Between 2017/2018 and 2019/2020, the number of introducers jumped by half while numbers flatlined as the pandemic hit, according to the referral service arm of Key Group.
Mortgage brokers were the main driving force behind the introducer market, the firm said, as they sought to add equity release as an option for clients.
At the same time, more equity release advisers are referring cases, potentially due to the impact of the pandemic on customer interest or pandemic staffing challenges, Key said.
The average amount released by referral customers in the first nine months of the year was £85,099 – around £2,000 higher than the market as a whole – and nearly £10,000 higher than 2019.
The biggest increases came from clients of mortgage brokers who released an average of 44 per cent more than in 2019 at £111,780.
Jason Ruse, business development director at Key Partnerships, said: “While it is almost impossible to talk about the later life lending market in 2020 without referencing the pandemic, it is good to see that the referral market has been remarkably robust.
“We have only seen a one per cent drop in the number of new introducers signing up on a monthly basis as they seek to provide safe access to this specialist market for interested customers.
“Mortgage brokers remain the most common referral partner as they look to add equity release to the range of later life lending options they can provide. IFAs and wealth managers also commonly refer customers although we have seen a drop off in the number of new IFAs who are looking at this market as they focus on their core areas during this challenging time.
“Finally, it is interesting to note that half of introducers felt that they or the networks they work for viewed equity release as a specialist product requiring specialist advice from a highly qualified expert.
“Often driven by customer demand, they wanted to support their customers with their needs in such a way that they felt comfortable that they were receiving the support they needed. This bodes well for the industry as it continues to develop and we welcome more referral partners into the market.”