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Solla’s advice set up will help the aged

The lack of advice available for people grappling with impending retirement is a regular feature in the news.

And this comes as people’s needs are getting more complicated. They are living longer, and will likely have more challenging advice issues in later life. The Society of Later Life Advisers believes that this can only be a good thing, for itself and its members.

The society is a not-for-profit company, offering accredition to advisers who want to assist people dealing with the complexities of old age.

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It was set up by Tish Hanifan, who is a barrister by background. She had been working with the Law Society, setting up Solicitors for the Elderly that offers legal advice to older people.

In doing this, Ms Hanifan realised that there was also a gap in the provision of financial advice for older people, so she went to the Financial Services Authority and the Finance Shared Service Centre – the forerunner of the Financial Skills Partnership – and got some funding together.

After teaming up with Jane Finnerty, a policy expert, in 2009, Ms Hanifan launched the later life accreditation in 2009, which was recognised by the Financial Services Consumer Panel.

Therefore, Solla officially came into being in 2009, and it gradually built up its members, who were gaining accreditation, or showing an intention to do so.

John Prout, an advisory board director at Solla, said: “Solla is a consumer body. It’s geared towards introducing later-life consumers to fully accredited later-life advisers.

“There’s a huge range of complexity in relation to the benefits systems – the Care Act that came to fruition – and there’s a lot of confusion around equity release. Solla members are the only people who are assured to have a holistic view of later-life issues.

“The people who have the full accreditation, have got a technical knowledge that is beyond the minimum advice standards. They also have demonstrated an understanding of equity release. They have a long-term care qualification and a deep understanding of the powers of attorney.”

An indication of the organisation’s success, Mr Prout said, was that at HSBC, any client over the age of 75 who needs advice in relation to later-life issues, will only be visited by a fully accredited member of Solla.

So what is involved in becoming an accredited later-life adviser, to obtain the LLAA status (Later Life Accredited Adviser)?

First, the adviser must sign up to be an associate member, which shows an intention to become an accredited adviser. It is assumed that the adviser will already have a level four qualification. The next step in the process is to obtain a qualification in long term care CF8 or CeLTCI.

They will then need to demonstrate good knowledge of equity release, by obtaining qualifications such as ER1, or a combination of CF7 with HR1, or any other awarding body’s equivalent such as CeRER.