What Qualifications Should My Equity Release Consultant Have?

Equity release schemes are a range of financial products which offer the opportunity for home owners to release the equity which is tied up in their property without the need to move home. Unlike conventional mortgage products, these schemes do not have a fixed term specified and include a provision for the client to remain in the home for the rest of their lives. However, since this is a very specialised area of financial services, any consultant must have the relevant Institute of Financial Services or Chartered Insurance Institute qualifications in order to provide advice about the product ranges.

Is My Consultant Qualified to Provide Equity Release Advice?
This can be a little confusing for consumers since there are two exam bodies, which provide qualifications for the activity involved in equity release advice. They must have initially passed the standard FCA mortgage exam CeMap and all advisors must have qualifications in this specific area of finance. However, the two exam bodies offer different certification and attribute different letters after the name of the advisor.

Most consultants will widely advertise whether they have attained the qualification to advise on a particular range of products and services. However, it may not necessarily provide the best possible option for your requirements to choose a consultant who although qualified, does not specialise in dealing with equity release schemes frequently.

What Are the Equity Release Qualifications?
The two exam boards offer two different qualifications for the field of equity release.

The Institute of Financial Services require the CeRER examination. This is the Certificate in Regulated Equity Release. It is a Financial Conduct Authority approved qualification which allows those who pass the examination to comply with the regulations of the FCA in the sales and marketing of equity release schemes including home reversion plans and lifetime mortgages. This Institute of Financial Services qualification fully meets the regulatory requirements and allows consultants to develop a comprehensive knowledge for the equity release industry. In order to pass the Institute of Financial Services exam, the consultant must be able to demonstrate that they can assess affordability and suitability for equity release schemes and the potential risks, advantages and disadvantages for consumers which are associated with committing to an equity release product. Upon passing the Institute of Financial Services examination, consultants can use a designation of CeRER after their name.

The Chartered Insurance Institute requires a Certificate in Equity Release. This certification provides documentation that the consultant has developed an understanding of the regulation, market practices and products of equity release and understands the customer needs or requirements. This certification complies with the regulatory examination requirements of the FCA and is primarily taken by individuals providing sales support, marketing or administration associated with equity release. Advisors with the Chartered Insurance Institute qualification will have the designation of Certs CII (MP & ER) following their name.

Does it Matter how My Consultant is Qualified?
Whether your consultant has the Institute of Financial Services or the Chartered Insurance Institute qualification, they can provide advice and application assistance for many equity release schemes. However, you should check whether the consultant is independent or associated with a specific company. This may restrict the selection of schemes which they can advise on. Independent consultants tend to be able to provide a wider range of products and services which may be more likely to be the best possible deal.

If you are interested in an equity release product, it is important that your consultant is properly qualified. You should check whether your consultant has the Institute of Financial Services CeRER or the Chartered Insurance Institute Certs CII to be confident that they have the necessary qualifications to be able to provide you with advice.