Fair Value Assessment
Fair Value Assessment
Equity Release Associates Limited
Equity Release Associates Limited is a manufacturer of the advice service we provide in relation to home finance solutions. The following information has been created to detail our approach and adherence to the Financial Conduct Authority’s fair value regulations.
As a home finance intermediary, and a manufacturer of the advice service that we offer, Equity Release Associates Limited must comply with regulatory obligations that require us to maintain, operate, and review our service on a regular basis. This process is designed to ensure that the service offers fair value to customers within our target market. To aid in conducting a fair value assessment, we have gathered information that clearly demonstrates we do not compromise the service’s fair value to customers within our target market.
During our current and ongoing review of our service, if Equity Release Associates Limited becomes aware that any distribution activity is negatively impacting the intended value of our service, we commit to taking appropriate corrective measures.
Fair Value Assessment:
Equity Release Associates Limited has well established Product Governance procedures in place and as part of our fair value assessment, we have considered how our years of expertise have enabled us to mould a successful business allowing us to offer suitable lending solutions to customers.
We have considered the following areas as part of our fair value assessment:
• Our target market
• The benefits and limitations of our service
• The cost and charges
• Our distribution strategy
• Enhanced services
• Regular Reviews
The assessment has concluded that the advice service continues to offer fair value to the target market.
Equity Release Associates Limited’s target market is UK consumers aged 55 plus. They are at or approaching retirement and seeking financial guidance or advice to meet their financial objectives in their later years. They wish to ensure their quality of life through retirement is either maintained or indeed improved and thus wish to consider a range of options as part of later life planning.
The target audience for our communication consists of three core segments;
• Financially capable older individuals or couples, with high value assets looking to enhance their lifestyle;
• Older individuals or couples owning their houses, planning for retirement; and
• Pensioners in modest accommodation using traditional methods to manage their finances and make life more comfortable.
Benefits and Limitations:
Our home finance services are designed to support customers who want to utilise the equity in their property to achieve their financial objectives. By seeking advice from our team of experts, customers can access a range of Equity Release options that would not otherwise be available.
At Equity Release Associates Limited, we offer access to a variety of home finance solutions that are tailored to each customer’s individual circumstances and our experts carefully assess each customer’s needs and goals to identify the most suitable solution for them.
At the core of our service is the belief that individuals seeking to access the equity in their property deserve expert and unbiased advice on their options. Our customers also expect a welcoming and efficient experience, something that we take great pride in delivering to our customers.
What is this service?
Impartial, professional and personal advice from a qualified adviser with the expertise to establish which solution is suitable based on the personal circumstances and objectives of our target market.
An explanation of each of the solutions available; displaying comprehensive knowledge of the various features available.
Direct to consumer advice on Equity Release, tailored to each customer’s unique circumstances.
Explanations and advice are provided in plain English, providing customers with the information they need, at the right time, and presented in a way they can understand, cutting through the jargon.
Transparent costs and charges.
A commitment to the highest professional standards throughout.
Our end-to-end process is designed to assist customers throughout their entire journey.
What customer need does this meet?
Our services allow customers to utilise equity within their UK owned properties for a variety of reasons to maintain or improve their current circumstances or enhance their life.
Our product is designed for customers who are looking to use their property assets to:
- Pay off their outstanding mortgages or debts.
- Make lifestyle and/or home improvements.
- Need funds for their domiciliary care needs.
- Make significant purchases such as a new vehicle, holidays, property.
- Support for everyday living costs.
- Consider their holistic retirement planning.
Who is this product designed/suitable for? Who is the target market?
Our service is suitable for the following :
- Single or joint applicants aged 55 or over who have a main residence property of standard construction and are classed as ‘Homeowners’.
- Are living in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
- Are of any tax status.
Who is it not suitable for?
Our service is not suitable for customers:
- Who do not reside in the UK or spend more than 6 months outside of the UK, per annum.
- Who may want to use their equity for gambling purposes.
- Who are unable to understand the complexities and risks of what they are entering into.
- Who do not want to reduce the equity in the property and ultimately the value of their estate.
Can this product be bought without advice?
How can this product be bought?
Either face-to-face or via telephone.
Costs and Charges:
Our service is regularly reviewed to evidence that our fees offer and continue to offer fair value to our customers.
Equity Release Associates Limited offers a valuable service utilising standardised guidelines to meet our regulatory obligations, quality assurance systems and controls and adviser training, which ensure consistently suitable advice while reducing the risk of customer harm.
We are immensely proud of our bespoke systems and reporting. Equity Release Associates Limited’s unbiased advice and end to end service includes post-advice customer support and a fee is only payable upon completion. We continue to review and enhance our proposition to enable us to remain the UK’s number one in equity release and our advice fee reflects the effort required to providing our market leading service.
A range of communication channels are available to accommodate and support customers in their interactions with us.
Equity Release Associates Limited’s equity release service comprises of a whole of market service which allows us to explore all available options and recommend a suitable solution based on the customer’s preferences and priorities.
We also remain in contact with our customers each year after their equity release plan completes to offer a free plan review. Our advisers consider any Early Repayment Charges and fees, and if it is not beneficial to the customer to switch plans and achieve a better outcome, we will advise our customers of this. Again, a fee would only be payable on completion and if a new valid solution is found.
Due to the demographic of our target market, we are pleased to offer a range of communication channels including a face to face service, video call, telephone, email and written correspondence to accommodate and support customers in their interactions with us. Customers are provided with a dedicated advisor and customer support specialist personal to their enquiry. The customer is provided specific contact details to communicate directly with these people.
For customers wishing to utilise our face to face service, where available this is offered to customers wishing to explore equity release but that may benefit from receiving advice in the comfort of their own home.
Face to face appointments are recommended by Equity Release Associates Limited where we have identified a customer as potentially vulnerable, who may benefit from additional support during their interactions with us. Customers with characteristics of vulnerability will be offered access to these additional features as standard, the remainder of our customers may be offered these services if they are appropriate for their needs and we have sufficient resource available to us to deliver them in a timely manner, but not all customers will require or be offered a video or face to face appointment.
The FCA define a vulnerable customer as ‘someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to harm, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.’
Vulnerability can come in many forms, be temporary, sporadic, or permanent. Although many people in vulnerable situations would not diagnose themselves as ‘vulnerable’, we have robust systems, controls and guidance to enable colleagues to identify potential vulnerabilities and adjust their approach to support our customers during their interactions with us.
Our range of communication channels have allowed us to adapt our service to ensure that customers with characteristics of vulnerability receive a service that enables them to access all the same benefits and products as all other customer groups.
It is vital that Equity Release Associates Limited understands its customers’ needs and gathers feedback on the service that has been provided as this can be crucial to highlight any areas that may need to be developed or improved within the customer journey.
We regularly review the appropriateness of our service. We conduct reviews and hold regular meetings and committees with key stakeholders across the business to discuss various feedback from multiple sources, including email communications, Trust Pilot reviews and complaints data. We consider a wide range of information including the timescales to completion, current or emerging trends within the business and the wider industry, the customer journey and the suitability of our advice.
All information is discussed at the most senior level within the business and we are committed to continued development and progress, we also use this date to assess if our processes remain suitable for our target market.