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HSBC's equity release scheme questioned

24 March 2006
HSBC launches a new pilot equity release scheme today, marking the banking giant's tentative first steps into this rapidly developing field.

The HSBC Equity Advance Scheme will involve 50 HSBC branches, and will be open to customers aged 70 or over with homes worth more than £70,000.

The scheme is being run in partnership with In Retirement Services, whose chief executive Ged Hosty declared: "HSBC is the first major bank to enter the lifetime equity release market, and their decision will improve choice for customers by bringing equity release to the high street fro the first time."

However, HSBC's decision to enter the lifetime equity release market with a partner which is not an independent financial adviser (IFA) – and which will therefore not look at the whole range of products available in making recommendations to clients.

Indeed, the decision is particularly unusual insofar as HSBC owns a number of IFAs, such as NHFA.

Dean Mirfin, business development director at Key Retirement Solutions, stressed the competitive nature of the equity release industry, and the wide range of flexible products available that this has permitted to develop.

"HSBC is the first entrant to deviate from this trend, and it leads us to suspect the product is not competitive enough to be offered via intermediaries. We wait with interest the announcement of the HSBC proposition and interest rates", he warned.

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