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FSA looking at equity-release league tables

The FSA is considering bringing equity release into its controversial product league tables.

It is carrying out market research on equity release which it says is essential to help it understand how the market works, particularly as the topic of equity release is a sensitive one, given the vulnerable sector of the market the products are aimed at.

It is believed the research could lead to the construction of product league tables.

IFAs have criticised the tables in the past for only comparing products on their charges rather than their performance.

The tables include unit trust and Oeic Isas, investment bonds, endowments, personal pensions, stakeholder pensions, annuities, mortgages and mortgage endowments and were recently expanded to include savings accounts.

Product providers are wary of equity-release product league tables, asking what they will be based on as they do not believe equity-release products can be compared merely on the basis of headline interest rates.

Mortgage Express product development manager Roger Hillier says: “If this is aimed at helping the consumer, it would need to include a whole host of criteria from interest rate to APR to what the broker is charging. You could do a straightforward interest rate but this would only paint a small part of the picture.”

Norwich Union director of personal finance Mark Kelly says: “We would want to make sure this is done to reflect all aspects of the product but we would support greater transparency – the more information in the market the better.”

FSA spokesman Rob McIvor says: “We have not ruled equity release out of our comparison tables but we are not committed to doing it yet. We do this sort of research to gather information about the market and to maintain our understanding of the industry we are regulating.”


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