How to find an equity release adviser you can trust
15 May 2019 • Equity release insights
Equity release scheme decisions
Unlocking property wealth is not something to be done on a whim; while it can help ease your retirement finances or even realise your later life dreams, there are both pros and cons, and you need to be clear about both. It’s also not the right solution for all situations. And it may have implications for those you love the most.
You therefore need to find an advisor who will take time to understand your personal circumstances and talk you and your close friends and/or family objectively through both the advantages and drawbacks. You also need to find someone who is motivated to find what they believe to be the best solution for you, not someone who is spurned on by commission.
There are also a growing number of products on the market, with an increasing choice of features, so it’s important to find an equity release scheme adviser who really knows the market so they can find the product that most closely aligns with your needs.
Questions to ask to find the right adviser
There will always be people who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk, but asking the right questions will help you find an over 55s equity release adviser who has the right product knowledge and has your best interests at heart:
- Are you a member of the Equity Release Council? The ERC was set up to champion consumer interests; all its members have to abide by a strict code of ethics. If they say they are a member of the ERC, check its website to make sure.
- Are you independent? Some equity release advisers are tied to particular lenders, which means they can only advise on their products. Independent advisers can generally access most of the products on the market. Finding an independent adviser will therefore mean they can choose from a wider range of policies to find one that matches your personal circumstances.
- How long have you been advising on equity release? This isn’t a sure-fire way of sorting the wheat from the chaff, but choosing an adviser who is new to the sector may mean they are less likely to be familiar with all the available products.
- What are the pros and cons of equity release? If everything is rose tinted in their equity release world, they’re not giving you all the information you need to make the right decision for you. A good equity release adviser for the over 55s will be as open about the drawbacks as they are about the benefits.
- Do you ever advise clients not to take out an equity release scheme? If the answer is yes, then it’s a good sign that they will act in your interests, rather than their own.
- Do you offer an initial, no-obligation consultation? Good advisers should arrange to meet you free of charge to understand your circumstances, regardless of whether you go on to take out a loan through them.
- Can I invite my children/other loved ones to join our meetings? Equity release can impact on the estate you leave behind; it’s therefore helpful for any beneficiaries to understand your decision (and hopefully support it). Good equity release advisers will be keen to discuss the implications with your loved ones.
- Can I see some testimonials? Good equity release advisers will have testimonies from their happy clients that they are willing to share with you, subject to data restrictions.
It’s important that you find an equity release adviser who has the right expertise, will act in your best interests and with whom you feel comfortable discussing your personal finances. If you don’t warm to them when you meet them, it’s perfectly acceptable to look for another adviser.