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New battleground for equity release

JON KING, MANAGING DIRECTOR, HODGE LIFETIME

As circumstances change markets move on, and in equity release we have seen demand from different customer groups evolve as the economic circumstances have changed.

A good example of this is the increased interest among clients in using equity release funds to pay off debt.

Key Retirement Solutions reports that the proportion of its clients using equity release products to clear debt rose to 35% in 2009 compared with 11% in 2008.

This trend makes the addition of an advice arm to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service even more significant. Working on a not for profit basis I am sure this operation will ask many questions of existing distribution models. And interestingly, the initiative has been welcomed by Which?.

With many advisers pondering the potential impact of the Retail Distribution Review the no-fee model adds a fascinating dimension to the way clients can access advice.

For some years, advice has been compulsory for purchasers of these products – the question for the future must be how clients choose their advisers once they have made their minds up to look at their options.

Facilitated by the internet, this is likely to be the equity release client acquisition battleground of the next few years.

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