Equity Release Council updates industry standards

Jessica Nangle

November 6, 2019

The Equity Release Council has updated its industry standards in what is being called its largest evolution since it was established in 2012.

The update introduces an approach based on principles and consumer outcomes which reflects the latest thinking in financial services regulation and complements existing rules, safeguards and protections.

Its purpose is to ensure that equity release products and services continue to deliver good outcomes for customers.

The process was overseen by the council’s standards board, with the resulting update being effective from 1 January 2020.

Chris Pond, chair of the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, said: “The standards are fundamental to the council’s work to lead a customer-focused market, and today’s launch is an important milestone in nearly thirty years of protecting consumers’ interests.

“The aim of the review was to ensure that the standards reflect emerging trends in regulation and are future proofed for a world where retirements needs are constantly changing.

“The renewed focus on principles and outcomes alongside existing rules and guidance will help to ensure that equity release products and services continue to meet customer needs.

“The standards which council members commit to, above and beyond their regulatory duties, provide the ultimate reassurance to consumers that equity release products are safe and reliable.”

This update comes as membership of the council has increased to more than 300 firms and 1,000 individuals.

The latest standards’ update reinforces the existing focus on providing appropriate support to customers who may be exposed to physical, mental and financial vulnerability at any point of contact.

David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, added: “The UK population is ageing rapidly, and people are having to make increasingly complex decisions over longer lives in retirement.

“Elderly consumers face a wide range of products and services to meet different and often competing needs – from providing additional retirement income and meeting the costs of care to providing early inheritance to family and friends.

“Today’s landscape demands a joined-up approach to later life financial planning that considers all wealth and assets.

“Longstanding provisions for equity release customers, such as the guarantee of independent legal counsel, have set a high benchmark for delivering advice in the later life arena.

“Our updated standards build on these guarantees to ensure they are fit for modern day purposes.

“They recognise that the best outcomes can often be achieved in different ways, by combining clear rules with overarching principles which all members sign up to.

“These will continue to evolve in future to meet the ever-more complex challenges facing consumers.”

The process was overseen by the council’s standards board, with the resulting update being effective from 1 January 2020.


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