Advisers shun equity release on client acquisition concerns

An expected influx of financial advisers into the equity release market has failed to materialise due to concerns over finding clients, Chris Prior, manager of sales and distribution for Bridgewater Equity Release, has said.

Mr Prior told FTAdviser that the biggest challenge for specialist advisers is getting across “no-mans land”, explaining that advisers are not acquiring clients despite demand for the product as they are not building relationships with other advisers, accountants and solicitors.

Pre-RDR, market commentators predicted there would be an influx of advisers in commission paying parts of the industry, including mortgages - and therefore equity release - and protection. However, unlike protection, advisers must have specific qualifications to advise on equity release.

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Mr Prior said: “Equity release companies pay commission and we have seen a few more advisers in this market.

“We had six workshops in March, in conjunction with Just Retirement, and these were focused on equity release. Around 300 advisers attended.

“I am sure more are in this market because of the way things are changing, but it is not a massive amount as it is still a small market... and there is still that issue of finding the clients, which is becoming more and more difficult. It’s easier to find clients for pensions and investments.

“Advisers are in the market and clients do want this product but they don’t know where to go and crossing that land between them is difficult for advisers. Getting in touch with potential clients is the hardest bit.”

Mr Prior recommends that equity release specialist advisers get in touch with professionals, including other advisers, solicitors and accountants, as a primary method of acquiring clients.

He said: “They [professionals] hear about these problems but they don’t know how to deal with it, whereas the specialists are the ones that have the solutions and those specialists will meet the demand for those people.”