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Equity release adviser calls for temporary ban on close contact to clients

  • 23/03/2020
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Equity release adviser calls for temporary ban on close contact to clients
Equity release advice firm Later Living Now is calling on the sector to implement a set of emergency measures to keep elderly borrowers safe during the coronavirus outbreak.


On Sunday the government announced measures for 1.5 million vulnerable people, including those with receiving treatment for cancer and other underlying medical conditions to remain in isolation for 12 weeks.

The advice firm is urging the sector to suspend all face-to-face contact with customers and use phone calls and video conferencing instead.

The firm says if there are concerns over the vulnerability of the client, or remote communication is not possible, business should be deferred until it is safe to re-establish meetings in person.

Later Living Now also wants lenders to accept alternative valuation methods.

It says valuers have the tools to conduct desktop and drive-by valuations and to mitigate any risk the firm suggests for a reduction in maximum loan to values.

The Equity Release Council is midway through a seven-day consultation period with members over a temporary relaxation of its rule about the need for customers to only take independent legal advice face-to-face.

Later Living Now is calling on the council to speed this process up and ask member-solicitor firms to immediately switch to handling customers remotely, temporarily banning face-to-face consultations.


Underlying medical conditions

Simon Chalk (pictured), managing director of the firm, said: “The average age of a drawdown customer is 70, and a lump sum customer 68, with a great many customers being well into their 80s or early 90s – often taking equity release to pay for private care at home.

“The great majority of customers have some form of underlying medical condition; whether that be relatively controllable like hypertension or diabetes type 2, or more potentially debilitating like cancer treatment, or respiratory disorders. This is precisely the cohort placed at greatest risk of becoming infected with Covid-19.”

Chalk said the risk of a few cases turning out to have been inappropriate in future, is far outweighed by the risk of the sector failing in its duty of care to keep its customers healthy and safe.


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