Lack of qualifications holding back equity release advice

Robyn Hall

November 22, 2012

Research from Aviva showed that of this 38%, 9% regularly provided guidance and 29% said they occasionally provided help on products in this arena while a further 19% had a referral and 11% said they would try to provide advice if there was customer demand.

Roger Marsden, head of at retirement at Aviva, said: “Equity release products are more relevant than ever when you consider that for the majority of retirees housing equity is their largest single asset so it is interesting to see how advisers view this product suite. While 88% agree their clients may express an interest in equity release at some point during the advice process less than 40% say they had the relevant qualifications to help them and only 19% are able to refer clients with confidence.

“This suggests that many advisers are not currently in a position to help should a client express an interest in equity release which is a concern. The main barrier to engagement appears to be lack of qualifications although some intermediaries are still skeptical about the reputation and appropriateness of these products.”

Consumer research suggested that there were significant opportunities with equity release as 57% of consumers expected to have a mortgage free property when they retired compared to just 29% who believed they will have an private pension, 19% who expect to have cash investments and 17% who feel they will own stocks and shares investments.

With regards to making the most of their retirement finances, when a consumer spoke to an adviser, they expected a holistic approach which looked at all their assets. Over half (54%) of over-45s wanted to discuss how to use their total wealth to cover the cost of retirement and 60% were keen to identify how to make their finances as tax efficient as possible.

Although the majority of advisers offered their customers access to equity release 32% of advisers said that they do not provide advice on these plans and never would. When the research dug into the reasons behind this the highest percentage of intermediaries (46%) cited lack of relevant qualifications yet the relevant training materials are freely accessible on sites such as the Aviva Financial Adviser Academy.

In addition 20% were worried about the reputational risk posed by these products and 22% said they did not feel that they were currently ‘good value’.

Marsden added: “With the demand for equity release only likely to increase in the future we strongly urge advisers to consider gaining the necessary qualifications or setting up a referral relationship with a specialist. As intermediaries who deal with consumers every day know clients are looking for holistic advice and going forward helping them to consider how they can use their housing equity in retirement, either by downsizing or other means, should play a part in this.”

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