Equity Release  

Majority of savers switch retirement plans after advice

Majority of savers switch retirement plans after advice

Taking advice pays as the majority of over 55s who thought they knew what retirement solution they needed ended up changing their minds after a meeting with an adviser, research has shown.

According to data from OneFamily, published today (August 19), one in four over 55s who opt for financial advice have an idea of what financial solution they want to fund them through later life.

But the research, conducted by polling 215 advisers in June, showed 55 per cent of such clients had changed their mind after speaking to an adviser, with many brokers reporting that clients had fostered misconceptions about how retirement funding options work.

According to the advisers polled, the majority of clients misunderstood annuities, pensions and equity release.

When discussing equity release, advisers reported that seven in 10 (71 per cent) thought they could end up in negative equity and two thirds (66 per cent) thought they were unable to sell their home.

On top of this, 62 per cent thought they could not pay off a lifetime mortgage early or move to a new property while 44 per cent thought they were not allowed to switch mortgage provider — but all of the above are incorrect.

According to OneFamily, confusion about financial options available in later life was coupled with a lack of understanding of their own personal situation, as advisers also said that nearly half (47 per cent) of their clients didn’t know how much was in their pension pot. 

A 2017 Opinium poll put the average pension pot at £28,000 at retirement — just over £1,500 per year based on the average retirement of 18 years.

OneFamily stated this could mean “many over 55s” were in for a “nasty shock” if they had overestimated their pension amount.

Despite property likely to be one of their biggest financial assets, advisers said 40 per cent of their clients did not consider their home as a financial asset to use in retirement. 

Advisers also said retirees’ top worry was funding longer retirements, followed by mortgages continuing into retirement and finances becoming more stretched as younger generations need more help.

Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, managing director of Lifetime Mortgages at OneFamily, said: “This research shows there is a lot of misunderstanding in the later life lending market, and demonstrates the value of taking financial advice.

“As the lifetime mortgage market continues to grow, so will the variety of homeowners and their needs. As providers and advisers we play a vital role in helping over 55s get a complete picture of their retirement funding options.”

Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC, said the power of advice in later life was key as retirees who adopted a DIY approach or relied on providers risked paying too much tax, accessing funds too soon, not adjusting their investment strategy or not exploring all the options, such as equity release or annuity.

She added: “Those who rely on friends and family for advice risk making many wrong assumptions. As the research by OneFamily shows, few understand how equity release works or the difference between this and a retirement interest-only mortgage.