Nearly two-thirds of attendees in a seminar focusing on equity release at this year’s Financial Service Expo (FSE) London agreed that advisers should not have easier access to any product area.
The full question posed at the beginning of the session by Dean Mirfin, technical director at Key Retirement, was:
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today announced a consultation on whether to create a new qualification to allow diploma-qualified advisers easier access to an equity release qualification. Do you think allowing easier access to any product area is a good idea?
In response to this 60% of the audience voted ‘no’ and the remaining 40% ‘yes’. Commenting briefly on the result Mirfin suggested this was “an interesting conclusion and something that could perhaps be fed into the consultation”. He also pointed out that this presented a wider question not only about equity release but also about other areas of the market, in terms of whether, as an industry, certain areas of advice, or any areas of advice, should be made easier to get into.
Focusing on the trends to look out for in the next six months, Mirfin advised that equity release rates were likely to continue falling and that products would start to look more mainstream. He also outlined that, due to FCA rule changes, more serviceable lending options would emerge to further protect clients against default.
In terms of technological advances Mirfin pointed out that a number of lenders are rapidly moving forward with their online capabilities.
He said: “If you look at some of the lender’s point of sale technology you would actually be staggered. There are straight-through applications and other innovations which you, as advisers, would be very much used to in the mainstream mortgage world and in some cases providers are taking things even further. Some really interesting things are happening right now and there are even more in development.
“However, what still isn’t right is the methodology for research. We, Key Retirement, have been going for 18 years and still have to have our own research tool because there is nothing out there which does the job well enough. That’s the major challenge facing the industry from a technology viewpoint.”