Equity release trade body SHIP has expanded its membership to include intermediaries, lawyers, surveyors and other interested parties and has also relaunched as The Equity Release Council.
Now, all aspects of equity release advice and product provision will be covered by one body.
As part of this launch and in addition to the SHIP Guarantee which The Council intends to adopt, a new industry code of conduct will be developed which will cover these new members.
It says this new safe-guard will be developed with the help of the expanded membership over the coming months and hopesThe Council logo will become a quality mark.
The main remit of the new organisation will be to protect consumers and increase education, awareness and understanding of how equity release works and the safeguards in place for consumers.
One barrier to market growth that research has identified in the past is that some consumers are unsure of how equity release works and how to access it. To combat this, The Council is launching a new website (www.equityreleasecouncil.com/) which will provide generic information on the products and potential uses of equity release and also a directory of members that consumers can approach for advice or guidance.
The Equity Release Council will be headed by the chair, Nigel Waterson, who will oversee the direction of the organisation and the director general Andrea Rozario who will take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Council.
Consumer safeguards are at the heart of the organisation’s development and the newly-formed Standards Board (headed by Chris Pond) will determine and maintain the principles the Council members must adhere to. This will be done via The Council’s Technical Committees, who will be responsible for engaging with members to help the industry work as one to further improvements in the customer journey, whilst facilitating a positive environment for all those who work in the industry.
Waterson said: “This is a really significant day for thousands of older people in the UK. After an extensive engagement process, equity release now has a trade body which represents the entire sector – The Equity Release Council.
“This is excellent news for the industry as by working together we can ensure that Government and potential customers understand the benefits that equity release can provide.”
Dean Mirfin, group director at Key Retirement Solutions, said: “It is right that at a time that there is so much importance placed on the role that intermediaries, solicitors, surveyors and lenders play in the equity release sector that the newly announced Equity Release Council forms to bring the main stakeholders in the sector together.
“The challenge ahead will be to ensure that the right individuals and firms keep focussed on the purpose of the new organisation and act for the good of the sector. Others have tried to bring organisations together in other sectors and have struggled to even get to this stage, and SHIP should be commended for its work so far in reaching this point.
“Key will be actively supporting the new body and look forward to playing our part in the future success of the organisation and the positive promotion of the equity release sector.”