Equity Release  

How advisers can help clients with later life mortgage needs

This article is part of
Guide to later life mortgages

He urges advisers to understand the differences between retirement interest-only (Rio) and a standard mortgage to give clients the full range of options.

“It also helps to have that awareness of equity release, which some borrowers may find appropriate and should seek specialist advice,” Mr Hollingworth notes.

Mr Thompson agrees education and awareness of what is available should be a priority when it comes to advising these types of clients.

“Over the past year, the options open to over-50s have diversified,” he observes. 

“Alongside the typical equity release products on the market, Rios provide interest-only mortgages, with no defined end term and no minimum equity requirements, and repayment mortgage vehicles – like Aldermore’s later life lending products – broaden the choice available to those in, or about to be in, retirement.” 

Emma Walker, chief marketing officer at Lifesearch, urges advisers not to avoid some of the more difficult questions that later life mortgage borrowers might need to answer.

“Advisers need to keep up-to-date with the products that are available and not shy away from having discussions around, what would happen in the event of death or illness? How would a customer maintain their mortgage?” she says. 

“Advisers should discuss all the options that are on offer.”

For Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing director at more2life, suggests advisers assessing the suitability of equity release for clients should be aware of the many reasons a homeowner may want to choose this option.

“From the interest-only mortgage customer who is approaching retirement age with no way of repaying their debt, to the client struggling with mobility issues who needs to adapt their home, to those wanting to go on a once in a lifetime family holiday with their children and grandchildren, quality advice is becoming ever more important in achieving the best outcomes for every later life customer,” he notes.

Keeping up with the market

Steve Paterson, director of Teeside Money, provides a checklist for advisers who are considering or are already advising clients on later life mortgages.

He says:

  • I believe face-to-face visits are essential to assess if a client is vulnerable. To also ensure they fully understand the product, a face-to-face meeting is always the best way to explain and demonstrate why the advice and product is suitable. 
  • In addition, family involvement should always be offered and encouraged. Compared to a traditional mortgage more time needs to be spent on the client journey and more time should be offered for the decision to proceed.
  • Advisers should hold the necessary qualifications and this can be checked out via the FCA register. It is always preferable to choose an adviser who ‘goes that extra mile’ by being a member of the Equity Release Council. They work closely with lenders and advisers and all members agree high standards and levels of service. 
  • A thorough fact-finding process is key to ensuring that you know your customer.
  • Advisers must have up-to-date knowledge on the market place, not just the qualification.

It may be that having to acquire such specific knowledge means it is easier for an advice firm simply to be able to refer these types of queries to a specialist.

Mr Wilson says: “Advisers who, although qualified, spend little time advising on these products need to be aware of the rapidly changing face of the market and may be better placed to set up a referral relationship with a specialist if they don’t have the resource they need to monitor and action these developments.”