SOLLA News and Views

03 December 2021

Views: The new standard is a must for equity release advisers

Vanessa HKJ 4883 white2SOLLA’s Later Life Lending Advice Standard is a must for any financial planner who wants to be the best they can as a specialist equity release adviser.

The course material really pushes you to not just update your learning but constantly keep it refreshed. You’re also required to understand certain issues around later life, like care funding and vulnerability. This helps you see the bigger picture as an adviser, so you’re better equipped to provide holistic guidance to your clients.

The assessment is challenging, but it should be. We’re advising consumers at a pivotal point in their lives, so it’s imperative the advice we give is right for their circumstances.

Association with SOLLA is very beneficial

Being associated with SOLLA is fantastic, it’s seen as the gold standard in the later life industry. When consumers and fellow professionals see the SOLLA logo in my email signature and marketing material it creates a lot of trust and consolidates my credibility.

As a holder of the LLLAS, I also get ongoing access to an ever-growing library of brilliant training resources, including up-to-the-minute webinars.

Achieving the standard had an immediate positive impact on my advising

I achieved the standard in August 2021, and it had an immediate impact on how I deliver advice to my clients, with one particular example that sticks out.

I was contacted by Fiona, she’s single and in her 60s. Her job was making her extremely unhappy and she was on antidepressants as a result. Her mind was made up that she wanted to leave her job as soon as possible and then planned to retire. However, this approach would mean she’d no longer be able to afford her mortgage and may have to sell her home.

Fiona came to me having worked out how much money she thought she’d need to cover her mortgage and the income she’d lose before her state pension kicked in. The LLLAS encourages advisers to challenge client assumptions. So, my advice questioned what Fiona thought she wanted and, crucially, how much money she thought she needed.

After a consultation, I found there was so much she hadn’t considered, including any benefits she might be eligible for. And she hadn’t realised she didn’t need to secure all the necessary funds in one go, or release a huge chunk of cash up front. I also learnt that she was highly likely to inherit money in the future, another factor that completely changed her circumstances.

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I was able to see the bigger picture and keep my client’s options open

With the bigger picture in mind, I was able to keep options open for my client that her initial plans may have closed doors on.

Instead of selling her home, she’s been able to take out a lifetime mortgage with a cash reserve to draw down from if she needs to. Taking out a smaller amount of money upfront meant she was able to reduce the interest on her loan. It also meant she remained eligible for certain benefits and with my help has been able to claim Council Tax Reduction and other means-tested benefits.

I’ve had amazing feedback from Fiona, who’s now much happier. Her mental health has improved so much that she’s now considering looking for new full-time employment.

This was a hugely satisfying case for me. I not only achieved a positive outcome for my client, which is always my aim, but did it by putting into practice what I’d learnt from the LLLAS.

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https://laterlifelendingstandard.co.uk/