The Equity Release Council and ERSA

A couple of months ago in May, the trade body for equity release providers, Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP), expanded and rebranded to create The Equity Release Council (the Council).

In doing so it broadened its membership to include lawyers, financial advisers, surveyors and other interested parties.

The aim was to create a united voice for the entire equity release industry, and the creation of the Council allows all aspects of equity release advice and product provision to be covered by a single body committed to the highest standards of consumer protection, awareness and education.

Whilst the industry has developed very high standards of consumer protection individually, the Council constructs a collective to build upon these foundations across all strands of the market.

The Equity Release Solicitors Alliance (ERSA) took the decision to sign up to the Council a while ago. However, the work of ERSA to promote the importance of specialist legal advice within equity release will continue as before, with each member committed to a Charter which guarantees best legal advice to consumers undertaking equity release transactions.

Taking independent legal advice is essential to ensure homeowners understand the decision they are making and are in the right frame of mind to make it. As some of the few solicitors withinEnglandandWalesthat have acquired the necessary knowledge and practical advice to deal with equity release in an impartial and authoritative manner, we are certain ERSA's membership will be mutually advantageous. 

ERSA believes the Council will be hugely beneficial to the work championed by ERSA as well as the wider equity release industry. It will raise our profile with the key political and regulatory figures, and ensure the role equity release can play is recognised at the top. As the Government moves towards encouraging people to take more responsibility for their financial well-being, the financial services industry is presented with a huge opportunity. TheUKis facing a pensions crisis and equity release can provide an answer to the tens of thousands of over-55s who are equity rich but cash poor.

The Council's Standards Board has been set up to ensure that unbiased, comprehensive, and high-calibre services are the norm, and with two ERSA members already part of the anti-fraud working party, we are confident this will be achieved and maintained.

ERSA shares the Council's aim to ensure consumers are aware of their houses' potential, not merely as a home, but as a useful and usable asset. At the core of both is a belief that greater understanding will lead to expansion and prosperity.

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