Our recent census of advisers highlighted the need for ongoing education amongst consumers and it was therefore encouraging to see a range of trade bodies come together recently to produce a leaflet specifically aimed at consumers.
It covers all manner of topics including potential products, advice and how to move forward if they feel they have a need for later life mortgages and equity release.
For advisers too, this leaflet can be a very good introductory step and I would advise all practitioners to download it and send it out to their entire client database.
Education is not just a must for consumers but amongst advisers themselves there is also a constant need for learning, and it has been encouraging to see more organisations grasping the nettle in this regard.
Air recently held our annual conference – online this year, but back to being a physical event next year – and the level of engagement was clear to see, not just from those already in the sector, but those who recognise this is likely to be a growing need amongst their client base in the months and years ahead.
Of course, you can’t just turn yourself into an expert in all things later life overnight, but you can absolutely tap into the range of courses and support that is available.
Part of the education theme to come out of our census was also fully focused on the requirement advisers have in this area. You could say education begins at home, and we would encourage all advisers to either immerse themselves back into the sector or start that education journey.
Getting to the root of problems
A recent question we received at our conference brought home the need for constant engagement with the adviser audience and how problems can often be solved at source.
For example, I was recently asked if there was any hope that later life and equity release providers would extend the length of their offers, because the adviser concerned felt the time to get cases done was getting longer and the offers were not ‘holding’ through that timescale. The adviser suggested this was because of solicitor delays, which during the very busy time we’ve had recently might well be a problem.
However, taking a step back from this, where might the real issue be? What solicitor(s) is the adviser using? Specialists in the market or the high street/family operator chosen by their client? Now, it could be the former, but I would suggest if it were then they’re not going to be coming up against the type of delays which would warrant an extension of the offer.
Our own statistics show that advisers who use a specialist later life solicitor are likely to knock off at least 20 working days when it comes to case completion – add in weekends and your cases are completing up to a month quicker than if you don’t go down this route.
The answer is to go specialist in your solicitor choice and the need for an offer extension, or lengthening, isn’t quite the issue it appears to be.
Overall, therefore, it’s all about lifelong learning when it comes to the later life sector. Everyday truly is a school day and we can all gain so much by treating it this way.