Safe Home Income Plans has revealed it is increasing its fees from £6,000 a year to £24,000 to pay for a full-time director-general and two members of support staff.
Following a strategic review by non-executive chairman Laurie Edmans, SHIP decided to increase its staff levels and set up a central London office.
As all SHIP activity until now has been undertaken on a voluntary basis, membership fees will have to increase fourfold to fund the new staff, a move which SHIP says is supported by members. The increase will come into effect next January.
The director-general will focus on developing SHIP’s strategy and communicating with stakeholders in the industry, including independent financial advisers, product providers, consumers, the media, regulators, consum- er groups and the government. SHIP’s primary aim will remain en-suring that equity release products are safe for consumers,
but a new priority will be to raise the profile of the sector and awareness of how it is evolving.
Once appointed, the director-general will work with the organisation’s main board, including representatives of all 21 SHIP members who meet twice a year to decide its direction.
The director-general will also work with a newly formed management board, which will meet 10 times a year to execute the main board’s decisions.
The management board will in-clude Edmans, a deputy chairman and five directors drawn from member companies who will act as topic leaders for major issues facing SHIP.
The five topic leaders will include Simon Little, product manager of eq-uity release at Tomorrow, who will act as lifetime mortgage leader and Gra-eme Marshall, chief executive of Home & Capital Trust, who will act as reversions leader.
Jon King, chief executive of SHIP, says: “Actions speak louder than words and the fact that members have agreed to higher membership costs shows how committed they are.”
Dean Mirfin, business development director at Key Retirement Solutions, says: “The principle of having a full-time director-general is a good one, but the crucial issue is who SHIP gets for the job.
“It will need to be someone with good awareness of the market who can comfortably mingle with the equity re-lease industry’s big players.”
Elizabeth Boardall, head of marketing for post-retirement products at Norwich Union, says: “We support this step towards maintaining the equity release market. It will encourage robust product development and the use of appropriate advice from qualified advisers.”