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‘FSA equity release call will harm sector’

Concerns have been raised that the FSA’s request for firms which do small amounts of equity release to stop doing so could harm the sector.

The fear is that brokers will be forced out of the market rather than being encouraged to train at a time when the industry is urging more intermediaries to enter the sector.

The regulator’s call came as it delivered the results of its latest mystery-shopping exercise into the sector last week, which revealed that standards have improved but that the industry still has some way to go.

Scottish Widows head of product development & marketing Murdo McHardy says: “We would all like to see more brokers involved but the FSA coverage will continue to put high-street brokers off this market.”

But some experts think the FSA had no choice but to issue its demand as standards are said to be low among firms that do a small amount of equity release business.

Provider In Retirement Services, which set up an outsourcing service for advisers in March, has already seen an increase in business this week.

Safe Home Income Plans chairman Jon King says: “From August 2007, members will no longer accept business from advisers who do not hold qualifications. By insisting that advisers are qualified, we will stop brokers dabbling.”


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