BLOG: Air’s putting affordability first to secure better customer outcomes

In September, the market regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), published their findings following an in-depth review of equity release advice firms in line with the introduction of Consumer Duty.

In case you missed it, the FCA stated they were left disappointed to find several firms weren’t providing a personalised service, challenging customer assumptions and/or couldn’t provide evidence to support the suitability of their equity release advice.

The regulator determined those it had reviewed had poorly considered borrowers’ income and expenditure, minimised discussions around alternatives, incentivised sales - potentially at the expense of quality advice and good customer outcomes - and steered outcomes in favour of lifetime mortgage products.

Encouraging best practice

It’s never positive to see failings highlighted within our industry. However, the FCA did note that all firms included in the review have already made changes to sales and advice processes to address the concerns raised.

Nevertheless, at Air, we believe, as a sector, we can do more. And we need to consider how we encourage best practice and avoid the behaviours called out by the review if they’re evident in a firm’s approach.

That’s why, in a changing market, it's crucial to have thought leaders and market innovators on your side to provide safe tracks. And our focus on technology, knowledge and people can help you unlock confident and rewarding growth, even in the most challenging of times.

Air’s brand-new Navigator Tool

Advice firms failing to provide a personalised service – including not considering borrowers’ income and expenditure and minimising discussions around alternatives – was a main concern highlighted by the FCA in their recent review.

At Air, we believe advisers who operate in the later life lending market know their responsibility in helping older homeowners make the right choices. But we wanted to create a tool that helps you actively personalise, and document, this part of the advice journey. And our brand-new Later Life Lending Navigator Tool does just that.

Designed for advisers by advisers, and reviewed by stakeholders across the sector, including the FCA, our Navigator Tool helps you narrow down, and record, the suitability of your client’s different later life lending options. This means you can be confident you’re recommending the best outcome for their circumstances; whether that’s a residential mortgage, RIO, lifetime mortgage or an alternative borrowing or non-borrowing option.

How the tool works

Split into two parts, the Later Life Lending Navigator Tool initially filters your client’s later life finance options depending on their ability, and desire, to service the proposed debt, along with their answers to a selection of prioritisation questions.

Then, in part two, you’re able to drill further into specific cost of borrowing calculations for each available property-based borrowing option, helping you determine, and recommend, the most appropriate product for your individual client’s needs after considering the alternatives available.

We have the tools, now let’s use them

We’ve seen the equity release sector make significant changes in response to the FCA’s review and the introduction of Consumer Duty; embracing the goal to provide good customer outcomes. But there’s still more we can do.

As a sector, we need to put affordability at the heart of the process and ensure a wider range of alternative borrowing options are fully considered. By establishing what a customer can commit to in terms of making repayments, you can then determine the products they’re eligible for confidently and help mitigate the cost of borrowing.

By following this advice philosophy, and using Air’s new Later Life Lending Navigator Tool, we can ensure our advice standards remain high and customers secure better customer outcomes, every time.

Speak to a member of our team for more information on how we could support you and/or your firm 0800 294 5097 or

To access the Later Life Lending Navigator, please click here.

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