SHIP rebrands as the Equity Release Council

Safe Home Income Plans will open up its membership on Monday to advisers, lawyers and surveyors as it rebrands as the Equity Release Council.

The trade body hopes its rebrand and new structure will help to pro­mote the sector and educate consumers looking to release the equity in their property.

It will be working with members to develop a new code of conduct and customers will be able to identity members of the council through its new website.

It will be headed by former Conservative shadow pensions minister Nigel Waterson, who will oversee the direction of the organisation, while SHIP director-general Andrea Rozario will take responsibility for its day-to-day  running.

A newly-formed standards board will be led by Chris Pond, for­mer  director of financial capability at the Financial Services Authority, who will set the principles that members must adhere to.

This will be done via the body’s technical committees, which will be responsible for engaging with members to help the industry to work together to improve the customer experience while facilitating a positive environment for all those who work in the industry.

Rozario says: “With housing equity likely to be at the heart of many people’s retirement planning, it is vital that as an industry, we adapt to meet consumer needs.

“The launch of the Equity Release Council provides us with an opportunity to make equity release products easier to access and  encourage more product development to meet consumers’ changing needs.”

Simon Chalk, equity release planner at Bower Retirement Services, says his firm and its 15 advisers in­tend to join the council and uphold its code of conduct.

He adds: “The sector has spent a long time apologising for mistakes that happened 20 years ago. It’s time it stopped apologising.

“When it is used properly, equity release can make a difference to somebody’s life. It is time that message was put across to consumers.”