Who we are

The Equity Release Council represents the equity release sector and exists to promote high standards of conduct and practice in the provision of and advice on equity release which have consumer safeguards at its heart.

These standards and safeguards have allowed the sector to grow, giving financial advisers and their customers confidence in the products, dispelling myths about equity release, and educating the public about the potential to access the wealth in their home for a variety of uses.

The reputation and standing of the brand and the trust developed has seen its membership grow, bringing the sector together and helping it strengthen its voice: providers of equity release plans, solicitors, intermediaries, financial advisers, consultants, surveyors and other industry professionals – all committed to the Principles of membership. The Council builds on this unified voice of its members, while remaining independent from the specific views of individual member firms or particular segments of the equity release market.

Our values

The Council is guided by four brand values which guide everything it does. They are:

Authoritative : To be at the vanguard of substantiated, credible, evidence-led market insights, knowledge and data.

Progressive: To be the advocate of market change, innovation, betterment and reform.

Incisive : To have clarity of thought, commitment of decision making and the rigour to deliver the right solution.

Trustworthy: To inspire confidence, reliability and transparency across all stakeholders.

 

Main Board

We are supported by a framework of contributors to our work primarily drawn from the membership who have in-depth knowledge and experience of this sector and of the wider socio-economic environment.

Subject to a set of Articles of Association, the directors appointed to the main board of the Equity Release Council are responsible for the management of the Council’s business. Currently there are five members elected from within the membership by the membership on a cycle of two year terms of office, and there are is one director that have been appointed by those elected to serve to oversee the running of the Council, which is the Chairman.

These six represent a transitionary board. The Council is in the middle of adopting a new governance structure that will eventually see it led by a board of three wholly independent directors.

Find a Board Member

MEMBER NAME

COMPANY NAME

David Burrowes

Chair of the Equity Release Council

David has been a practising solicitor for 25 years. During this time, he was first a Councillor in Enfield and then Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate between 2005 and 2017. David championed social justice and consumer protection and led campaigns on issues affecting elderly people. David served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three Cabinet Ministers and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees and was also Shadow Justice Minister from 2007-2010. David lives in Southgate with his wife Janet and their six children.

Claire Barker

Equilaw, Solicitor representative

Claire has worked as a solicitor in property law since qualification, some twenty years ago.  She has specialised in advising homeowners about the legal aspects of equity release schemes since 2001 and created the Equilaw brand in 2007.  Claire and two partners carried out a management buyout in 2010 and recreated Equilaw in its current guise in May of that year.  In February 2019, Equilaw attracted a multi-million pound investment from private equity house, BGF and the team is now focused on continuing to provide expert, accessible and convenient service throughout England and Wales, but with a heavy emphasis on the use of the latest technology.  Claire is passionate about maintaining the highest standards for Equilaw’s clients and has sought to assist solicitors nationally by helping to re-write the Rules and Guidance for lawyers during her time on the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, of which she has been a member since its inception.

Tom Evans

MD, Canada Life Home Finance

Tom joined Canada Life (then trading as Stonehaven and later as Retirement Advantage) as Finance Director in June 2011 and was subsequently appointed as Managing Director of the home finance business in September 2014. He has overseen nearly tenfold growth in the home finance business since he joined, with a relentless focus on enhancing the customer proposition and improving the adviser experience.

Prior to joining Canada Life, Tom has 10 years financial services experience in Blue Chip companies, including Ernst & Young LLP, and Phoenix Group Insurance. Tom has been a qualified Chartered Accountant (ICAS qualified) since 2005, and graduated from The University of Warwick with 1st Class Honours degree in MORSE.

Vanessa Owen

Vice President, Private Markets UK of Reinsurance Group of America

Barry Meeks

Barry is an experienced portfolio independent non-executive director with overall board experience going back some thirty years.

Over the last decade he has been a regulator approved independent non-executive director at: three challenger banks; two IFA wealth/mortgage networks and a directly authorised broker; two IT and mortgage outsourcing companies; a building society; and a peer-to-peer lender.

Mike Hughes

Mike has been an avid supporter of the later life sector for many years. As sales and marketing director of Legal & General Bank, he developed an equity release product that became market-leading shortly after launch in 2001.

All of his career Mike has been involved in the regulated financial services sector. He worked at a top 10 building society for ten years before it demutualised. He was CEO of the longest established IFA network with over 500 advisers which specialised in investment and pension planning. Mike was also involved with the launch one of the first banks to be approved by the newly-formed FCA.

 

David Burrowes

Chair of the Equity Release Council

David has been a practising solicitor for 25 years. During this time, he was first a Councillor in Enfield and then Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate between 2005 and 2017. David championed social justice and consumer protection and led campaigns on issues affecting elderly people. David served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three Cabinet Ministers and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees and was also Shadow Justice Minister from 2007-2010. David lives in Southgate with his wife Janet and their six children.

