FCA proposes standalone equity release qualification

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The FCA is considering a standalone equity release qualification to give more customers access to the product, including through advisers.

The suggestion is part of a consultation on exam standards, which closes on 13 December.

The equity release qualification proposal follows discussions as part of the regulator’s work on competition in the mortgage market.

The consultation paper says: “Some stakeholders suggested that some IFAs may not be offering equity release because, before they can do so, they need to be appropriately qualified for a product (mortgages) that otherwise they have no interest in selling.”

The FCA is suggesting either a standalone equity release qualification or a way to achieve competency by topping up existing pensions or investment qualifications.

It adds: “We would like to get a better sense of the numbers of those without an appropriate mortgage qualification who would be interested in achieving the relevant appropriate qualification to sell equity release.”

However, nearly two-thirds of attendees at a Financial Service Expo session today said that advisers should not have easier access to any product area.

Sixty per cent of the audience said easier access was a bad idea.

Key Retirement technical director Dean Mirfin said the next six months in equity release would see rates keep falling and the market become more mainstream.

He added that, due to FCA rule changes, more serviceable lending options would emerge to further protect clients against default.