Equity Release Council surpasses 300 member firms

Michael Lloyd

December 13, 2018

Membership of the Equity Release Council has increased annually by 46% to more than 300 member firms.

The council has also seen a 38% increase in registered individuals over the same period, rising from 673 in December 2017 to now stand at over 900.

David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “More people than ever now see the logic in considering their property wealth alongside their other assets when they make financial plans for later life.

“The continuing growth of our membership means consumers can benefit from best practice in the advice and products available from a market buoyed by competition, choice and consumer confidence.

“2018 has seen equity release cement its place as a mainstream financial product and become a valuable tool in later life financial planning.

“Increased product flexibilities are giving older homeowners a wider range of options to suit varied circumstances, while staying true to the principle of consumer protection that has underpinned the market for nearly 30 years.

“As demand continues to grow, it is paramount that we maintain this consumer focus while improving understanding of modern equity release.

“Members are also committed to exploring new avenues and innovations to help people safely access their property wealth in retirement to meet fundamental social needs.”

Having expanded its remit in 2012 from a provider-led body to be a representative voice for the whole sector, the council has seen significant growth in two key categories of adviser and solicitor firm membership with an annual increase of 47% and 46% respectively.

The membership milestone reflects the increasingly important role that equity release now plays within the retirement planning landscape.

In the 12 months to Q3 2018, more than 78,000 new and existing customers have used their housing wealth, while lending in Q3 2018 surpassed £1bn for the first time in any single quarter.

Customers of member firms receive three levels of protection encompassing: a structured financial advice process, independent face-to-face legal advice, and clear product safeguards.

As a result, the latest regulatory data from the Financial Conduct Authority shows that today’s equity release market attracts the fewest complaints among home finance products, both by volume and as a proportion of outstanding loans.

The council’s recommendation that equity release should be included among the home finance options signposted by the new Single Financial Guidance Body was taken up by the Communities and Local Government Committee’s Housing for Older People report in February 2018. And it was endorsed by government in its response in September 2018.

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