The Equity Release Council has set up a committee to ensure its standards on legal advice in the sector continue to safeguard consumers.
According to the Council, the committee will add to its existing standards, as well as educate advisers, legal professionals and funders on the role of legal advice in the sector.
The committee comprises individuals from law firms that represent consumers and providers to provide oversight of the whole legal advice process.
Under the Council’s standards for its members, independent legal advice to consumers should include the risks and rewards of an equity release product that is recommended by an adviser.
David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “The legal forum will provide unparalleled insight into the role of legal advice in the equity release process, which will only serve to strengthen the Council’s gold-standard consumer protections and safeguards.
“The forum brings together representatives of major law firms who have industry-leading technical expertise. It will not only be crucial in helping evolve our standards but also in educating the wider industry about the role of legal advice in delivering good customer outcomes.”
Claire Barker, chair of the legal forum and managing director of Equilaw, added: “The forum will not only help to educate fellow legal professionals and other key stakeholders about the critical role of legal advice in the sector. It will also provide law firms with a chance to influence and shape the discussion around consumer protections in the market.
“The long-term trend towards accessing property wealth shows that later life lending is fast becoming a crucial pillar of retirement financial planning in the UK.
“Legal advice is a cornerstone of the customer journey and I welcome the opportunity to help to evolve industry standards and inform the market from a legal standpoint.”
The legal forum’s launch is the latest initiative from the Equity Release Council.
In December the industry body published a ‘best practice’ guide for advisers, followed by a syllabus launch in February to support advisers’ professional development in the equity release and later life lending market.
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