Council publishes Best Practice Guide for advisers

The Equity Release Council has launched a Best Practice Guide to complement its Checklist for Advisers and support firms when discussing and documenting customer needs.

The detailed guide has been produced by the Council’s Standards Board, drawing on decades of experience from expert adviser members representing a variety of firms in the market.

The guide encourages advisers to respectfully and robustly challenge clients’ motivations, in order to identify a solution that best fits their short, medium and long-term needs.

It was designed to ensure consumers receive a high-quality and personalised service from their advisers and so that case files capture sufficient details.

In addition, it supports advisers to gather soft facts and record customers’ use of language to show why the advice and any product recommended is suitable for the individual circumstances.

The guide complements the recently expanded 24-point Checklist for Advisers and follows a review of the Council’s rules and guidance to confirm they are in line with the regulator’s latest thinking.

Together the two documents are designed to promote consistent advice for consumers and help advisers to satisfy regulatory requirements and the Council’s additional standards.

These standards ensure equity release customers receive the highest level of protection for any property-based loan in later life, with three layers of protection encompassing regulated financial advice, clear product safeguards and independent legal advice.

Chris Pond, Chairman of the Council’s Standards Board, said:

“As a standards-setter with almost three decades of experience, the Council continuously reviews and evolves its guidance for members to promote the highest standard of consumer protection.

“This new Best Practice Guide will be a valuable resource for new and experienced advisers as they seek to provide personalised advice to consumers and document their conversations.

“Our standards are based on extensive consultations with members and input from external parties, including the regulator. We support the FCA’s efforts to ensure all customers receive suitable advice on their options in later life.

“Our Checklist for Advisers and Best Practice Guide help to ensure a wide range of factors are explored in depth to identify the most appropriate way forwards to meet each customer’s long-term needs.”