AMI hits out at standalone equity release qualification

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The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries has criticised the idea of a standalone equity release qualification, warning that it would cause consumer harm.

Earlier today the Society of Mortgage Professionals and Personal Finance Society said 61 per cent of its members backed the idea of a standalone qualification to enable pensions and investment advisers to sell equity release products without being fully qualified to sell all types of mortgages.

Currently advisers must be mortgage-qualified up to level three in order to advise on equity release.

AMI chief executive Robert Sinclair says: “The potential risk is they will only advise on an equity release lifetime mortgage product, and there will be other products available which may be both cheaper and more appropriate for the consumer at that time, but which they are not authorised to advise on.”

Sinclair continues: “The AMI policy position is that we strongly oppose any move to a standalone equity release qualification that does not take into account the full extent of mortgage lending, particularly as we are currently seeing a move from the regulator to move back to mortgage lending all the way up the age curve.

“Therefore, anyone who wants to advise should be fully qualified in mortgages as well as equity release in order to make sure the consumer has the right outcome.

“It is unhelpful when professional bodies decide to muddy the waters in areas of regulation and pretending to be a trade body.”

The FCA is consulting on the merits of a standalone equity release qualification, which could be taken by pensions and investment advisers as a top-up to their existing credentials without them having to qualify in all other areas of conventional mortgage advice.