Key Retirement Solutions says it has taken the concept of a mortgage club to a whole new level with the launch of Lifetime Advisory Services for intermediaries in the equity release market.
LAS is sponsored by Prudential, Just Retirement, Bridgewater, GE Life and Mortgage Express, and provides intermediary members with training, integrated factfinds and suitability reports, a research platform and full end-to-end case tracking.
It offers lifetime products from the whole of the market, with lenders and sponsors offering members exclusive products with an equal or higher rate of commission than available elsewhere.
The service is aimed at intermediaries who are serious about specialising in this market and already typically transact at least three equity release cases per month.
Dean Mirfin, business development director at LAS, says: This is the Cr笥 de la Cr笥 of mortgage clubs for equity release trained advisers who want to do better business for their clients. Dabblers need not apply.
He adds that despite KRS having around 33% market share, he hopes LAS will create a larger lifetime mortgage market than currently exists.
The service is also about raising standards, with members required to undertake a five-day course if they do not already hold a qualification in this area, or a three-day refresher course for those that do.
This, Mirfin says, is to stop knowledge decay, which he believes is one of the biggest problems facing equity release advisers.
On July 19, Clive Briault, managing director of retail markets at the Financial Services Authority, said: There is no place in this market for firms that do not develop the necessary skills and do not implement appropriate systems to ensure that they give suitable advice.
“We expect firms to commit to delivering quality advice or to refer the business to firms that have done so.
LAS therefore contractually requires members to retake training in equity release if they do not write a sufficient amount business in a period.
In addition, grandfathering is not allowed so despite FSA rules which allow those deemed competent under the MCCB rules to sell lifetime products without the relevant qualifications, all members must fully complete and pass the course before they have access to the system.
The initiative is good news for lenders as well as advisers and consumers, as not only is it intended to raise standards, but also encourage a larger market.
Mortgage Express, which currently receives around 30% of its equity release business from KRS, says it expects to see a 50% increase in business levels in the 12 months following the launch of LAS.
Chris Cummings, director general of the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries, says: Having repeatedly listened to requests from intermediaries committed to the equity release market for help in the advice process, KRSs new service is welcomed and a timely one.
It is good to see that rather than covert its expertise in the market it has elected to share it. I know it will be widely welcomed by the industry.