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ERC creates risk and compliance team to uphold consumer protections

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  • 05/01/2021
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ERC creates risk and compliance team to uphold consumer protections
The Equity Release Council (ERC) is creating a risk, policy and compliance team to help maintain industry standards as the sector comes under further scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

 

The council said the team, which includes two senior hires, will help it meet consumer needs and uphold consumer protections.

“The team will play a major role as an oversight function, while developing information and recommendations to the council’s standards board and committees,” the body said.

Kelly Melville-Kelly (pictured) has been appointed head of risk, policy and compliance.

The ERC said she brings more than 20 years of financial services expertise, working with both lenders and networks in later-life lending, helping to drive improvements and create best practice.

Melville-Kelly has previously held regulated positions at Alliance & Leicester and Legal & General.

And Sue Read is taking up the role of risk, policy and compliance manager.

She has 30 years’ experience as a business development manager, underwriter, operations manager, trainer, compliance officer and, adviser across a number of firms and networks.

 

FCA firing line

This team is the latest step from the body as equity release advice has come into the regulator’s firing line over the last year after a review of the biggest intermediary firms in the sector.

An FCA report in June found significant failings in advice practices within the equity release market and highlighted cases where it “was not clear that the advice was in the best interests of the consumer”.

It followed this up with a Dear CEO letter in October flagging further concerns about the sector.

Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI) chief executive Robert Sinclair also warned firms not to believe the regulator was only concerned with those advisers who only dabbled in the sector.

In response to the regulator’s points in the summer, the ERC said it would conduct a through review of its rules and shortly after published a checklist to help intermediaries during the advice process.

Last month it followed this up with a deeper report which warned advisers not to use standard paragraphs when producing suitability reports for customers.

It also promoted the importance of a strong fact find and urged advisers to ask probing questions and ensure recommendations were personalised.

 

Role as standards-setter

Equity Release Council CEO Jim Boyd said he was pleased to welcome Melville-Kelly and Read to the council.

“These latest hires complement our professional capabilities and will help to inject even greater pace into the council’s member and consumer-focused initiatives,” he said.

“The creation of a risk, policy and compliance team adds further weight to our role as a standards-setter in the later life sector, as we continue to evolve and revise our important standards.

“Kelly and Sue’s abundance of experience will prove pivotal in helping the council and the standards board ensure we continue to lead the way in setting the bar for best practice in later life lending.”

 

 

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