"Supporting advisers in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace has to be of paramount importance if the equity release sector is to continue its recent growth trajectory"
As summer has well and truly kicked into gear, the majority of restrictions have been lifted, and most over-50s have been fully vaccinated, many in the industry are beginning to prepare for a predicted surge as those in later life have had the opportunity to reflect on what they want their retirement to look like.
The lifetime mortgage market has seen a period of prolonged innovation during the last 18 months, and it can now boast 769 products available to consumers, a trebling compared to the number seen during Q1 of 2019. In addition, customers have benefitted from enhanced products, and in recent years there have been significant increases in the numbers of plans now accepting sheltered accommodation as part of lending criteria, or offering flexible early repayment-charge free optional repayments. The market is practically unrecognisable from where it was even three years ago, and continues to prove itself to be a hotbed of development that is providing consumers with unparalleled levels of freedom and product differentiation.
Supporting advisers in an increasingly competitive and diverse marketplace has to be of paramount importance if the equity release sector is to continue its recent growth trajectory towards becoming a mainstream retirement planning tool. With a broad array of available products and a growing client base with ever-wider needs and priorities, it’s perhaps more important than ever that they find later life solutions that best suit both their current circumstances and their future plans.
This only reinforces the importance of effective and knowledge-driven advice, and at Pure we’re committed to supporting advisers from the moment they consider entering the market. We’ve worked in partnership with the Equity Release Council to develop the updated Adviser Guide to Equity Release, published in June, to ensure that those entering the market have all the tools at their disposal to best serve their customers. The new edition builds on the success of the first, which garnered over 10,000 downloads since its 2016 release, and includes a wealth of new content to reflect the developing market. This includes added context on the relationship between equity and house prices, historical market context and information on its modern protections, extra material on supporting vulnerable customers, and additional guidance on meeting clients.
In the current climate, it’s crucial that consumers find retirement solutions that not only meet their current needs, but are also sufficiently flexible to continue to be effective and attractive options should their circumstances change in the future. While the market has continued to innovate, it’s equally important (if not more so) for it to continue supporting advisers through their journey, to be able to best serve their customers and ultimately help create a holistically positive experience for those exploring equity release as a retirement solution.
Whether it’s through providing guidance and best practices at a regulatory level or something as simple as feeding into the advice process by ensuring product updates (and their benefits to applicants) are clearly communicated, we all have a part to play in supporting the advice process and ensuring best outcomes for consumers both now and in the future.
The market’s growth in recent years has been built on gaining customer trust and looking after their interests in perpetuity, and with many having experienced the changeable nature of life first hand of late, reassessing their retirement plans both now and in the future, we all have a duty to make sure they ultimately end up with a solution that not only meets their needs now, but which offers the flexibility to evolve with their lifestyle.