Mortgage intermediaries believe that proposed exams for advisers who want to offer equity release products will make the mortgage market more specialised and weed out less dedicated players.
Mike Fitzgerald, sales director at Brentchase Financial Services, says: “Many brokers are very worried at the prospect of doing more exams, and say they will no longer do equity release products in the future if these exams are enforced. Many of them haven't even got CeMAP yet, so they may well not even get through the first lot of exams.”
Kevin Morgan, managing director of Hertfordshire-based EZI UK, believes exams are the only way to improve public perception of a seemingly “poorly qualified” industry and could mean greater opportunities for new entrants into the market.
Molrgan says: “Many people are reluctant to take more exams, but the fewer advisers there are, the more business there is for those who are prepared to switch on and invest in the future. That means attracting younger, more qualified and more able people into the industry.”
Sharon Onciu, head of operations at London-based CAG is quite convinced. She says: “I absolutely believe that people must be qualified before they are allowed to offer equity release. It is a specialist market where advisers are paid very high commission. It generally involves elderly and often vulnerable people, whose beneficiaries must be considered.”
Onciu adds that examinations will 'tighten up' the market: “People who refuse to take them will look shifty and unprofessional. If they are dedicated to the market they will accept them.”
Morgan believes that advisers will, one day, be authorised to give advice in specific areas, which require higher perceived knowledge; “the sort of knowledge that can best be demonstrated by qualifications.”