A survey conducted by Paradigm found that 96% of all advisers said they believed equity release products can help solve issues such as a client’s lack of pension savings or dealing with an interest-only mortgage in retirement or paying off other types of debt after they have finished working.
Bob Hunt, chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services, said: “Our survey on this sector has certainly highlighted a growing interest in equity release advice whilst at the same time most respondents acknowledge they have work to achieve in order to make it a flourishing part of their business.
“There is certainly a belief in the solution that equity release can provide for those in or reaching retirement and needing to raise cash in order to either boost their standard of living or deal with problems such as paying off debt or funding long-term care provision.”
However Paradigm believes that improvement is needed in terms of utilising the equity release solution and ensuring a wider range of clients are aware of the product and the potential benefits it could provide.
Only 33% of respondents were qualified or had a qualified individual within the firm to offer advice on equity release while only 10% said they proactively marketed their services in this sector.
When asked why equity release advice was not a top marketing priority a number of advisers suggested the products were currently expensive for clients or they were currently focused on other market opportunities.
Hunt said: “Whilst advisers are aware of equity release products and their potential far fewer than half are either qualified to advise themselves or have someone in their firm who can do the job.
“Of course the referral option is always available however most respondents suggested they would like to deal with clients in-house.
“Paradigm is working with providers and specialist advisers in this sector to make both options available to our members.”
The research also revealed that 50% of those who are not currently qualified are interested in obtaining the necessary qualifications.
Hunt continued: “We want to support those seeking their equity release qualifications whilst at the same time offering those who wish to refer access to those specialists who can complete the case in a timely and professional manner.
“We’re also enthused by the fact over two-thirds of advisers are looking for support in this area and to that end we will be seeking to deliver that support via a number of events, webinars and relevant updates.
“Certainly, as the number of people retiring increases along with the length and costs of retirement we envisage equity release becoming a far more popular and necessary part of an adviser’s toolkit.
“This is why Paradigm is looking to support our firms in as many ways as possible to help advisers deliver consistently in this area.”