘how it's delivered’ as just as important as ‘what is delivers’.
- What Trauma Informed Practice it not: Becoming trauma informed is not about simply adding a quick additional layer of information gathering or customer segmentation.
- What Trauma Informed Practice is: A transformative process building upon itself and over time with the specific intent of 'operationalising' a more humane and compassionate service delivery.
At the very minimum, trauma informed services aim to do no further harm through unintentionally re-traumatising individuals by acknowledging that traditional business practices may be an inadvertent trigger for exacerbating trauma symptoms.
What is a Trauma Informed Organisation?
A trauma informed organization is recognised as ‘one in which all components of the system have been reconsidered and evaluated in the light of a basic understanding of the role that violence and trauma play in the lives of people seeking mental health and addiction services'. Jennings, 2009
Becoming trauma informed is about supporting our prospective clients and established clients to feel safe enough in their interactions with our financial and insurance services. Drew Browne
Trauma Informed Practice in Financial Advice
Sapience Financial & Investment and our specialty brand Unusual Risks Insured are the first Australian Financial Advice practice to proudly stand as a Trauma Informed Organization.
- We are fully committed to protecting the dignity and safety of our clients and staff.
To help us better deliver specialist Financial Advice we have redesigned all our systems, processes and customer interactions, informed by understanding the impact of trauma in the lives of those we seek to serve.
Why this relates to Financial Advice
Trauma often affects the way people approach potentially helpful relationships (Fallot and Harris, 2001).
Trauma resulting from community and family discrimination and stigma, can create additional and complex feelings of isolation that interrupts peoples seeking and forming helpful professional relationships; and as financial advisers, that directly relates to us. Drew Browne
This is because many trauma survivors feel unsafe, have good reason to distrust Banks and Superannuation Funds, and often have a good reason for their concerns about information privacy, stigma and discrimination within Australian Financial Advice practices.
How we do this in practice
The process is designed to be invisible to the client.
Whereas the medical community might use a questionnaire to screen for specific trauma events, we just assume all our clients are living with varying degrees of trauma histories and treat all our prospects and clients with a higher level of care.
Why we do this
Sapience is Financial Advice Practice and we’re legally required under the Corporations Act 2001 to both know our client and have a reasonable basis for giving personal advice.
- This is known as the 'suitability rule' or 'know your client' rule.
But as we’re also Specialist Risk Advice Practice and often get to know additional and sometimes far-reaching personal health information about our clients because of the legally mandated Legal Duty of Disclosure requirements of the Insurance Contracts Act.
Due to the Duty of Disclosure laws, where everyone making an application for insurance has to fully and frankly disclosed information as requested ...
... we can end up having deep insights into the confidential health and lifestyle information of our clients, recreational drug use, sexual histories, IVF, STIs, mental health, trauma events, depression and family health histories usually only spoken about in total privacy with their local Doctor or therapist. This is why we choose to be a Trauma Informed Organisation. Drew Browne
This legal requirement for full and frank disclosure about health and lifestyle issues can understandably create anxiety and apprehension many people for many reasons - and if not understood and supported, usually sees most people who would benefit from such advice, either abandoning the process or avoiding it altogether.
Practical benefits to our clients
Our prospects and clients are better served with safe and appropriate processes and services that are purposefully more accessible, more self-empowered and more informed about how to avoid unintentionally re-harming them as we work through our business practices and service delivery.
Practical benefits to our team
In a Trauma Informed environment trauma is everyone's responsibility. Staff and team members may have their own trauma histories and are vulnerable to secondary traumatisations from working with multiple people who have experienced significant life traumas.
Risks to Clients are minimised
Re-traumatised can occur when organisations (or financial advice services) inadvertently and unintentionally recreate the interpersonal patterns or situational context in which the original violence, stigma, judgment occurred.
Risks to Staff are minimised
Vicarious trauma is the accumulated emotional residue of prolonged exposure that counselors and advisers can have from ‘exposure to the pain of others’ (Figley, 1995)
Why this matters and will determine the future of specialised Financial Advice delivery
Implementing these values requires an organisational change every level where all team members and a fundamental reframing of the typical financial advice service relationships.
Without an understanding of the principles of Trauma Informed Service Delivery, a compassionate a technically excellent financial advice practice (and their customer interacting supplier) may inadvertently end up hurting the very people they are hoping to serve.
Unless all our financial advice services are trauma informed, even the best financial advice, may be inaccessible or ineffective.