Claire Barker

Equilaw, Solicitor representative

Claire has worked as a solicitor in property law since qualification, some twenty years ago.  She has specialised in advising homeowners about the legal aspects of equity release schemes since 2001 and created the Equilaw brand in 2007.  Claire and two partners carried out a management buyout in 2010 and recreated Equilaw in its current guise in May of that year.  In February 2019, Equilaw attracted a multi-million pound investment from private equity house, BGF and the team is now focused on continuing to provide expert, accessible and convenient service throughout England and Wales, but with a heavy emphasis on the use of the latest technology.  Claire is passionate about maintaining the highest standards for Equilaw’s clients and has sought to assist solicitors nationally by helping to re-write the Rules and Guidance for lawyers during her time on the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, of which she has been a member since its inception.

Tom Evans

MD, Canada Life Home Finance

Tom joined Canada Life (then trading as Stonehaven and later as Retirement Advantage) as Finance Director in June 2011 and was subsequently appointed as Managing Director of the home finance business in September 2014. He has overseen nearly tenfold growth in the home finance business since he joined, with a relentless focus on enhancing the customer proposition and improving the adviser experience.

Prior to joining Canada Life, Tom has 10 years financial services experience in Blue Chip companies, including Ernst & Young LLP, and Phoenix Group Insurance. Tom has been a qualified Chartered Accountant (ICAS qualified) since 2005, and graduated from The University of Warwick with 1st Class Honours degree in MORSE.

Vanessa Owen

Vice President, Private Markets UK of Reinsurance Group of America

Our Team

MEMBER NAME

David Burrowes

Chair of the Equity Release Council

David has been a practising solicitor for 25 years. During this time, he was first a Councillor in Enfield and then Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate between 2005 and 2017. David championed social justice and consumer protection and led campaigns on issues affecting elderly people. David served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three Cabinet Ministers and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees and was also Shadow Justice Minister from 2007-2010. David lives in Southgate with his wife Janet and their six children.

Chris Pond

Standards Board Chair, Equity Release Council

Former Labour MP, Minister with Department for Work and Pensions and Parliamentary Private Secretary with HM Treasury under Gordon Brown. A former lecturer in Economics, Chris was also a director at the FSA (Financial Services Authority – precursor to the FCA.

Jim Boyd

Chief Executive of the Equity Release Council

Jim Boyd, Chief Executive Office, the Equity Release Council Jim was appointed CEO of the Equity Release Council in June 2018. He joined from Reform think tank, where he was Deputy Director and Head of Research. Prior to this he was an Expert Adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions, initially supporting Lord Freud, then Welfare Reform Minister. Jim has extensive experience of retirement and social care funding having led the Corporate Affairs functions at specialist life assurers Britannic Retirement Solutions, Just Retirement and Partnership Assurance. He is an adviser to the Intergenerational Longevity Commission-UK, a leading longevity, ageing and population change policy unit. Jim is a former tax and trusts lawyer.

Donna Francis

Chief Operating Officer, Equity Release Council

Donna is the Equity Release Council’s Chief Operating Officer and has been in this role since 2013. Her responsibilities include overseeing the governance and operational day to day delivery of the Equity Release Council, including the development of its membership propositions, and oversight of a key committee focused on conduct risk. Having started her financial services career with LV= Donna has a history with other professional bodies such as the Life Insurance Association (LIA) before joining the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) as Head of Marketing Operations and Strategic Projects where she was responsible for a number of the professional body’s major Business Improvement Programmes including the launch of The Personal Finance Society and The Society of Mortgage Professionals.

Simon Posner

Public Affairs Consultant

Sarah Hall

Administration and Service Manager

Sarah has been work with the Equity Release Council for over 10 years. Having previously worked for an equity release financial adviser and Sun Life of Canada for over 20 years. Sarah is the Administration and Service Manager for Equity Release Council and deals with all aspects of the membership process, onboarding new members and dealing with the renewals and any membership queries.

Allyson McAlister

Communications Officer

Jennifer Logue

Executive Personal Assistant and Admin Support

Jennifer joined the Equity Release Council in 2022 as an executive PA and admin support. She has over 15 years’ experience in administrative roles in local government and healthcare, in both public and private sector settings. Jennifer has a degree from the University of Surrey and now lives in Essex with her family.

Kelly Melville-Kelly

Head of Risk, Policy and Compliance

Kelly brings over 20 years of financial services expertise, working with both lenders and networks in later-life lending, helping to drive improvements and create best practice. Kelly has previously held regulated positions at Alliance & Leicester and Legal & General.

