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Pension Wise must include property wealth as laterlife advice expands, says BSA

  • 04/05/2017
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Pension Wise must include property wealth as laterlife advice expands, says BSA
The Building Societies Association (BSA) has called on the government’s Pension Wise guidance service to also include property wealth within its remit as the need for holistic laterlife financial planning becomes more apparent.

The body also suggested that there would be an explosion of interest in unlocking property wealth but that this may not transfer solely into the equity release sector.

The call came as part of a wider debate on the importance of holistic financial advice, including property, as people neared retirement.

Speaking at the BSA conference, BSA CEO Robin Fieth (pictured) said: “One of the things we have identified over the last two or three years with regard to lending to older people generally, is the need for far more holistic financial advice and that has its own regulatory challenges as well as challenges of individual adviser expertise.

“But so much advice around how you’re managing retirement finances excludes property. With a pension pot of £30,000, your home maybe your principle asset in retirement and if the advice you can get can’t cover both your pension pot and your home, how is an ordinary citizen going to cope with that?”


Retirement Wise

This was echoed by BSA head of mortgage policy Paul Broadhead, who said the first step in promoting holistic financial advice had to involve Pension Wise.

“Pension Wise is a great guidance service but I almost think that has to evolve into Retirement Wise,” he said.

“Where there is at least some signposting to say: ‘you might have a £30,000 pension pot, you might be sitting on £150,000 of equity, these are the type of questions you should be asking advisers because there are perhaps tax or benefit implications’

“So, they get two sides of the argument and can make an informed decision,” he added.


Access housing wealth

Broadhead also noted that the whole laterlife lending sector could witness significant growth if demographic and economic projections proved correct.

“I think the explosion, if there is going to be an explosion, is going to be the need for people to access housing wealth.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean it ought to be an explosion solely in the equity release market, that will remain a part but not the only solution. Where we’ve struggled so far is that the mainstream mortgage market is over here, and the equity release market is over there.

“There’s a need to bring those two sectors together so people get the full portfolio of products, the right advice, for their own particular circumstances,” he added.

The BSA’s comments echo that of the Equity Release Council which, earlier this week, launched a white paper which proposed changes to the equity release market, including the joining up of government public advice bodies.

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