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Equity release forum launched to improve customer choice

06 October 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

The equity release trade body SHIP is calling on stakeholders to become part of a new development forum for the sector, to bring greater clarity and choice to homeowners.

Following on from a discussion paper that it launched in the summer, the new forum will enable stakeholders to become "part of the evolution" of the equity release sector, SHIP said.

Some of the aspects of equity release which the trade body intends to open up to discussion include funding challenges for lenders, product innovation and change, clarification and understanding of customers needs and further safeguards.

Andrea Rozario, director general of SHIP, commented on the new forum: "Launching our discussion paper in July was a big step forward for the industry as it allowed us to lay out a variety of issues and concepts that we need to review and tackle in order to move forward.

"As part of this process, we are fully committed to garnering feedback from all potential interested parties - be they individual consumers, third-sector bodies or multi-national corporations."

SHIP has found that 40 per cent of UK household wealth is in housing equity, but only one per cent of UK pensioner households are using equity release to unlock cash from their homes and boost their retirement income.

Ms Rozario interprets this situation as a challenge to be embraced by the equity release industry, driving it to develop a wider range of products to suit the needs of different consumers, in "a safe, holistic and appropriate manner."

"Therefore, feedback from all interested parties is essential and we look forward to working with all members of our development forum and other stakeholders to reach this goal," she said.

Those who are interested in joining the forum can sign up at the SHIP website, and they will then receive information on the development process, SHIP's other initiatives, and an opportunity to contribute to working groups and research projects.

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