- Tuesday, 29 May 2012
After 20-years of campaigning on behalf of equity release providers, SHIP will relaunch as The Equity Release Council (The Council) on Monday, 28 May 2012 and broaden its membership to include advisers, lawyers, surveyors and other interested parties.
At a time when the nation is facing a crisis of underinvestment in pensions, leaving millions facing a bleak retirement, new standards of protection are being put in place to ensure that equity release can safely help to fill the gap in retirement incomes.
For the first time in the sector’s history, all aspects of equity release advice and product provision will be covered by one body committed to the highest standards of consumer protection and education.
In addition, this move will see the organisation work with its new members to develop a broader code of conduct that will complement the consumer guarantees that existing members offer customers.
Accessibility will also be improved as using the new website (www.equityreleasecouncil.com), consumers will be able to easily identify advisers, providers, solicitors and organisations who abide by the Council standards. This resource will also play a key role in educating consumers as to the choices that they have with regards to using their housing equity in retirement.
The Equity Release Council will be headed by the Chair (Nigel Waterson) who will oversee the direction of the organisation and the Director General (Andrea Rozario) who will take responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Council.
Consumer safeguards are at the heart of the organisation’s development and the newly-formed Standards Board (headed by Chris Pond) will determine and maintain the principles the Council members must adhere to. This will be done via The Council’s Technical Committees who will be responsible for engaging with members to help the industry work as one to further improvements in the customer journey, whilst facilitating a positive environment for all those who work in the industry.
Nigel Waterson, Chairman of The Equity Release Council, comments:
"This is a really significant day for thousands of older people in the UK. After an extensive engagement process, equity release now has a trade body which represents the entire sector - The Equity Release Council. This is excellent news for the industry as by working together we can ensure that Government and potential customers understand the benefits that equity release can provide.”
Andrea Rozario, Director General of The Equity Release Council, continues:
“With housing equity likely to be at the heart of many peoples retirement planning now – and in the future – it is vital that as an industry, we adapt to meet consumer needs. The launch of the Council provides us with an excellent opportunity not only to make equity release products easier to access for customers but to encourage more product development to meet UK consumers’ changing retirement needs.”
Chris Pond, Chair of the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, comments:
"Equity release could help many people meet their needs in retirement - a better quality of life, meeting the costs of long-term care, giving a helping hand to a younger generation or just clearing debts. But the market for equity release can only grow if the public and policymakers have confidence that the highest standards of consumer protection will be maintained.
“That's why it's important that all those engaged in equity release sign up to a code of conduct that meets consumer needs. The Equity Release Council will fulfil a vital role in building on the work of SHIP by extending that commitment throughout the industry".
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