Monday 22nd September 2014
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2014
Macmillan can help people affected by cancer make sense of personal finance issues like pensions, insurance and mortgages, as Craig Syme explains
Have you ever felt confused by your insurance policy? Or struggled to understand how your pension scheme works? Or felt worried about making the wrong financial choices?
Decisions about personal finance can be confusing at the best of times, but attempting to make sense of the financial world can feel almost impossible following a cancer diagnosis.
Thankfully, there is help available. The Macmillan Financial Guidance Service is a dedicated team of financial experts who offer free and impartial guidance, information and support to anyone affected by cancer who would otherwise struggle to make sense of their financial options.
‘Unprecedented’ pilot success
The Financial Guidance Service began as a pilot in late 2011. For many years, Macmillan has provided benefits advice to customers across the country, but evidence showed that many customers were still missing out on help and support around personal finance matters.
The initial pilot was a huge success, with the evaluation results described as ‘unprecedented’ by the research company that produced the evaluation report. The Financial Guidance team became a permanent fixture on the Macmillan Support Line in February 2013 and has now helped more than 10,000 people directly, either from phone calls directly to the Macmillan Support Line or referrals from face-to-face services and professionals across the country.
Examples of financial guidance
We can help with a variety of situations. Many people have brought financial products that are designed to help when they reach a crisis in their lives, and want to know more about how they can now use these products. We talk to many people who have insurance policies, but have no idea if they can claim, how to claim or even how to interpret the policy documents. The Financial Guidance team can help with all of this.
We talk to customers who have pensions, sometimes several pensions from over the course of their career. Again, it can be difficult to understand pension or retirement options – especially after a cancer diagnosis. The Financial Guidance team, all of whom have previously worked in the financial services industry, are experts in making sense of complicated options and can help people prioritise and work out the best option to take.
We still don’t feel that enough people are fully aware of the Financial Guidance Service and the help we can provide. It is a common misconception that the Financial Guidance Service is an offshoot of Welfare Rights or Benefits Advice. Whilst we work in tandem with benefits advisers to make sure customers receive a holistic assessment of their financial needs, it is important we make a distinction about what we do.
People affected by cancer can contact our Financial Guides through the Macmillan Support Line. They are available Monday to Thursday, 9am–5pm and on Fridays 9am– 4.30pm.
Financial Guidance Team Leader