Mark Lambert (pictured) was winner of the best financial adviser category at the 2018 Equity Release Award for the fourth year in a row.
He said that Viva Retirement’s goal is to make sure that each adviser will be fully conversant in both equity release plans, as well as retirement interest-only (RIO) and older people mortgages.
Russell Coneron has been hired as adviser recently, joining from APH Financial Management Services.
Another adviser, whose details cannot be disclosed yet, will be starting in January as part of Viva Retirement’s growth plans, Lambert said.
He revealed that his priority on a day-to-day basis is to guarantee that advisers offer the best advice possible.
“However, we tell a lot of people not to do [equity release] if it is not appropriate, because it’s about giving the right advice, not getting more sales,” Lambert said.
Expanding network of introducers
Viva Retirement’s director said that the company is not only focused on its own business. Its aim is to raise awareness of the equity release industry, working alongside other companies and taking time to present seminars.
“We are a member of Stonebridge, but we are keen to expand our network of introducers, speaking with other independent brokers, to promote the benefits of the equity release and to show how it has changed over the years.
“The more mortgage brokers we can educate into the benefits of the equity release, the more we will be able to help entering into the equity release market.
“This is one of the biggest concerns at present, as there are not enough advisers capable of providing advice on equity release plans,” he said.
Lambert revealed that new plans and product developments emerging within the industry generated a solid interest in being educated on equity release.
However, there is still a bit of stigma around this sector, which is the main weakness the market is experiencing at the moment, he said.
Involving families to avoid future problems
Lambert explained that whether brokers belong to a network, they may have two options to overcome the compliance difficulties of retirement interest-only (RIO).
“Brokers can become authorised or they can choose to refer to a specialist if they are not authorised,” he said.
Viva Retirement’s director highlighted the importance of involving families in the early stages of the process.
“Although it does not cut complaints, it helps to avoid future problems where the family members do not know about the equity release until the relative passes away.
“It is up to the client, however it is important to fully understand what the relative is doing and more importantly why he or she is doing it,” Lambert said.
Clients do not require technology innovation
Lambert recognised the positive impact of technology innovations for advisers but said that there is no advantage for equity release clients.
“As an adviser, I think that online portals are fantastic for brokers because they allow to get instant answers and faster applications.
“From a client point of view, I do not think it is required as we deal with the older generation. However, I am sure that product development will carry on in the future,” he said.
Lambert pointed out that brokers who are not educated into the equity release plans are missing an important business opportunity.
“This is a fast sector which is expanding rapidly and constantly. This is the main reason why mainstream brokers need to be in this market, being able to offer clients the right advice, based on different plans and needs,” he concluded.