Equity release advisers must broaden advice
Bridgewater is responding to the new pension income freedoms introduced by the government in April this year and the ongoing move towards providing a wider range of later life advice services.
Bridgewater believes advisers are increasingly likely to be working with clients who have more than a specific equity release need and who will want advice on a much greater array of services including mortgages, loans, pensions, life insurance, protection, long-term care and legal services.
It is urging specialist advisers to look at their own ability to provide advice in these areas and to either make the move towards a much fuller, 360-degree later life advice service, or to partner up with organisations who are able to facilitate this offering.
Chris Prior, sales and distribution manager at Bridgewater Equity Release, said: “It’s our belief that we are seeing the start of a move in terms of the advice needs of those in, or reaching, retirement.
“The pension freedoms have pushed this forward and we are now seeing clients who are looking for later life advice across a range of product areas, which will include the provision of equity release advice but not exclusively so.
“Equity release is a growing and increasingly important part of people’s likely retirement plans but there needs to be recognition that it is not the only one.
“This means that advisory firms may well need to stand back and look at their current service offering and proposition to see if it is fit for purpose when it comes to dealing with individuals’ later life needs.
“I suspect a number of equity release advisers will not yet be in such a position but this doesn’t mean they can’t adapt to the changing marketplace.”
Organisations such as the Later Life Academy can help firms adapt to these changing times.
Prior added: “It can be difficult to secure the necessary qualifications and product experience to branch out into different sectors, plus there is also the issue of establishing provider relationships, however organisations such as the Academy have a proposition to support such moves.
“No-one is denying that equity release is likely to grow in importance and the market is going to flourish, however advisers need to be prepared to support clients who are looking for much more than advice in one product area.
“This is therefore the perfect time to begin this transition, reshape the business and benefit from the wider needs of later life clients.”