Blog / Retirement

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s so much as glimpsed recent news cycles that the equity release sector is currently undergoing a prolonged period of stratospheric growth, with more equity being released in the first half of 2018 than during the entirety of 2015. But buried beneath those headline-grabbers sit the details about customers’ changing habits and preferences. For instance, there’s been a 5% increase year-on-year in those gifting funds released through housing equity to friends and family, rising from 23% in the first six months of 2017 to 28% at the same point this year.

With the lives of our customers (and by extension their priorities and needs) constantly changing, the growth and success the equity release sector has seen over the past couple of years can only continue sustainably if lenders – and the wider market – continue to innovate and adapt in order to remain in step with consumer trends. A key tool in this regard is product innovation, and we’ve seen large steps being made in regard to product flexibility in recent years, which have included easily accessible provisions for porting and downsizing.

Products that include provision, which in certain circumstances, will mean no early repayment charges if one of the joint mortgage holders enters long term care. Many people currently enter into Deferred Payment Arrangements with local authorities and suffer the restrictions as a result (such as having to leave the property unoccupied, an untenable situation for those with joint occupancy). Reacting to equity release being a possible future solution and understanding how it can fit into the wider scheme of the care sector is just one example of how recognising the changing needs of a client base and innovating accordingly can yield results.

Innovations in technology can also ease the process for customers, and simplify the processes for brokers. A web presence has become ever-more vital and, thanks to the internet becoming increasingly populated, more and more difficult to stand out as either innovative or memorable. For instance, the digital toolkit helps advisers get the most out of their online presence and helps them stand out in an increasingly crowded environment.

Interfaces can also play a pivotal role in aiding brokers, simplifying their processes and by extension helping them to provide a leading service to their customers. Products such as online case trackers, which can provide an at-a-glance overview of all cases, and can follow the process from the KFI creation through to completion date.

A longtime staple of recent popular culture, apps are gradually making their way into the equity release sector, in both a customer-facing and broker-facing form. Equity Release Supermarket are set to launch a customer-facing app that will allow customers to check on the progress of their application without having to directly contact their financial adviser. Some providers, such as Pure Retirement, also have mobile apps which allow brokers to keep tabs on the progress of their clients’ applications and submissions and react to any stumbling blocks as needed. Both are further examples of the equity release sector reacting to changing trends and needs and tabling a potential solution.

With each quarter seemingly bringing yet more record figures, there has never been a better time for advisers to enter into the later life lending market. But more than that, in spite of customers’ needs and priorities constantly changing, at no point prior has there been such support and tools available for both experienced advisers and those new to the market. With that assistance, and the sector’s ongoing reaction to the evolving marketplace and resulting innovation, the future looks bright for advisers going forward.

 

This article has been written by Pure Retirement.

 

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