Of course, I’m not saying that an adviser in the mainstream mortgage arena must be an expert on equity release. Rather, it would be beneficial to everyone if we all had a working knowledge of each other’s craft thereby recognising when a customer could potentially benefit from equity release advice and referring to trusted specialists.
Stuart Wilson at More2Life recently bemoaned the fact that some advisers within the mainstream market are not as knowledgeable as they may be of the state of modern equity release, and I would tend to agree that this is an issue.
When advisers have not been able to keep up with the speedy progress and evolution of the lifetime mortgage, it is essential they refer their customer to a specialist adviser within our field, but this isn’t happening often enough.
Some customers who may have benefitted hugely from accessing their property wealth via equity release are not getting in front of the adviser they need to.
However, rather than seeing this as a problem, we could look at it as a potential opportunity.
To specialise or not to specialise?
Mainstream mortgage advisers will be seeing an increase in interest in our market – you only have to look at the 61% rise in activity in Q1 this year to be confident of this – so why don’t they cut out the middleman and specialise as a lifetime mortgage adviser?
Equity release is the fastest growing sector of the broader mortgage market, and despite it being small relatively speaking, there is still so much room for growth. Advisers can easily make an ample living completing equity release cases but there is far more to advising in this arena.
Of course, there are differences with traditional mortgages but our customer base is surely one of the fastest growing around. The whole of society is greying and the retired cohort is bursting at the seams, with very many needing some sort of retirement finance and advice.
Ultimately, I believe advisers in the mainstream market will start to see a trend and realise the clients they refer could easily remain theirs, but this is not a light undertaking.
Aside from the obvious requirements for the necessary qualifications there is a need for a deep understanding of clients immediate and longer term needs, along with essential attention to detail, comprehensive understanding and compliant processes.
Naturally more qualifications and adding more strings to your bow is never going to be negative, and with equity release only going up I predict more will soon look to this industry.
However, this must be a considered move and include a willingness to commit to a continuous level of research that doesn’t just cover product research but also an understanding of state benefits and potential long term care planning, not to mention family involvement.
All of which needs to be coupled with patience, soft skills and the ability to recognise other opinions that may be more suitable.
This industry is very rewarding and growing but should never be under estimated. As the market grows so will interest, which is all good. However comprehensive support, training and ongoing development from a specialist company can give piece of mind and a level of comfort in what can be a complicated arena.