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Comment: A lot done, more to do

Self-deprecation may be the most British trait there is. Whether it’s in our personal lives or in work, congratulating ourselves for a job well done is something many of us struggle with.

Within equity release, the last three years have been strong and we should be marching onto even more record-setting years in the near future. So, we should take a moment to take stock and congratulate everyone from advisers to lenders – but only a moment.

According to the Financial Conduct Authority’s ‘Financial Lives’ report, there is still a substantial trust gap between the public and financial advisors. A quite staggering number of people – as many as two thirds – claim that they ‘do not trust the financial services industry.’

Claims like these really are a gut-punch for the advisers and professionals within our industry who put their life and soul into delivering the best for their clients. Moreover, it is a reality check for us all that regardless of how successful we are in terms of pounds and pence, the opinion of our customers and the broader general public is what matters most.

I know that advisers in the equity release industry are some of the best in the business. They have a broad understanding of the entire mortgage industry, while also being able to specialise and narrow their skill set in order to advise what is seen as an often vulnerable section of society. But regardless of their various abilities, we must narrow this gap in trust if we are to get anywhere.

Simplifying our language and the products on offer would be a start, but the real solution will come from a synergy between industry, media and government. Only if we work together to make things better for our customers can we hope to win back their trust.

Paul Wareham is managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services

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