Lifetime mortgages and home reversion schemes are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (previously Financial Services Authority FSA).
This means that there are rules about what providers must tell you when you take out an equity release plan.
If they do not follow these rules and something goes wrong, you have the right to seek redress through the Financial Ombudsman Scheme.
If you take out a scheme with an unauthorised provider, you will not be able to use the complaints and compensations scheme. Check with the FCA that the firm you are dealing with is authorised.
Choosing an adviser
You should always get advice from a properly-qualified independent financial adviser. ‘Independent’ means they are not restricted to selling schemes from just one or two firms.
When choosing a financial adviser:
- Check that your adviser is authorised by the FCA.
- Is your adviser independent or tied to a particular provider?
- Have they passed specialist equity release exams?
- What experience do they have in advising on these plans?
- Did they try to get to know your circumstances and needs?
- Have they discussed different options with you, not just one?
- If you feel rushed or pushed by your adviser, go elsewhere.
- Check documents and forms carefully before signing anything.
You can search for a financial adviser on the Money Advice Service retirement adviser directory or through the Equity Release Council, the Personal Finance Society or www.unbiased.co.uk
Before you sign up to an equity release plan, speak to an independent solicitor who has equity release knowledge. The Law Society or the Equity Release Council can provide you with a list of local solicitors in England.