Lighthouse Advisory Services has joined the Equity Release Council as its first financial services network organisation member.
The move takes the number of member firms to 164, up from 20 since the Council relaunched in summer 2012.
Lifetime mortgages represented the fastest growing mortgage segment in 2016, with the number of customers rising by 22% and the value of lending exceeding £2bn for the first time in a single year.
Donna Bathgate, chief operating officer of the Equity Release Council, said: “I am delighted to welcome Lighthouse as our first network member. Its decision is a clear indication of the growing appetite for equity release as more people recognise the value of using their housing wealth to support a comfortable retirement.
“Lighthouse’s reputation is highly respected within the advisory community and I look forward to working with them to help ensure more customers are able to access the advice they require.”
“Becoming a member of the Council was a natural progression for us with the group having arranged £885 million of mortgage funds for 5,000 customers in 2016,” said Paul Harris, managing director of Lighthouse Mortgage and Protection Solutions.
“Equity release is a natural extension of this activity and has become an increasingly important area for our business in recent years. We are advising more customers on equity release than ever before and want to ensure we provide all our customers with first class advice, underpinned by robust standards.
“We are delighted to be part of the Council and look forward to working alongside it to help more people realise the value of equity release for retirement where appropriate.”
Stuart Wilson, channel marketing director of More 2 Life, welcomed the move. He said: “It is great news that Lighthouse Group has joined the Equity Release Council. It’s a reflection of what we’re seeing here at More 2 Life – record numbers of advisers are registering with us and recommending equity release products to customers.
“The noise around later life lending within the industry is currently extremely positive and there is growing interest in equity release from brokers that are not currently offering advice on borrowing in retirement. More distribution is vital to the continued growth of our sector, and over the next 10 years we expect to see the retirement lending market double. This can only happen if more firms start advising on equity release.
“Even if advisers don’t feel comfortable advising on equity release they have the option of referring their clients to the many specialists who deal with these cases daily.”