New figures ‘set to show slight drop in equity release cases’

The next autumn report by the Equity Release Council will reveal that the number of customers served by the industry in the first half of 2019 was down on the same period in 2018.

That is according to the council’s chairman, David Burrowes, who gave a short preview of the report to an event in the City of London this week.

But he said that while the overall number of consumers served by the equity release industry for the first six months of this year was down on H1 2018, the figures were still consistently high by historical standards.

Burrowes also pointed out that the number of products available to prospective equity release customers had continued to increase during the period, as had the options available, coupled with a decrease in the pricing of lifetime mortgages.

“The first half of the year has continued to remain strong, but there has been a slight dip in the number of consumers serviced compared to 2018,” Burrowes explained. “However, the product choice has never been greater, and we now have 221 products available, whereas two years ago we had less than half that number. Last year certainly cemented our position within mainstream financial services – a third of all mortgages taken out by borrowers over the age of 50 were for lifetime mortgages.”

Burrowes also suggested that the later life advisory profession needed to help individuals look at their wealth in a more rounded way, citing the constant talk of “holistic financial advice” and asking whether the industry was in a position to deliver this effectively.

“We need to ensure consumers are fully informed about all their available options, the guarantees, and the signposting to this,” he continued. “The council is looking at standards, ensuring they are fit for purpose and that they have evolved. We will be shifting to a principles-based approach.”

Burrowes also highlighted a number of new initiatives from the council that would be coming to fruition over the next few months, including its consultation on equity release standards – the results of which will be published in November – plus its ongoing work into a new competency and qualification framework, which he said would be launched by the end of 2019.

The council’s autumn report on the equity release market is also set to be published over the coming weeks.

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