"It is no longer a niche market and the adviser community needs to reflect this by giving serious consideration to a new qualification."
In the wake of the FCA announcing a consultation into the merits of a standalone equity release qualification, the idea has found support amongst the adviser community.
61% of the 1,000 members questioned by the Society of Mortgage Professionals and the Personal Finance Society said they thought it should be a separate top-up to existing pension and investment qualifications.
Additionally, 77% think investment advisers that don't currently hold mortgage qualifications, particularly those active in giving later life advice, would seek to acquire a standalone equity release qualification.
Society of Mortgage Professionals operations manager, Vishal Pandya, cautioned that although a standalone qualification could increase the number of advisers than can recommend the product in the long run, this could paradoxically be a concern if the advisers doing so were not suitably knowledgeable about conventional mortgages - given that they may not be level 3 mortgage qualified.
He also pointed out that any re-fashioning of content or decoupling of equity release from the mortgages unit would need to be designed with sufficient mortgage content in the equity release component, in order to guarantee proper levels of competence and the fair treatment of customers.
Vishal continued: “This would be crucial due to the strong links between mortgages and equity release, particularly in respect of some of the newer mortgage products available to older borrowers.
“In the third quarter of last year alone, the value of equity release lending increased by 26 per cent year-on-year to £571.6m. It is no longer a niche market and the adviser community needs to reflect this by giving serious consideration to a new qualification.
“That being said, it seems unlikely that there would be an immediate surge in numbers in what is still deemed to be a specialist area with a relatively limited, albeit growing, market share.”