When looking into Equity Release, you likely want to know that you are dealing with reputable companies that are overseen by a trusted regulator. With any financial product, the rules and regulations need to be airtight to avoid any potential pitfalls or scams; luckily the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is there to ensure all consumers are protected from the harm caused by bad conduct in financial services.
There are many Equity Release advisers in the UK who can offer you advice, however it is important that you choose a company that is independent and is a member of the Equity Release Council (ERC). The ERC represents the Equity Release industry and has a stringent set of guidelines that its members must follow. These guidelines have been set out to ensure fair practice, so that customers can have full confidence in the advice they receive. Bower, for example, is independent and a member of the ERC. Not to mention our CEO Geoff Charles sits on the Equity Release Council Standards Board.
Yes, the FCA’s rules say that you must receive advice from a professional Equity Release adviser before taking out an Equity Release plan. The fact is that they are complicated products with sometimes lengthy processes and paperwork, and this can often be confusing. Not only will you need an Equity Release adviser, but we would recommend that you use a specialist solicitor to deal with the legal side of things, as Equity Release can be a complex financial product.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is a company that works as a conduit between customers and financial institutions in the event of a complaint. They are there to provide help for those who feel they have been mis-sold a financial product, experienced poor communication or customer service.
Members of the Equity Release Council are the most trustworthy advisers due to their adherence to the rules the ERC have set out. We would of course recommend our services due to our many years in the industry and our extensive knowledge of the products and how they can benefit homeowners. Releasing equity needn’t be a difficult process; working with an experienced adviser who understands all the features of the plans can make all the difference.