Sue Read

Risk, Policy and Compliance Manager

Sue has a wide range of experience as a business development manager, underwriter, operations manager, trainer, compliance officer and, most importantly, adviser, across a several firms and networks. This breadth, covering over 30 years, provides a unique insight into both consumer and adviser perspectives.

Chris Fay

Communications Manager

Chris is a former journalist who has worked in media and communications for almost 20 years. He spent the first decade working in the newspaper industry before moving to consumer-focused trade bodies and professional bodies. He worked for the National Pharmacy Association and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute before joining the Council in 2019.

Laura Gibson

Membership Business Development Manager

Laura has spent more than 12 years working within the non-profit/membership sector. She has a strong background in project management, product and service development, communications and business operations.

With a passion for people and all things membership, Laura is an enthusiastic collaborator who thrives at building professional relationships, cultivating meaningful partnerships, and takes pride in developing and implementing initiatives that increase relevance, diversity and value to membership communities.

Laura Hall

Administration Assistant

Laura started working in financial services on an apprenticeship scheme with St James’s Place, since leaving the apprenticeship scheme she has been working with Equity Release Council as an Administration Assistant. Laura deals with the onboarding of the new members, helping the application process to go smoothly and liaising with members.

Liz Barclay

Independent Standards Board Member

Liz Barclay is a broadcaster, writer and consumer champion: Financial Inclusion Commissioner; Chair of the Money Advice Liaison Group, the Fair by Design Campaign (to tackle the poverty premium) and the BSI Consumer Forum; non-executive Director of the Lending Standards Board; and a member of the Fundraising Regulator Standards Board and the Equity Release Council Standards Board. She is an Ambassador for the Money Advice Trust, Business Debtline, and IPSE the organisation for freelancers and the self-employed.

Liz also works with Boards on improving governance, trust and culture, diversity, and customer understanding, and is passionate about improving service and engagement. She coaches in communication and presentation skills and chairs national and international conferences.

Jim Dredge

Independent Standards Board Member

Jim has worked as a self-employed management consultant since 2011. He specialises in proposing the approaches and driving the appropriate strategy for consumer driven topic areas.

Jim draws on over 30 years’ senior management experience of the retail financial services arena, primarily gained with Lloyds, Barclays and the Financial Services Authority (now the FCA), as well as an Independent member of the Equity Release Council Standards Board.

He has a passion for ensuring that the interests of customers are considered at all times and that financial products and services are simple to understand and jargon free creating an environment where there is no dissymmetry of information between the firm and customer.

David Burrowes

Chair of the Equity Release Council

David has been a practising solicitor for 25 years. During this time, he was first a Councillor in Enfield and then Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate between 2005 and 2017. David championed social justice and consumer protection and led campaigns on issues affecting elderly people. David served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three Cabinet Ministers and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees and was also Shadow Justice Minister from 2007-2010. David lives in Southgate with his wife Janet and their six children.

Chris Pond

Standards Board Chair, Equity Release Council

Former Labour MP, Minister with Department for Work and Pensions and Parliamentary Private Secretary with HM Treasury under Gordon Brown. A former lecturer in Economics, Chris was also a director at the FSA (Financial Services Authority – precursor to the FCA.

Jim Boyd

Chief Executive of the Equity Release Council

Jim Boyd, Chief Executive Office, the Equity Release Council Jim was appointed CEO of the Equity Release Council in June 2018. He joined from Reform think tank, where he was Deputy Director and Head of Research. Prior to this he was an Expert Adviser at the Department for Work and Pensions, initially supporting Lord Freud, then Welfare Reform Minister. Jim has extensive experience of retirement and social care funding having led the Corporate Affairs functions at specialist life assurers Britannic Retirement Solutions, Just Retirement and Partnership Assurance. He is an adviser to the Intergenerational Longevity Commission-UK, a leading longevity, ageing and population change policy unit. Jim is a former tax and trusts lawyer.

Donna Francis

Chief Operating Officer, Equity Release Council

Donna is the Equity Release Council’s Chief Operating Officer and has been in this role since 2013. Her responsibilities include overseeing the governance and operational day to day delivery of the Equity Release Council, including the development of its membership propositions, and oversight of a key committee focused on conduct risk. Having started her financial services career with LV= Donna has a history with other professional bodies such as the Life Insurance Association (LIA) before joining the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) as Head of Marketing Operations and Strategic Projects where she was responsible for a number of the professional body’s major Business Improvement Programmes including the launch of The Personal Finance Society and The Society of Mortgage Professionals.

Work for us

The equity release industry is growing fast and as its dedicated trade association, so are we! Follow the link below to view our latest roles:

Check for Roles