Just 30% of brokers who answered our poll had the necessary qualifications while 6% were in the process of gaining them. Almost two-thirds (64%) were not qualified in equity release.
The poll followed an announcement from equity release specialist Bower Retirement Services that it plans to double its adviser force following an upturn in business volumes.
The Essex-based company said it is aiming to grow adviser numbers from 24 to about 50 over the next 12 months. It said customer enquiries for equity release advice had risen by 25% year on year.
It’s not the only retirement specialist to find that the equity release market is growing. Stephen Lowe (pictured), group external affairs and customer insight director at Just Retirement, said that while the equity release market has grown in double digits over the past two years, we’re not yet at the point where consumer demand outstrips supply.
“Our experience is that more advisers are starting to specialise in retirement practices. This is focused around retirement income, equity release and long-term care,” he said, “While only a third of advisers have qualifications our most popular webinars feature lifetime mortgages and equity release. There’s not a problem today as capacity can meet consumer demand. In five years’ time it could be a problem although there’s nothing to panic about due to the amount of investment in the market.”
Simon Chalk of the Age Partnership agrees that equity release has seen an upward growth trend over the past couple of years and predicts this will continue.
“There’s the potential for equity release to grow to be a £3bn to £5bn a year market – the question is when. Lots of factors point to growth: increased longevity, an aging population, rising house prices and people struggling to get by on retirement income. People in their 50s and 60s understand equity release more and are more willing to use their assets in their lifetime.
“We have enough qualified advisers but we need these advisers to engage with the market. Mortgage advisers and IFAs are well placed to do equity release business as they understand what drives clients in their decision making.”
Key Retirement Solutions’ latest Equity Release Market Monitor found that retired homeowners in the UK cashed in more than £641m in property wealth during the first half of 2014 with an average loan of almost £65,000.