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Equity release advisers must pre-empt and debunk scare-mongering tactics – Barker

by: Claire Barker, managing director, Equilaw
  • 16/11/2018
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Equity release advisers must pre-empt and debunk scare-mongering tactics – Barker
Figures published by the Equity Release Council (ERC) for the third quarter of this year have revealed that the value of ER lending rose to an unprecedented £1.02bn between July and September.


With many within the industry predicting that lending levels could reach, or even breach, £4bn in 2018 there is a growing sense of euphoria throughout the sector.

Yet, perhaps inevitably, dissenting voices remain.

In October, for example, the LBC radio presenter Andrew Castle raised concerns as to the ‘complexity’ of equity release products, asserting that they were ‘slickly sold and packaged’ and arguing that many customers did not ‘really understand the full implications’ of taking out the loans – a bold claim.

Now, of course, Mr Castle is no stranger when it comes to criticising these products, having previously described compound interest rates as ‘not human’ and condemning the industry for taking advantage of ‘elderly and vulnerable people’.


Distorted claim

Yet as a celebrity there is little doubt that his opinions carry a degree of weight or influence with some consumers that requires the sternest form of rebuttal.

For example, any life-changing financial decision will always involve a measure of complexity and risk – this is entirely unavoidable.

But suggesting the 30,000 or so new customers who have taken out equity loans over the first nine months of this year did so without the least understanding of the consequences of their actions, or that these products are any more complex or dangerous than perhaps a conventional mortgage is a startlingly distorted, and not to mention insulting, claim.

This is especially so given that each and every one of these customers would have been required to take professional advice and independent legal guidance before they were allowed to proceed and that ERC members are expected to adhere to strict codes of conduct.


Pre-empt and debunk

Nevertheless, outbursts such as Mr Castle’s place a growing onus on brokers to continue educating people about equity release and to explain underlying concepts in a manner which is entirely understandable.

Because with ER steadily growing in stature and popularity, it’s as well to pre-empt or to debunk high profile scare-mongering tactics such as these and do everything we can to maintain our reputation as the premier post-retirement finance option – a product which has changed thousands of peoples’ lives for the better.


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