Simon Chalk calls for end to face-to-face contact
Simon Chalk, managing director and later life planner of Laterliving now! Ltd, is calling for the suspension of all face-to-face contact with customers in the equity release space.
Chalk outlines that social distancing is unpractical for anyone entering a customer’s home, and is highly questionable even in a clean office environment.
Looking at each section of the equity release supply chain, Chalk believes that advisers should immediately suspend face-to-face appointments for their customers.
He highlights that advisers should now offer their service remotely, via phone-call, video-conferencing, or to defer until a safe return to face-to-face advice is possible.
Looking to Valuers, Chalk said that this step in the chain do have the tools to conduct desktop and drive-by valuations.
He added that drone footage and video tours taken by the homeowner could also be used.
Furthermore, Chalk is calling on the Equity Release Council to require that member-solicitor firms immediately switch to handling customers remotely, and temporarily banning face-to-face consultations.
Chalk added: “The chance of the odd case turning out to have been inappropriate in the future is far outweighed by the risk of our sector failing in its duty of care to keep our customers healthy, and safe, whilst continuing to provide the money they greatly need.
“We simply must not enter the homes of these people, until anyone doing so, has effective screening for COVID-19, or until this horrible situation has passed.
“Advisers, lenders, and solicitors all have difficult challenges to face in making decisions that may affect the Equity Release sector’s hard-fought-for excellent reputation for exacting, high standards.
“But it’s those very standards that serve to protect the most important people – our customers, that will see us through this crisis, and able to help many thousands more to enjoy their later life in comfort and security.”