Previously the lender required mortgage brokers to hold the equity release qualification – CeRER – to arrange its retirement mortgage for clients.
However, it has updated this policy following the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) decision to redefine retirement interest-only mortgages as standard mortgages not lifetime products.
Vernon BS head of intermediary sales Tom Gurrie said following the FCA’s reclassification, it no longer needed to restrict it to advisers with an equity release qualification.
Low understanding of equity release
Research from SunLife also revealed that eight out of ten older homeowners planned to use property wealth to support their retirement.
However, only one in ten understood all the features and benefits of equity release.
The insurer surveyed 1050 of its new policyholders aged 55 and over in the first three months of the year and found that while awareness of equity release was high, there were notable gaps in knowledge.
More than half were not aware they could still move home after taking out an equity release plan and 85% did not know they could use equity release to pay off an existing mortgage or other loans.
Three in four homeowners aged 55 and over agreed the main advantage of equity release was being able to continue living in their own homes.
With 41% of respondents already providing financial support to their children or grandchildren, almost a third (29%) saw providing an inheritance now and sharing their family’s enjoyment as a key advantage of equity release.
SunLife CEO Dean Lamble said the firm had invested significantly in an education and awareness campaign to demystify equity release, including a special guide.
“As with all major financial decisions, it is important that all the benefits and implications are known and understood, so that customers can reach the right decision for their individual needs,” he said.
“Our research highlighted both misunderstandings and misinformation that could prevent people who would benefit from equity release from enjoying the retirement they’ve always wanted.”