The intermediary market has moved a step closer to having a a standalone equity release qualification after the Financial Conduct Authority launched a consultation into the matter.
The move follows feedback from the market that the current structure of qualifications may be stopping equity release products getting out to a wider audience.
As such the regulator is considering either launching a standalone equity release qualification, or topping up existing pensions or investment qualifications.
Stuart Wilson, channel marketing director at innovative equity release lender, more 2 life, welcomed the move.
He said: “We are strongly encouraging more advisers to move into retirement lending and we are pleased to see the FCA is listening and starting to address this issue.
“This market has evolved from being somewhat niche into a specialist advice market and we need to raise awareness about retirement lending if this industry wants the lifetime mortgages sector to grow. To achieve this goal, we would like to see more advisers entering this space, getting the qualification and advising on equity release, or at least talking to their clients about retirement lending and then referring them on to a specialist advisory firm if they cannot deliver the advice themselves – this is certainly not a market for “dabblers” and as the market continues to grow and evolve, advisers in this space need to keep pace with the widening range of options opening up for today’s retirees.
“We have both the supply and demand for equity release, but not the adviser numbers needed to support the tripling of the market size, which is what we expect to happen by 2020 with lifetime mortgages hitting the £5bn barrier.
“The FCA is proposing two solutions to the problem, either a fully standalone equity release qualification, or by topping up existing pensions or investment qualifications advisers already have. We would welcome either move but essentially want a resolution that is in the interest of the adviser whilst allowing us as an industry to maintain the high standards put in place by the Equity Release Council to ensure the best possible outcome for consumers.
“The lifetime mortgages market is on the cusp of a breakthrough with more funding and lenders entering the market space but we need the advisers to help us support this surge.”