You can find a local financial advisor on VouchedFor*, the review website for financial advisors, or Unbiased*, which connects users to advisors in their area, or for more information, check out our guides on How to find the right financial advisor for you.
They can help you understand the best option for you and recommend a suitable product from a member of the Equity Release Council (ERC).
This is the trade body for the equity release sector. The Council holds its members, which include equity release providers, advisors and solicitors, to high standards of professionalism to ensure that equity release products are as reliable for customers as possible, and that customers are fully informed of all the potential benefits, risks and downsides before they take out a plan.
One of the benefits of finding an advisor through the ERC is that it lays out specific rules and guidance for each of the services it offers. For advisors, some of the rules are:
Advisors need to be familiar with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and adhere to them at all times.Advisors need to be familiar with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and adhere to them at all times.Advisors need to make sure that the customer is aware of all of the risks, features and benefits of a particular product.Advisors need to consider the customer’s physical and mental health when suggesting a suitable plan, and seek an opinion from a medical expert if necessary.In the case of a joint application, advisors need to speak to both parties and make sure they both have a voice in the process, and that both understand all relevant information.
Chris Pond, Chair of the Standards Board at the Equity Release Council, said: “Allowing people to access some of the savings built up in the value of their homes could help fill the increasing gap in retirement incomes and long-term care costs, but people must have confidence that they will be treated fairly if they consider this option, which is why the maintenance of the highest standards of consumer protection is so essential.”
You can choose your own solicitor to carry out the legal work required to set your plan up if you want to. Your advisor will provide them with full details of the plan, including the rights and obligations of both you and your equity release provider under the contract, if you decide to proceed. Both you and your solicitor will be required to sign a certificate confirming that these rights and obligations have been explained to you and that you wish to enter into the plan.
If you have found a potential advisor, you should check to see if they are a member of the Equity Release Council, so that you can be confident they will stick to the council’s standards. If you are struggling to find one to begin with, their website allows you to search their member base by location and the kind of meeting you prefer. Make sure you check the costs involved, which the advisor should provide you with up-front. Some will charge a flat fee, whilst others may charge a percentage of the loan amount, typically 1.5-2%. Others may not charge for advice at all.