"The equity release market is growing, but advice standards across the board aren’t high enough, a factor that’s holding it back."
The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) has launched a new standard to help consumers find specialist equity release advice.
The Later Life Lending Advice Standard, which is offered through a computer-based training course, includes technical elements on equity release, as well as wider later life issues, such as care planning, availability of benefits and vulnerable client care.
Established in 2008, SOLLA is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help older people and their families access trusted later life financial advice.
Demand for equity release has almost doubled in the past 10 years, with more than 19,000 plans taken out in the first half of 2020 compared to just over 10,000 in the first half of 2010. Last year, over £3.4 billion of equity was released by older homeowners.
Founder and joint chair of SOLLA, Tish Hanifan, said: “It’s time for urgent change. Equity release can be a great option, but consumers need and deserve the right support to decide if it’s for them. The wrong advice can have a catastrophic impact on people’s lives.
“Well-rounded financial advice on equity release shouldn’t be too much for a consumer to ask for. An adviser needs to understand the key issues facing people in later life as well as vulnerable client care, and help people weigh up the benefits and considerations.
“For 15 years we’ve been signposting consumers to those financial advisers that truly understand the later life market. We’re delighted to now be able to do the same when it comes to equity release, a market that we expect to continue to grow.”
Simon Chalk, member of the SOLLA Advisory Board, added: “The equity release market is growing, but advice standards across the board aren’t high enough, a factor that’s holding it back. The Later Life Lending Advice Standard will boost the quality of advice universally, helping the industry to reach its potential. Great news for both consumers and advisers.
“The Standard is also a fantastic opportunity for financial advisers to stand out from the pack and show they are the absolute best in their field. I’d really urge any financial adviser who offers equity release advice to achieve the new standard.”