With people generally living and staying active for a longer retirement and older age could cover a period of 30 years or more. It’s a time that is very likely to involve making key decisions about money – including how to cover costs in the years ahead, from home improvements and holidays to care.
And whilst older age doesn’t always mean winding down, it could mean a greater likelihood of health problems or decreased mobility – which bring with them their own financial questions and costs.
The Older People Working Group – made up of experts from the public, private and third sectors – has highlighted that while many older people are happy with their financial position, a significant number of others are not so confident or comfortable.
Events often associated with ageing – like illness, bereavement or needing care – could leave them financially, as well as personally vulnerable. In our research on “vishing” scams, for example, we found that 80% of victims were over the age of 55.
Last year, one in four of the complaints resolved were referred to the Ombudsman by people aged over 55. And, in particular, older age groups are more likely than others to make contact about their mortgages. As case studies highlight, some people complain they’ve been treated unfairly by their mortgage provider when they reach the end of their mortgage term.
People sometimes say how they’ve been discriminated against because of their age – and feel their financial provider is relying on strict, inflexible rules. With evidence that older people tend to be the most loyal to financial providers, it’s understandable that these long-standing customers might be particularly sensitive to service that feels unfair.
To decide whether a business has acted fairly, the Ombudsman will check that they’ve followed their own policies, processes, and good practice in their area. But equally importantly, we’ll look for evidence that they’ve considered their customer’s individual circumstances. While we don’t always agree there’s been discrimination, we’ll look into how clearly the business explained their actions and decisions.