Equity Release Council’s membership surpasses 650 as sector builds momentum going into 2018

  • The Council’s membership has increased annually by almost a quarter, now standing at 219 member firms, as sector is boosted by new entrants
  • Number of individual members stands at 671 – up by almost a third in the last year
  • Rise in membership coupled with record growth in lending across 2017, with lending likely to pass £3bn for first time
  • Growth comes as David Burrowes formally assumes role of Chairman of The Council

The membership of the Equity Release Council (The Council) has increased annually by nearly a quarter (23%), rising to 219 from 178 at the same time last year, boosted by new entrants to the market. Similarly, The Council has seen an increase of nearly a third (31%) in individual members over the same period, rising from 511 in December 2016 to now stand at 671 individual members.

The membership growth is recognition of the increased role equity release is playing within the retirement planning landscape, against the backdrop of a sustained period of growth in the equity release sector. Lending in Q3 2017 surpassed £800 million for the first time in any single quarter, with the sector also on course to reach a record-breaking £3 billion in lending for the first time in a single year.

In a sign of its increasingly diverse membership, The Council has this year welcomed another household name, Nationwide, as its first building society provider member since re-launching from Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP) in 2012, and Lighthouse Group as the first of seven financial services network organisation members.

The growing appetite among firms in the equity release sector to join The Council is also testament to its ongoing commitment to best practice when providing advice and products to consumers, underpinned by the Standards and Statement of Principles which provide protection throughout the customer journey.

Among the protections offered are the no negative equity guarantee (NNEG), the guaranteed right to stay in your home for life or until you need to move into long-term care, the right to port a loan to a suitable property and a requirement that any customer taking out an equity release product from a Council member must first receive independent legal advice, alongside regulated financial advice – ensuring a robust advice process.

The latest growth milestone comes as David Burrowes assumes the role of Chairman of The Council from Nigel Waterson, who stepped down in November after almost six years at the helm during which time the membership and market both grew significantly.

As a lawyer and former Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate (2005-2017), Burrowes brings a wealth of experience to the role with a reputation as a proven campaigner and champion of consumer protection.

During his time in Parliament, Burrowes served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three Cabinet Ministers, across the Cabinet Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees.

David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council, comments:

“2017 has been a watershed year in the life of the equity release sector. The growth in numbers and diversity of The Council’s membership is testament to both the rigorous safeguards and product innovation within the market, that are increasingly helping to move housing wealth into the mainstream as a tool for financial planning in retirement. Property is, for many people, their largest asset and has the potential to play an even greater role in the future of retirement funding.

“I am eager to build on this momentum and look forward to engaging with our growing membership to ensure the sector is able to realise its potential, while maintaining product safeguards that are fit for purpose. Further collaboration with the broader late life industry is also vital to deliver the best customer outcomes.

“Using my experience gained in Parliament, I also look forward to strengthening the profile of equity release with a diverse range of political and regulatory stakeholders.” 

Kindly shared by Equity Release Council