SHIP to stop dealing with unqualified brokers

Mortgage Strategy’s Rel-ease it Right campaign got a boost last week when equity release trade body Safe Home Income Plans gave advisers an ultimatum to get qualified by August 1 2007.

SHIP says that from this date its members will no longer accept business from advisers without a suitable lifetime mortgage qualification.

In the run-up to Mortgage Day, the Financial Services Authority said advisers deemed competent or experienced in lifetime mortgages would not be required to take qualifications.

This meant only those new to lifetime mortgages were required to take the exam, although many firms chose to do so to stay ahead of the game.

Since last year when the Institute of Financial Services launched the Certificate in Lifetime Mortgages, 2,000 advisers have registered and SHIP is hoping that more will now do so.

Roger Hillier, product development manager at Mortgage Express, says: “From a product provider’s perspective there is an anomaly in the industry whereby anyone new coming into the market has to pass an equity release exam. But if you had passed CeMAP before Mortgage Day in 2004, you didn’t need it. We want to remove that anomaly and make sure everyone has achieved a minimum standard.”

Dean Mirfin, business development director at Key Retirement Solutions, says: “Most equity release business comes from brokers and IFAs who only do a case now and again. They haven’t been motivated to take the exam and that is where the risk lies. SHIP wants them to take lifetime mortgages seriously and raise standards.”

Andrea Rozario, partner at Rozario & Co, agrees.

She says: “If you want to advise in this market it’s no big deal to take the exam and it helps improve the image of equity release.”

Although SHIP effectively making qualifications mandatory for advisers may put some brokers off the sector, Rozario says the lifetime mortgage market is a minefield and brokers who only dabble in it pose a threat to the rest of the industry.

But Danny Lovey, sole broker at The Mortgage Practitioner, says advising on lifetime mortgages isn’t viable for sole brokers because there isn’t enough business to support them.

He adds: “If a sole broker decides to do lifetime business they have to notify the FSA and their professional indemnity insurance firm as well as getting the relevant qualification. It’s just not worth it at the moment.”