13 December 2022

Interview with Chris Fisk, Director of the Equity Release Advice Company

With more clients exploring equity release as a vehicle to repay interest-only mortgages, we spoke to equity release specialist and business owner, Chris Fisk. Having worked in the industry for more than a decade, Chris shared his views on the market as a whole, and how products such as the Optional Payment Lifetime Mortgage (OPLM) are changing the way his clients view equity release.

What’s your background and how did you get into Equity Release?

"I entered the mortgage business over a decade ago, starting as a residential mortgage consultant to now running a specialist equity release firm, The Equity Release Advice Company.

My journey into Equity Release was almost by accident. It wasn’t something that naturally appealed nor was it something many advisers were offering. At the time, its reputation wasn’t great, but after completing my first case, I was soon converted and it was all I wanted to do. 

10 years down the line, I’m proud to have built a family-run specialist Equity Release business, offering my clients clear and independent advice on the pros and cons of lifetime mortgages."

Have you seen a change in the equity release market?

"Absolutely. Since I qualified, we’ve seen the market grow. New lenders, new products, have all helped shape the industry into what it is today. Long-gone are the days where equity release was about the ‘Three C’s’ – cruises, conservatories and caravans.

It’s completely evolved and we’re now seeing many of our clients use equity release products to support their loved ones with an early inheritance or using equity release products to pay off interest-only mortgages.

Not only has the industry evolved, but so have the types of clients we deal with on a regular basis. We’re seeing more people explore the options of equity release in their mid-sixties which still takes me by surprise – a contrast to the typically older 80-something client we saw exploring equity release early on in my career.

Pleasingly, the clients we see seeking advice nowadays are generally more switched on about their finances, and particularly equity release."

What is it about the Optional Payment Lifetime Mortgage product that appeals to some clients over others?

"We’re seeing a lot of lenders tighten up the affordability requirements for traditional residential mortgages, particularly for older clients. As a result, there are a lot of people who can’t refinance.

A lot of my OPLM business comes from introducers or financial advisers who have clients in this position. They’re looking for a product that enables them to keep up with interest payments – one that feels like the interest-only mortgage they’ve been comfortably paying, but due to their age and the product coming to term are no longer eligible for.

The certainty of managing the interest is what sets the OPLM product apart from other lifetime mortgages. Of course, there are other lifetime mortgages where the client can set up one off payments, but with Legal & General’s Optional Payment Lifetime Mortgage, having a monthly Direct Debit set-up gives many clients the reassurance they are minimising, or servicing entirely, the interest roll-up of the loan.

When a new client comes to me expressing the desire to make regular payments, I know this product will offer the greatest appeal. Particularly, as with all lifetime mortgages, there are no affordability checks. It’s my favourite product in the equity release marketplace."

Would you advise other advisers to get into the later life lending space?

"Given my own hesitance to get qualified, I understand why some advisers may feel it’s not a space they need to explore. However, speaking from my own experience, equity release products can offer life-changing solutions.

Due to the nature of these products, and the life stage many of our clients will be when they’re exploring lifetime mortgages, you develop a different relationship with your client. Unlike traditional residential mortgages, you’re focussed on finding a solution that will change this person’s retirement. Or even the legacy they will leave to loved ones.

The equity release industry’s reputation has changed substantially over recent years. For mortgage brokers to be able to access and advise on these types of products, helps us to offer our clients the best type of advice."

Find out about our OPLM

We have a wealth of information available on our website. From product summaries and key documentation, to technical case studies to support your client conversations.

A lifetime mortgage is a loan secured against your client’s home.

Our Optional Payment Lifetime Mortgage enables your client to pay some or all of the monthly interest by Direct Debit, from as little as £25 a month.

The product is suitable for clients aged 55 and over, and is usually repaid when the last remaining borrower dies or moves into long-term care.

You client should think carefully before securing debt against their home. There may be cheaper ways to borrow money.

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