The Equity Release Council is the official industry body, committed to making sure we put your needs first. We’re proud to be a member and live by the high standards that they set for products and services. But what does this mean to you?
Treated fairly and honestly
If you want to take out some of the cash tied up in your home, then you need to feel you are being treated fairly and honestly at every step. The Equity Release Council makes sure that this happens by setting advice standards and continually monitoring the evolution of consumer-focused products.
As an adviser member we are clear, transparent and demonstrate the pros and the cons of equity release so that you can make an informed decision, while maintaining safeguards.
Challenging negative opinions
In the past, there have been some horror stories about equity release. Before the industry was regulated there were cases of retired people seeing the interest on the loan completely consume the value of their home, or even being asked to move out.
Upon their death, an unscrupulous lender might get the property sold quickly, below market value, just to make sure their costs were covered. And before the ‘no negative equity guarantee’ families were asked for more money to cover a shortfall in interest due after the sale.
We are very pleased to say that this is no longer the case, but it seems that some naysayers will continue their scepticism, often due to a misunderstanding of how equity release really works. So the Equity Release Council (amongst others in the industry) still have a lot of work to do to ensure misconceptions are addressed.
Product standards and safeguards
There’s more customer protection, more lenders and, most of all, far more product choice for our customers than ever before. We will compare the whole market for you, to match you to the perfect plan. We will only recommend an equity release plan to you if it meets the Equity Release Council standards. These are:
- The right to remain – if the property remains your main residence and you keep to the terms of your contract, you have the right to continue to live in your home until you pass away or need to move into permanent care.
- The right to move – you can move to another home, as long as the new property meets the terms and conditions of the equity release provider and provides adequate security for the loan. This is often called porting your loan.
- A no negative equity guarantee – house prices are constantly fluctuating and can go down as well as up. A ‘no negative equity guarantee’ ensures that when the house is sold if the amount cannot pay off the loan plus interest due, then neither you nor your estate will be liable to pay the difference.
- Fixed interest rates – on a lifetime mortgage (where you take out a loan secured on your property) the interest rate must be fixed. Or, if you do get a variable rate deal, then there must be a cap (upper limit) above which the rate can never rise, again fixed for the life of the loan.
High advice standards
Property wealth is increasingly part of later life financial planning. Indeed, the potential for unlocking property wealth should be on every homeowner’s retirement checklist to consider alongside appropriate advice to weigh up all the options and implications. To ensure the best possible outcomes for all consumers the Equity Release Council helps firms to develop, educate and upskill advisers to deliver a consistently high standard of advice.
To support financial advisers in their professional development they offer an educational syllabus with three pathways based on advisers’ levels of experience. It is designed to update their knowledge and skills to advise effectively on equity release. It focusses on understanding the industry, market, clients, soft skills, products, and processes.
Doing the right thing for you
The Equity Release Council offers confidence and reassurance for anyone considering equity release by ensuring all members’ commitment to quality and professionalism in the products and services they offer.
Being a member of the Equity Release Council means we live by the high standards they set. By following their guidance and well as our own values you can be confident that we’re doing the right thing by you.
We also comply with the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) rules governing the sale of equity release products. All of our advisers are fully-qualified and have industry experience.