‘Putting the 1980s to bed’; Andrea Rozario
Last month, after 20 years of campaigning on behalf of equity release providers, Ship relaunched as the Equity Release Council.
The Equity Release Council will be headed by Nigel Waterson as chair, who will oversee the direction of the organisation, and Andrea Rozario, director general, who will take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the council.
Ms Rozario is confident the trade body will broaden its membership to include advisers, lawyers, surveyors and other interested parties following the relaunch.
Unsurprisingly, she is passionate about equity release, believing it to be the “only financial product that can have a positive impact on a person’s life immediately without people realising that”.
“I get quite frustrated over the fact that people are reluctant to realise equity as they are either ill-informed or they have pre-conceived ideas or they were given the wrong information and that led to them being in a situation whereby they were in a property that is worth £200,000 but they were living a poor level of lifestyle because they didn’t have access to any actual cash.
“That is really frustrating because that happens on such a large scale and it may be that they don’t even have any family to leave a property too, or they do have family but they are not in a position to help or they may not be bothered about having an inheritance.
“To me it just seems futile to be living in your largest asset but not being able to make full use of it when it is perfectly possible to do that and in a safe way because of the new types of plans that are available for some time now and because of the safeguards and regulations.”
Back to the 1980s
When equity release schemes were first introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, horror stories circulated and many people have been put off as a result.
When the schemes first came into being there was no regulation and stories of older people facing impossible struggles to pay off spiralling debts hit the headlines on a regular basis.
The truth is the world is a completely different place now and regulation is much more stringent, Ms Rozario is quick to point out.
“We should be putting what happened in the 1980s to bed. At the end of the day, for many years there have been very good products with lots of safeguards and there are huge satisfaction levels with equity release.
“It is probably the most regulated and safest part of financial services industry.”
She points out that not only does equity release need to adhere to “strict” guidelines from the FSA but also, members of the Equity Release Council have to stick to a code of conduct.
“We insist that all of our members abide by a code of conduct and the launch of the Equity Release Council, which means we will be extending those safeguards all across the industry.