The Faculty and Institute of Actuaries is to investigage why a broader range of financial services companies do not offer equity release products.
The F&IA is setting up a study group to ask if financial institutions such as pension funds, life offices, friendly societies and charities want to provide equity release mechanisms and if legislative or regulatory restrictions deter them.
The move is part of a broader study to investigate why relatively few people take advantage of the products.
The F&IA is concerned that elderly homeowners believe they cannot afford living costs, long term care, or home maintenance but may have valuable property from which some equity could be releaesd.
It believes that people in the south east England where property prices are highest could be sitting on a potential goldmine while struggling to make ends meet.
The Equity Release Group will look at older people's attitudes to and awareness of the schemes. The group will be chaired by Desmond Le Grys who is research director of the long term care umbrella group the Continuing Care Conference which brings together care groups, insurers and charities.
It will assess views on the impact of equity release on inheritances for children and grandchildren and whether the products are considered trustworthy.
The study will also collate information on all types of Equity Release Mechanisms (ERMs) to gauge their effectiveness and value for money.
Chairman of the Faculty and Institute of Actuaries' Aging Population Group Brian Ridsdale says: “Previous bad experience has left many old people wary of these types of products, so we intend to undertake a comprehensive research exercise to find out their views on all aspects of the issue.
“The challenge to the financial services industry is to develop attractive and appropriate products, properly regulated, in which older people, their families and the general public may all have complete confidence”.