Andrea Rozario: Qualified equity release advisers in high demand

Equity release is on track for another record-breaking year, writes Andrea Rozario in her latest column for Retirement Planner. Here she explains why properly qualified advisers are in high demand and there is more room at the table

It’s hard to argue that equity release hasn’t been one of the real success stories of the last few years.

We’re not only breaking lending records year after year, but we’re also stealing headlines.

This small niche of the mortgage market is certainly punching above its weight, and I for one think that this success story is set to continue for the foreseeable future. However, there are still problems.

One being, that there still aren’t enough advisers regularly practising equity release, and even fewer specialising exclusively in our market. But as we continue to succeed and continually knock on the door of the mainstream, our adviser population will climb upwards. But there’s more reasons advisers should look to equity release.

Opportunity

According to research revealed by Pure Retirement earlier this year, only 500 to 1,000 mortgage advisers regularly advise on equity release products every month. This sounds slim to begin with, but compare this with the standard mortgage market, where more than 5,000 intermediary firms employ upwards of 45,000 approved people and appointed representatives, and you get a clearer picture. More advisers need to take equity release seriously.

But why should more advisers look to specialise in equity release? One obvious reason is the growth we have experienced in recent years.

Our entire market is virtually doubling in value every couple of years, so the opportunity for doing solid business is obviously here. What’s more, with only an estimated 1,000 advisers regularly focusing on equity release, there is clearly less competition than within the traditional market.

So, ultimately, there’s an increasing number of business opportunities to be had and less people to share it with – a classic win-win.

Drawdown innovation

Another reason to consider into the equity release market is the exciting development we have seen in recent times. For example, the entire industry has been turned upside down over the last decade or so by the growth of drawdown products, and new and exciting lifetime mortgages are being launched all the time.

Equity release may still be relatively small, but its size is ultimately what allows for it to be flexible enough to evolve rapidly. So if you want a sector that will constantly keep you on your toes and will always be moving forward, equity release could be for you.

Moreover, despite our relatively small size and flexibility, equity release is the domain of some serious lenders and more heavyweight hitters are joining every year. Most recently, Nationwide has thrown their hat into the ring, and lenders like Legal & General have really taken the market by storm becoming a serious player in no time at all.

Essentially, serious lenders are now seeing equity release as less of a risk and more of a sure fire way to diversify their offerings and give their customers what they want. And as we continue to grow, I am certain more major lenders will open up their own equity release propositions, and we will need an increase in advisers ready to do business.

Finally, beyond the fact that our market is growing in a pure business sense, becoming an equity release adviser can also be ideal for those who possess certain skills and attributes. The so-called ‘soft skills’ are intensified in their effectiveness within equity release, as our advisers have a much more hands-on, personal connection with their clients.

So for those advisers who can deliver expert, tailored advice to often confused and sometimes vulnerable clients, equity release can foster and reward them in spades.

Overall, everyone within the equity release industry can look back on 2018 with pride.

Another annual lending record should be set, exciting new products have been launched, new lenders are getting stuck in and the industry as a whole is in an extremely healthy position.

But I want more people to experience the joys of this market! There’s unlimited room for our adviser population to grow, and I would say to anyone thinking about dipping their toes into equity release that there is a healthy, growing and exciting market waiting to welcome you.

Andrea Rozario is chief corporate officer at Bower Retirement