"The aim of the review was to ensure that the standards reflect emerging trends in regulation and are future proofed for a world where retirements needs are constantly changing."
The Equity Release Council has updated its industry standards in what it says is the largest evolution since the organisation was established in 2012.
The update sets the benchmark for best practice by going above and beyond statutory regulation and providing a higher level of consumer protection than any other property-based loan.
As well as refreshing and simplifying many rules, the latest update reinforces the existing focus on providing appropriate support to customers who may be exposed to physical, mental and financial vulnerability.
Customers of Council member firms will receive three levels of protection, encompassing a structured financial advice process, clear product safeguards, and independent face-to-face legal advice.
In the past year, membership of the Council has increased to more than 300 firms and 1,000 individuals who commit to this benchmark.
The update will be effective from 1st January 2020.
Chris Pond, chair of the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, commented: “The standards are fundamental to the Council’s work to lead a customer-focused market, and today’s launch is an important milestone in nearly thirty years of protecting consumers’ interests. The aim of the review was to ensure that the standards reflect emerging trends in regulation and are future proofed for a world where retirements needs are constantly changing.
“The renewed focus on principles and outcomes alongside existing rules and guidance will help to ensure that equity release products and services continue to meet customer needs. The standards which Council members commit to, above and beyond their regulatory duties, provide the ultimate reassurance to consumers that equity release products are safe and reliable.”