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Networks consider lighter touch on equity release

Networks review adviser’s roll in advising on equity release after regulator’s decision not to introduce standalone qualification.

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Major advice networks that ban members from directly handling equity release are reconsidering their approach.

Openwork, First Complete and Pink, who together have around 3,500 adviser members, are all considering letting their members write equity release business rather than refer cases on.

Openwork mortgage director John Cupis says the network will consult its members and could review its stance this year. But he adds: “To have the economies of scale to support and oversee supervision of equity release advice hasn’t been, up until now, cost justifiable.”

First Complete sales operations director Toni Smith says: “We expect lending into later life to be an area of growth for our network businesses and as such will further develop our offering.”

Many networks have either joined the Equity Release Council this year or are in talks about joining, opening the door to having their members join the trade body too.

Intrinsic, Light-house Group and Personal Touch Financial Services have all joined the ERC this year. Mortgage Intelligence, Stone-bridge and Tenet Lime are in talks to join but have not signed up yet. Sesame, with 900 adviser members, says it will join if there is enough demand.

In May, the FCA rolled back its plans to allow advisers to take a standalone qualification in equity release instead of becoming mortgage qualified up to level three in order to sell the product.

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Advisers back calls for standalone equity release qualification

More than 60 per cent of Personal Finance Society and Society of Mortgage Professionals members support the idea of a standalone equity release qualification to enable pensions and investment advisers to sell the products without having to be fully-qualified mortgage advisers. Currently advisers must be mortgage-qualified up to level three in order to advise on equity release. […]

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