Blog > Highlights of the Equity Release Summit 2024

Highlights of the Equity Release Summit 2024

By Richard Groom • 30th May 2024 • 3 min read

General election sets the tone for industry summit

Written in line with our editorial policy.

Delegates at the Equity Release Summit 2024 met against the backdrop of a looming General Election.  

Held in Westminster on 23 May, the event was billed by organisers at the Equity Release Council as ‘The landmark event in the later life lending calendar’. Stakeholders from across the equity release sector – including financial and mortgage advisers, solicitors and funders – gathered for a day of insight and discussion.

Meeting the nation’s challenges

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a 4 July General Election just a day before the Summit was certainly reflected in at least one of the speakers’ presentations.   

Former member of parliament Chris Pond, Chair of the Equity Release Council’s Standards Board, said that whoever wins on 4 July, they would be facing tight financial restraints. Furthermore, he said that industry and political collaboration would be important in order to meet these challenges.

He went on to point out that there is a projected £5.2 trillion of non-mortgaged equity in UK property, with 50% estimated to be held by over-55s.

“If we can safely release more of that equity,” he said, “then we can meet many of the challenges we face as a nation, such as the growing need to fund long-term care and supplement retirement, to help many older people struggling due to rising living costs.”

Meanwhile, a panel discussion focused on transforming consumer perspectives about equity release. In it, Henry Tapper of AgeWise called for further emphasis on the positive side of equity release, rather than the negative ones which he feels often feature in the media. He shared his experience of supporting his mother as she released equity from her home in 2023.

Women at a disadvantage in later life financial planning

Another panel discussion looked at the ‘gender disparity’ in later life lending, where women may be at a disadvantage when it comes to financial planning.

Catherine Foot, director of Phoenix Insights, argued that women are ‘structurally disadvantaged’ in these matters. She said that statistically, women receive much less education and communication when it comes to financial planning – and this is especially true in later life.

She also mentioned other factors, such as more part-time working among women and the fact that pensions are often overlooked in divorce settlements. These mean that many women over 50 can be left vulnerable financially as they move into retirement and beyond.

Into retirement with a mortgage

Other topics covered at the Summit included changing customer needs in the later-life lending space. Ben Waugh, managing director of equity release provider More2life, in particular mentioned the prospect of more people retiring with a mortgage and long term debt. 

He said: “Probably one in five customers are going to retire with a mortgage and with long term debt and, as we go forward, my suspicion is that percentage is going to go up and up and up.”

Equity release is potentially a solution for paying off a mortgage in retirement. Of course, other options are available for retirees finding themselves with a mortgage and insufficient income to make the payments.

‘Cautious optimism’ about the future

David Burrowes, chair of the Equity Release Council, spoke about his optimism for the equity release sector, and for consumers aged 55+ choosing this form of finance. 

He listed recent reductions in inflation and equity release interest rates, the availability of higher loan to values (LTVs) and improved economic growth as positive signs. He said: “I do think we can be cautiously optimistic about the future.” 

About Richard Groom. A writer with 20+ years’ experience across several sectors including financial services, Richard has a passion for writing clear and simple content on even the most complex of subjects. In his spare time, Richard loves exploring the hills and mountains of the UK on long walks with his faithful cocker spaniel. Follow Richard on LinkedIn

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