By becoming a member, Contact State supports the standards, guidance and rules that the ERC issues, which it says are “fundamental to the equity release market and the distribution of products to consumers”.
Contact State will work closely with the council and its members on a variety of issues such as how to best use external marketing companies in a compliant manner and give oversight of the consumer journey to improve lead generation transparency within the later life lending market.
Thomas Brett, head of mortgages and lending at Contact State, said: “The equity release market has been transformed with the development of the online journey, and while this digital shift – particularly at the start of the customer journey, via online quotes and calculators – has undoubtedly provided consumers with greater choice, it has also increased complexity and the potential for consumer detriment.
“Ultimately, we would like to see data certification become a pillar of the market; if we can implement higher standards we can ensure customers, brokers and the market in general is protected from fraudulent marketing practices and regulatory restrictions, enabling ‘good’ lead gen to continue to play a key role in the market.”
Jim Boyd, chief executive officer of the Equity Release Council, added: “Contact State joining the council is welcome news as we continue to grow our membership and ensure more firms abide by industry best practice in their interactions with consumers.
“The modern equity release market has seen significant growth in product innovation, choice, and flexibility in addition to the strong foundation of council-led consumer protections in place since 1991.”
He added: “Advisers using the services of an introducer or lead generator must be confident their business is undertaken in a professional, safe, and secure manner with customer data handled in the proper way.
“Today’s digital world helps put more information at customers’ fingertips, and it is vitally important that trust and transparency are built into the process, so consumer interests are protected at all times.”
Boyd said: “With the continued support and active engagement of our members, we are focused on ensuring homeowners are fully informed of their options and can make appropriate decisions to pursue their long-term financial goals.”