WTW joins the equity release council

Multinational risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory company WTW (formerly Willis Towers Watson) has joined the Equity Release Council.

WTW offers professional consultancy services and data-driven, insight-led business solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital to make organisations more resilient, motivate workforces, and maximise performance.

WTW provides solutions to address recent regulatory challenges posed by the treatment of equity release for insurers, as advisors and as industry participants.

The firm works with key market players to advise across the full range of equity release client needs, including matching adjustment structuring enhancement, internal model and EVT in stress methodology development, internal rating and valuation modelling, as well as new product initiatives.

The addition of WTW means that Council membership now stands at 678 firms, encompassing product providers, financial advisers, solicitors, surveyors and other professionals encompassing every aspect of equity release market activity. Membership has grown by 42% in the last year.

The Council’s soaring membership figures demonstrate the growing popularity of equity release as a mainstream product offered by an increasing range of firms to meet diverse consumer needs in later life, from financial planning and intergenerational gifting to debt consolidation.

Modern equity release products provide secure and flexible finance for older homeowners, backed by strict safeguards embedded in the market for 30 years.

In 2021, over 75,000 new and returning customers accessed record amounts of property wealth via equity release products, with 24% year-on-year growth bringing total annual lending to £4.8bn.

Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council, said: “WTW is a welcome addition to our growing community of members, which is unique in that it brings together perspectives from across the market and encompasses all aspects of the customer journey.

“Our members’ input and expertise is vital to enhance equity release’s standing in the wider financial services industry, where it has become an important part of product portfolios and advice propositions for any firm with serious ambitions to meet the needs of older consumers in the round.

“WTW’s commitment to the market’s development as a Council member will help other firms to operate effectively and meet the expected increase in consumer demand for flexible products backed by stringent safeguards and protections.”

Anthony Plotnek, Director, Insurance Investment at WTW, said: “We are delighted to be joining the Equity Release Council as affiliate members to further support the growth and innovation of a key consumer product which provides long-term investors with a valuable asset. Our team of specialist advisors has a unique understanding of the issues faced with sourcing, modelling and managing equity release assets, and we look forward to sharing our learning from the challenges we have experienced both as advisors and in-house on projects across several annuity writers with ERM exposure.”