A new breed of homeowner is emerging in the UK – 30-somethings who are using the equity in their homes to give up the corporate rat race and do something more meaningful with their lives.
Armed with the equity in their property and flexible mortgages, this generation is turning its back on institutions and corporates in favour of new career paths, organic lives, risk and adventure.
This new breed presents significant opportunities for the savvy adviser.
Shifting demographic trends and changes in attitude have never been more important to advisers as they find themselves in an environment of extreme change.
The combination of higher costs, misselling scandals, uncertain stockmarkets and depolarisation means advisers could be in for a bumpy ride in the near future.
The most recent trends in the mortgage market have been identified in a new report by The Future Laboratory, commissioned by Standard Life Bank, and they will inevitably change the way that introducers target customers.
The report found that four key groups of mortgage customers are using the equity built up in their properties to make life-changing decisions.
The growth in property values in the last five years, coupled with the introduction of flexible mortgages which allow homeowners to draw down money to fund projects other than home improvements, has given these groups the impetus to change the way they live.
The first group is cross-shifters. As the name suggests, cross-shifters are abandoning the corporate rat race in favour of their own career paths. With successful career experiences behind them, they can make the transition smoothly and successfully but they are not disappearing to the country to try organic farming.
They have tech-heavy, aff-luent, urban lifestyles and they want to transfer into equally lucrative roles, often starting their own businesses, without compromising their ability to earn.
The second group, new authentics, is as dissatisfied with the soulless corporate grind but that is where the similarities end. This group is prepared to halve their salaries to improve their quality of life and they are seeking out an organic, hands-on way of life.
This group is likely to move to the country, the coast or abroad and many would consider building their own homes. New authentics want to learn and gather knowledge as well as experience life-changing moments and are prepared to take risks.
But it is the third group, high-earner, risk-open (hero), which is the most prepared to take risks. Like cross-shifters and new authentics, they have money and skills behind them but they are prepared to risk everything in search of adventure and in pursuit of their dreams.
They feel let down by the baby boomer generation, which has not changed the world, and they want to take matters into their own hands.
The fourth and final group is contrasexuals who are stronger and more independent than their male counterpart, the metrosexual.
Contrasexuals are women in their late 30s who are leaving behind their Sex In The City nights out with friends in favour of a more adventurous approach to life.
Far from the stereotype popularised by Bridget Jones of needy single women obses-sed with finding a suitable husband, contrasexuals are turning their backs on nesting impulses.
Advisers must examine their client base to identify these emerging groups. These people will most likely not be seeking solely traditional investments such as pensions and unit trusts but will be looking for advice which will provide a financially secure future that, most importantly, also enables financial freedom.
The key point for advisers to take away from this latest insight into the face of modern Britain is that, increasingly, customers are not burdened by the idea that a mortgage is a financial millstone. Instead, they are using their mortgages to break out of unsatisfying jobs and lifestyles.
In an environment full of change and challenges for advisers, new business opportunities are more important than ever and advisers are realising that offering clients only core investment and pension options is no longer enough.
Standard's research gives IFAs the opportunity to identify and address the changing desires and aspirations of people in their 30s and 40s, whose new ventures are often funded by their existing equity.
By understanding the changing face of the nation's mortgage market, advisers will unlock future earning potential. By working in partnership with clients to understand their needs, advisers will develop a lasting and profitable relationship, with real opportunities for further growth.
It is time that advisers went through their list of clients and worked out the cross-shifters from the contrasexuals.
A full copy of the report, The Shape of Dreams to Come – Living, Working and Changing Lifestyles in Britain, is available from Standard's website at www.standardlifebank. com.