Equity release trade body calls for feedback to serve customers better

27 March 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

The equity release trade body SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) is calling on advisers and other organisations involved in the equity release market to offer feedback on the customer experience so that it serves their interests as well as possible.

SHIP would like to hear from all advisers and financial services organisations which are involved in the equity release sector, and it will take their contributions into account during its policy consultation process, which will culminate in the Discussion Paper this summer.

Some of the things that SHIP is looking for analysis on from advisers and other interested parties include how to break down the major barriers between equity release and the consumer, and whether they consider consumers to have reasonable access to equity release.

The equity release trade body also wants feedback on what the role of the advisor entails in the equity release process, and the ways in which they think this can be changed in order to improve the customer experience.

"This feedback will be incredibly important to our consultation process," said Andrea Rozario, director general of SHIP.

"The knowledge and experience held by intermediaries, advisers and firms operating in this sector is essential in helping SHIP to identify issues experienced by both the customer and the adviser."

Ms Rozario added that SHIP is expecting an increase in the popularity of equity release.

According to an IFA Confidence Index from Hodge Lifetime equity release, conducted in February, 73 per cent of Independent Financial Advisors also expected interest in equity release to increase by at least five per cent over the coming months, as retirees look for ways of subsidising their falling income from savings and investments as interest rates take their toll and stockmarket volatility continues.

But before this surge can happen, Ms Rozario said, existing barriers must be identified "to allow clearer understanding and access for customers to an increasing array of flexible products."

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