Brokers welcomed the launch of a new online tool that helps potential clients better understand individual equity release plans, but stressed the importance of personalized advice to ensure the borrower is getting the right one. decision.
This week, the Equity Release Supermarket advisor launched a new search engine tool called Smarter, which he says makes it easier for potential borrowers to understand plans that might be open to them, before properly speaking to an advisor.
Borrowers are encouraged to share offers regarding their case, such as the subject of the loan, whether they wish to receive a lump sum or monthly income, and property details. They are then presented with a shortlist of equity release plans, allowing the potential client to educate themselves on the terms and conditions of each transaction and do their own research.
Mark Gregory, Founder and CEO of Equity Release Supermarket, said the company strives to be as “open and transparent” as possible, to ensure that when a potential customer speaks to one of the advisors at the company, he is convinced that the release of the shares is the correct one. solution for them.
He continued: “The current landscape of freeing up equity just isn’t for knowledge-hungry consumers who want to research their options at their own pace. It is as if the private equity industry believes that consumers should not be given the opportunity to develop their own understanding, what we know from our research is a huge frustration and a reason why some are skeptical about freeing up equity.
Gregory noted that a significant number of clients had asked how they could better understand equity release plans, without speaking to an advisor first, and noted that Smarter was designed to complement the advisory process rather than replace it.
“The information the client provides to generate their results is shared with their advisor so that when their conversation begins, the advisor already has a detailed understanding of the consumer and what they are looking to achieve financially through the release of equity. . ”
Borrowers benefit from unprecedented choice
Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council, praised the launch of Smarter, noting that the pandemic has accelerated the role of technology in the stock release industry.
Boyd added, “The fierce competition means that today’s market offers older homeowners an unprecedented choice of products that offer secure and flexible financing. Helping consumers understand the modern market can further open their eyes to the potential benefits of accessing real estate wealth later in life.
More advice than choosing the cheapest rate
Stuart Powell, Managing Director of Ocean Mortgages, said he supports any technological advancement that helps a borrower find the right solution, and agreed that there are currently no tools available for potential borrowers that will help them find the right solution. know the interest rates they may be facing depending on the amount they wish to borrow.
However, he stressed that the role of a stock release advisor is not just to choose the right rate for the client, noting that initially his company is looking at options that are not even based on the rate. borrowing, such as savings, investments or even downsizing.
Powell added that only by learning about each client could an advisor identify a product that meets their needs not only now, but also for the future.
He warned, “A technology solution that gives the customer a deal they think is the right one, based purely on the rate, could lead to customers ending up with the wrong solution for their needs.
Brokers must equip borrowers with the knowledge they need
Sami Bickford, Managing Director of The Equity Release Lady, noted that while she would encourage more education for potential clients, she wondered if a search engine would provide the information they need, possibly leading them to the wrong one. way.
She explained, “For example, if a client is looking to raise a certain amount to pay off an existing interest-only mortgage and the system tells them that amount is not possible to increase the amount they need, they can consider that to be the end of the line. .
“If they were to see an experienced counselor they will know if the client has poor health and some medical issues, it may mean they can get a more profitable loan and be able to meet their goal.”
Bickford added that it is up to individual brokers to provide potential borrowers with free guides, brochures and calculators covering all areas of the industry to ensure they have the knowledge they need if they wish to pursue investigation.
Technology can help raise the profile of the industry
Andy Wilson, director of Andy Wilson Financial Services, noted that the industry had been “pretty much a ‘closed shop’ to the public” for years, where the only way to research products and options was to contact an advisor. and invite them to your accommodation, which could create mistrust, anxiety and nervousness among borrowers.
He added that services like Smarter could address some of the concerns of potential borrowers, provided they clearly indicate the need for real advice from a qualified advisor.
Wilson continued: “Only an experienced advisor will know the nuances of the lender, which may mean that some properties or situations will have limited appeal to lenders. Although the product is a mortgage, they are different from anything available in the traditional mortgage market and require careful attention to detail.
However, Wilson stressed that it was positive to see companies ‘grabbing the nettle’ by developing useful technology, noting that this would likely help raise the profile of the industry further.