EQUITY RELEASE COUNCIL SURPASSES 300 MEMBER FIRMS AS
MORE CONSUMERS SEEK ADVICE ON PROPERTY WEALTH
- The Council’s membership has grown 46% since end of 2017 – reflecting the increasingly important role of equity release and property wealth in later life planning
- Rise in membership is coupled with steady market growth – over 78,000 new and existing customers have used housing wealth to meet diverse needs in the last year
- FCA data indicates that today’s equity release market attracts the fewest complaints among home finance products
- 2018 sees the development of The Council as it expands and strengthens executive team
Membership of the Equity Release Council (The Council) has increased annually by 46% to more than 300 member firms as property wealth becomes a common feature of later life financial planning conversations between consumers and advisers.
The Council has also seen a 38% increase in registered individuals over the same period, rising from 673 in December 2017 to now stand at over 900. Having expanded its remit in 2012 from a provider-led body to be a representative voice for the whole sector, The Council has seen significant growth in two key categories of adviser and solicitor firm membership with an annual increase of 47% and 46% respectively.
The membership milestone reflects the increasingly important role that equity release now plays within the retirement planning landscape. In the 12 months to Q3 2018, more than 78,000 new and existing customers have used their housing wealth to help meet diverse social needs¹, while lending in Q3 2018 surpassed £1 billion for the first time in any single quarter.
The growing representation of member firms is also testament to the influence of The Council’s consumer-focused standards and safeguards. Customers of member firms receive three levels of protection encompassing: a structured financial advice process; independent face-to-face legal advice; and clear product safeguards.
As a result, the latest regulatory data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shows that today’s equity release market attracts the fewest complaints among home finance products, both by volume and as a proportion of outstanding loans².
As the later life lending market continues to grow, equity release customers can now choose from an unprecedented range of product options and flexibilities. The Council and its members have backed efforts by industry and policymakers to improve consumers’ access to guidance on a rounded approach to later life financial planning – spanning pensions, savings, investments and property.
The Council’s recommendation that equity release should be included among the home finance options signposted by the new Single Financial Guidance Body was taken up by the Communities and Local Government Committee’s Housing for Older People report in February 2018, and endorsed by Government in its response in September 2018.
This year has also seen the expansion of The Council’s executive team, with the appointment of Jim Boyd as Chief Executive Officer in July 2018 to work alongside David Burrowes as Chairman and Donna Bathgate as Chief Operating Officer. The Council continues to engage with industry and government about practical solutions to support the UK’s ageing population. It also wants to continue to build consumer awareness of the high standard of equity release products and advice available today.
David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council, comments: More people than ever now see the logic in considering their property wealth alongside their other assets when they make financial plans for later life. The continuing growth of our membership means consumers can benefit from best practice in the advice and products available from a market buoyed by competition, choice and consumer confidence.
“2018 has seen equity release cement its place as a mainstream financial product and become a valuable tool in later life financial planning. Increased product flexibilities are giving older homeowners a wider range of options to suit varied circumstances, while staying true to the principle of consumer protection that has underpinned the market for nearly 30 years.
“As demand continues to grow, it is paramount that we maintain this consumer focus while improving understanding of modern equity release. Members are also committed to exploring new avenues and innovations to help people safely access their property wealth in retirement to meet fundamental social needs.”
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For further information, please contact:
Kia McLean or Amy Boekstein at Instinctif Partners, on 020 7427 2020 or email [email protected]
Notes to editors
¹ Common uses of equity release include: boosting retirement income, funding home improvements and adaptations, meeting lifestyle costs, enabling social care provision and providing intergenerational support.
² FCA data shows equity release products were the subject of 1,120 complaints in H1 2018 or 5.8 per 1,000 outstanding loans. This compares to other regulated home finance products (96,021 complaints or 10.1 per 1,000); unregulated home finance products (18,756 complaints or 6.9 per 1,000); second and subsequent charge products (2,956 complaints or 42.9 per 1,000); and impaired credit products (2,615 complaints or 32.1 per 1,000).
About the Equity Release Council
The Equity Release Council is the representative trade body for the equity release sector with over 300 member firms and over 900 individuals registered, including providers, regulated financial advisers, solicitors, surveyors and other professionals.
It leads a consumer-focused UK based equity release market by setting authoritative standards and safeguards for the trusted provision of advice and products. Since 1991, over 440,000 homeowners have accessed over £24bn of housing wealth via Council members to support their finances.
The Council also works with government, voluntary and public sectors, and regulatory, consumer and professional bodies to inform and influence debate about the use of housing wealth in later life and retirement planning.