Now – as with any other relatively young ‘trade’ body – we are focusing on increasing the membership, strengthening both our representative voice and resources, and encouraging potential new entrants into the equity release marketplace.
Our efforts are paying off and we now have a number of new members already approved and many more currently going through our application process including the largest intermediary firms, surveyors and legal service providers.
We are also lobbying hard to secure a single departmental home for equity release within Whitehall whilst developing strong and constructive support from ministers and officials for the industry.
As SHIP, we were committed to engaging with government and this has become even more of a priority for the Council. Indeed, we held our first policy makers event at the House of Commons sponsored by Eric Ollerenshaw MP shortly after our industry launch.
This went well and questions from the floor prompted lively debate as attendees took advantage of this opportunity to outline their thoughts on the subject.
We have also met with the Department of Health, Financial Services Authority, think tanks and other bodies which have a material impact on our area of the market.
Looking forward, there is a lot we still need to do before the end of the year. Our first general meeting is due to be held mid-December and prior to this, we will be looking to select members for our working groups and Standards Board.
Chris Pond is the chair of this board and we have already appointed two well respected names in the financial services industry – Liz Barclay and Jim Dredge – but we are looking for member support.
However, we do need to draw the line somewhere so will only be considering those who have become or applied to be members by 19th October 2012.
One of the things that I am really proud of is that we are looking to represent all aspects of the industry from the small one-man band right through to the provider with thousands of customers.
By working together, we will be in a position to build an industry which not only meets customers’ needs but also anticipates them and ensures that consumers receive the highest level of safeguards possible.
Andrea Rozario is director-general of the Equity Release Council