FCA finds inaccurate or misleading promotions in later life mortgage review

Poor advice and misleading promotions are a major concern when it comes to influencing consumers’ understanding of later life mortgages, a type of equity release for homeowners who want to release money tied up in their homes to help meet their needs, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The city regulator has worked with later life mortgage firms to improve their advice processes and prompted the removal or amendment of almost 400 misleading promotions.

It said its review uncovered far too many product benefits being highlighted without any balancing description of the risks, and firms using their FCA regulated status “in a promotional manner”.

The FCA found “in many cases” advice did not meet the standards expected. For example, the regulator said it had found a lack of evidence that sufficient consideration of consumers’ individual circumstances had been given and advice lacked discussion of alternatives.

The FCA has required those firms which fell short to improve the quality of their advice.

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said: “Releasing money tied up in your home later in life is a big decision and can have a financial impact on consumers and their families well into the future.

“Our review led to the largest later life mortgage firms making improvements to their sales and advice practices, and almost 400 promotions have been removed or amended where firms have identified issues with them. We expect all firms to assure themselves they comply with existing rules and guidance and higher standards under the consumer duty.”

It added that anyone who believes they were poorly advised can complain to the firm and, if they are dissatisfied with their response, to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Jim Boyd, chief executive of the Equity Release Council, said: “We support the FCA’s engagement with the lifetime mortgage sector, which helps tens of thousands of customers each year to enjoy better standards of living.

“We share the regulator’s commitment to putting customers first and ensuring they are fully informed and advised about their options. Its findings will inform our ongoing standards-setting work to help raise and reinforce best practice consistently across the sector.

“Modern equity release helps people to enjoy financial freedom and a better quality of life. Carefully considering the option of releasing equity, alongside all alternatives, should be part of every homeowner’s retirement planning.

“The Council and our members are undertaking significant work to reinforce advice standards and ensure clear customer communications. We wholeheartedly support the new Consumer Duty and will continue to work with the regulator, members and wider industry to take every opportunity to improve customer experiences.”



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One Comment

  1. AcornsRNuts

    Sadly many will be swayed by the sickly sweet smiling face of Carol Vorderperson as she encourages people to do so something she will never have to do herself. People will fall for it because the remember her as “that nice one from Countdown”.


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