The Equity Release Council should rebrand, experts say

Ryan Bembridge

January 24, 2018

The Equity Release Council should change its name to demonstrate its remit as a later life body, three industry stalwarts have urged.

It’s now accepted that there are both residential and equity release solutions to the ‘interest-only time bomb’, while the Financial Conduct Authority is currently consulting on bringing back retirement interest-only mortgages.

With this in mind Ray Boulger, senior technical manager of John Charcol, argued that both the name of the council and the use of the term ‘equity release’ should be changed.

He said: “The problem with the Equity Release Council is the term equity release should be dispensed with altogether.

“A lot of the advertising in that sector is misleading. You get adverts of people repaying their mortgage with equity release when they’re remortgaging.

“The Equity Release Council needs to have a radical rethink. Assuming it wants to remain in existence one obvious way would be to rebrand itself as a later life body.

“Take equity release out of the name. That could do a really good job of highlighting the pros and cons between the lifetime mortgage and mainstream mortgage, particularly as the FCA releases information about retirement interest-only mortgages.

“There is a need for brokers to compare both types.”

Boulger went further, as he reckoned the FCA should step in to outlaw the term ‘equity release’ in favour of ‘lifetime mortgage’.

Keith Barber, director of business development at Family Building Society, seemed to agree with the idea of changing the name.

He said: “A change of approach by the Equity Release Council would encourage advice firms to reassess and get more advisers to offer equity release and residential side-by-side.

“The advice sector has been segregated with mortgages split into residential and equity release.”

And Steve Cox, business development manager for Hodge Lifetime, agreed that the issue should be looked at.

He said: “The council has done a lot of work to clean up public perception of what equity release is.

“I think changing the name should be considered because anything that brings the mainstream market and the equity release markets closer together is good for consumers and intermediaries.”

The industry body has changed its name before.

It was launched as Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP) in 1991 but was releanched as the Equity Release Council in 2012.

However not everyone is convinced.

Dean Mirfin, director of Key Retirement Solution, said: “I don’t think there’s a need for a rebrand.

“What else do you call it? What does ‘Later Life Council’ mean for consumers? Does a consumer know when ‘later life’ starts?

“It’s good that it’s being debated but I don’t think you should reinvent something until you think of something better.

“What’s more the industry is evolving – if you change the name you might have to change the name again down the line.”

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