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Solla sees membership surge since April care reform

Solla sees membership surge since April care reform

The number of advisers accredited by the Society of Later Life Advisers looks set to more than double following the introduction of the Care Act’s first phase.

Since April, local authorities have had new legal duties relating to their provision of long-term care.

This includes pointing people in the direction of financial advice if it is needed as well as changing how local authorities determine who is eligible for support.

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Tish Hanifan, the founder of Solla, said that in the lead-up to April and the following three months, more than 600 people have applied for the body’s accreditation.

She said: “At the moment we have got about 400 people who are accredited and we have got more than 600 who have applied towards accreditation.

“They have been applying since before April but not much before. We have had to take on more staff to manage the increase.

“Financial advisers are recognising this is an area of advice it is important to offer. The Care Act only recognises existing changes in demographics.”

One of the most well-known aspects of the Care Act – which became law in 2014 – is the cap on care costs which comes into effect from April 2016.

This will mean the maximum those above state pension age have to pay towards care during their lifetime will be £72,000 – though this excludes the residential costs of care.

Ms Hanifan said: “Our members are finding a huge amount of increased activity because local authorities are required to provide access to information and advice and to make sure the advisers have an appropriate qualification.

“They can decide what an appropriate qualification is, but a lot of them are using Solla.”

Paul Hudson, chief executive of Gloucestershire-based Cirencester Friendly, said some of the problems with funding long-term care were the result of tight regulation around product innovation.

He said: “I do not think that the age of clients is really of issue in relation to regulation. Regulation needs to be adequate enough to protect consumers but not so restrictive as to dissuade people from purchasing financial products.

“The problem is that many consumers are not acquainted with financial services matters, and regulations calling for lots of documents and disclosures leads to confusion. The result is many people do not buy appropriate products, which is a shame.

“I wouldn’t lay all the blame at the feet of the regulator in terms of product innovation, but I do think regulation needs to recognise the consumer in the process.”

Adviser view

Desmond O’Driscoll, a director of London-based Lighthouse Financial Initiatives, said: “Being accredited with Solla is a good idea because it makes you brush up on later-life issues, and it makes business sense too because the demographics are going in that direction so it will be a huge growth area.”