The equity release industry has spoken out against calls from the Society for Equity Release Advisers (SERA) to ban telephone-based equity release advice.
SERA issued a statement yesterday urging the FSA to ban telephone sales of equity release.
However, telephone-based equity release adviser, Age Partnership argues there is a place for both over-the-phone and face-to-face advice.
It points out customer choice is paramount and the number of plans arranged over the telephone has actually increased as the size of the equity release industry has decreased.
Tim Loy, chief executive of Age Partnership, says he was surprised and disappointed about comments from Simon Chalk of SERA relating to over-the-telephone equity release advice.
He says: "These comments are ill-informed and appear to be made from a position of self-interest. He clearly does not understand the benefits of the telephone-based model, enabling, among other things, every conversation between adviser and client to be recorded and scrutinised for training and compliance purposes.
"The important thing is that, whatever model is used, advisers should ensure they have the appropriate systems and training in place to deliver the client clear, independent and honest advice."
Peter Welch, head of sales & distribution at Bridgewater Equity Release, agrees consumers have their own preference for how they interact with suppliers.
He comments: "Increasingly people only want to do business through the channel of their choice of which the phone is one. Firms giving telephone equity release advice should have the appropriate systems and controls in place, such as call recording and call monitoring. With this level of customer protection there should be no difference in the advice customers receive compared to any other channel."
Clare Barker, chairman of the Equity Release Solicitors Alliance (ERSA), adds the requirement for home owners to obtain legal advice before entering into contracts meant most homeowners will be seen in person at this stage, providing security for advisers selling products over the telephone.
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