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 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
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
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.