The equity release market will expand and develop to fulfill a 'growing customer need', according to a recent survey of equity release specialists.
The fifth annual SHIP member survey has identified a number of factors which it believes indicate that the equity release market has a bright future.
The factors identified by the equity release trade body SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans), as pointing to a growing role for equity release, include a wider range of products to fulfill homeowners' needs, a higher level of regulation which will serve to increase consumer trust in the sector, and a higher level of awareness in Government about the important role that equity release can play in overcoming the pension shortfall.
Furthermore, a third of respondents to the survey believe that SHIP's strong code of conduct is a strength which will help the equity release sector to grow.
However, whilst many of SHIP's members – which represent more than 90 per cent of the equity release industry – believe that equity release has a strong future, some are concerned about a negative perception of equity release which is still holding the industry back, even though the business has changed since this reputation was created.
These respondents are concerned that it is distorting some industry participants and consumers' view of equity release and preventing them from exploring the market; more than a third of respondents to the survey said that the reputation of equity release is the biggest challenge for providers to overcome.
Commenting on the survey's findings, Andrea Rozario, director general of SHIP, said: "The equity release industry has developed considerably over the years and has strong safeguards in place to protect consumers and intermediaries. It is a concern that our members still find that a negative perception of equity release is affecting the number of consumers who can benefit from these products."
The pension deficit and a growing retired population mean that it is "vital that consumers have the confidence to speak to an expert about equity release rather than struggle to survive," she said.
"We have campaigned long and hard for all political parties and relevant Government departments to seriously consider the role of equity release in easing the retirement funding crisis and are confident that this is the year when we will see concrete results."
© Fair Investment Company Ltd
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