How Do I Check Whether My Equity Release Advisor is Trustworthy?

When considering equity release, many people are aware that they need an independent financial advisor but a great number of people worry about whether they can fully trust the person who is providing them with important financial advice. Many people are concerned by this and wonder if it is possible to check whether their equity release advisor is trustworthy or not.

There are a number of routes which can be taken to ensure that your independent financial advisor is trustworthy. These include:

Check with the FCA:
The FCA or Financial Conduct Authority has the authority to regulate companies in the financial services of the UK. They aim to ensure the stability of the industry, promote a sense of healthy competition and protect the consumer. They have investigative, rule-making and enforcement abilities which allow them to enforce regulations and protect the financial service industry. Companies or individuals can only participate in regulated activities in the UK financial industry if they have been authorised or registered by the FCA.

The FCA maintain a register of companies and individuals who are registered to conduct regulated financial services business. However, if your independent financial advisor is part of an advisory company they may not have an individual listing. They also may not show up on the register if they are only an equity release and mortgage advisor. If this is the case, you could ensure that their advisory company are listed and then check with the company to ensure that the advisor is authorised by them.

The FCA has also compiled a list of unauthorised firms and known fraudulent scams. You could also check this list as a precaution.

Check with the ERC
The Equity Release Council is a trade body which specialises in the equity release industry. They have a list of all current members on their main website. It has provision to search for individual members and organisers which are registered with the ERC. However, it is not mandatory for all equity release advisors to be a member of the ERC.

Contact the proposed lender
Since the equity release industry is heavily regulated and monitored, there is a declaration on each application form with the advisor’s details. Lenders have a master list of authorised companies and individuals who are legitimately able to provide advisory services. If you are unable to verify your advisor through the FCA or ERC, you could contact the proposed lender directly to see if they are registered. However, you should use independent contact information from a reputable source such as the FCA website rather than use any paperwork supplied by your advisor.

Conducting financial business requires a great deal of trust. Equity release products can have long term consequences and are heavily regulated. However, if you are concerned about how trustworthy your equity release advisor is, it is certainly worth taking the time to reassure yourself. You may regret not investigating your suspicions if you are in fact working with a fraudulent independent financial advisor. There are a number of reputable websites which can assist you to verify the qualifications and suitability of your advisor and allow you to proceed with true confidence.