The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rejected a consumer complaint that the firm could not be whole of market as there were lenders who did not deal with brokers, going direct to customers only.
The complainant argued that saying it was whole of market when the firm did not have access to every available product could be misleading.
Age Partnership told the ASA it was a whole of market equity release broker, that had access to over 500 plans from across the equity release market from all lenders who made their plans available including 45 exclusive plans from lenders that were not available through any other broker.
It added that the term whole of market was widely used consumer language adopted by many mortgage and home finance brokers across financial services.
The firm said it had been subject to a number of reviews and audits from lenders and compliance consultants and had not received any objections to use of the term.
And it added that the product range allowed it to have access to many plans so it could find the most suitable solution for a client’s individual circumstances.
FCA Handbook definition
In rejecting the complaint, the ASA agreed with Age Partnership and its assessment of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handbook.
The handbook states: “A firm may be able to describe its product range as unlimited even if it offers its customers only a selection of the regulated mortgage contracts available from the relevant market, or uses panels.
“The firm would need to ensure that any panel, or selection of products, is sufficiently broad in its composition that it is representative of products from across the market, that it is reviewed regularly, and that its use does not materially disadvantage any customer.
“In such a case, a firm should ensure that its analysis of the market and of the available regulated mortgage contracts is kept adequately up to date.”
The ASA acknowledged some consumers might not be familiar with that technical meaning.
But it noted that consumers were likely to interpret the claim to mean that Age Partnership offered equity release products from a very wide range of lenders in that market, “which were representative of the whole market and would not disadvantage customers looking for a good and appropriate deal”.
And the regulator added that because it had access to over 500 plans from lenders, in addition to those who dealt with them exclusively this enabled it to offer a diverse selection of products from a range of lenders, and it was not misleading to call it whole of market.