How to build your professional Later Life skills and knowledge

Why it’s more important than ever for Equity Release advisers to review their qualifications and ask themselves how much they really know about the care system

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By Simon Chalk - SOLLA Advisory Board Member and MD of Laterlivingnow!

Your basic qualifications

Anyone who has advised on equity release for a few years, will tell you that passing the very basic level 3 qualification through either of the two awarding bodies, is really only the beginning on a long road of continuous learning.

In particular, mortgage brokers who have stepped over the threshold into a whole new world of later-life advising, may well find it comes as a bit of a shock to the system, as their new cohort of retirement-aged clientele will have very different expectations and requirements than their working-age counterparts.

Expanding your knowledge is essential

The needs of clients who may range from 55 to over 100 years of age, will vary widely, and the challenges their situations present to an adviser new to the later life market can be daunting.

Suddenly having to answer questions around where the family home fits in with IHT and estate planning, explaining the rules around treatment of the home in paying for care, means new knowledge and skills need to be acquired.

Equity release and the care system

It is simply not possible to talk about equity release, without firstly understanding at least the basics of the care system in the UK. An adviser will suddenly find that they need a pretty reasonable level of knowledge around matters like deliberate deprivation of assets, deferred payment agreements, immediate needs annuities, longevity and cognition. That’s said, it is very important to understand the difference between regulated and non-regulated advice in the care space, when you can offer advice and when you need to refer to other specialists.

Relevant qualifications

If you accept this fact, then a good starting point is to gain the necessary knowledge by studying for and passing a relevant qualification such as the CII’s Level 3 Award in Long Term Care Insurance (often referred to simply as CF8) or the LiBF’s own Certificate in Long Term Care and Later Life Planning (CertLTCP); although this is part of a higher Level 4 standard so it’s not right for everybody.

Handling cases involving borrowers (no longer able to make their own decisions) under Power of Attorney or a Court of Protection Deputyship Order is a whole different ball game and means a steep learning curve lies ahead, but help is very much at hand.

So, where can the aspiring later life adviser turn for that help and support?

To begin with, you need look no further than The Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) which offers the Later Life Lending Advice Standard (LLLAS); the advanced level for any adviser looking to sharpen their skills and to demonstrate their professional commitment to the highest possible standard of advice. Clients and their families, are actively seeking out such advisers and gaining this ‘Standard’ that entitles you to be listed on a searchable website makes for sound commercial sense when so many advisers have entered the market in recent years. Being able to differentiate yourself from the herd has never been more critical.

Mortgage Club Academies

Away from professional bodies, support is also forthcoming from mortgage clubs, keen to extend their proposition further. Two that have impressed me greatly, are Air Sourcing and Advise Wise. Both of these clubs specialise in later life product sourcing and regularly offer webinars and training opportunities through their association with My Care Consultant and Care Box amongst others.

Applying your training to help your clients and your business

To my mind, attaining an appropriate care advice qualification together with the SOLLA Later Life Lending Advice Standard is the very least that an adviser should aim for. Unlike so many other qualifications and training, the new knowledge and skills gained will very much be put to good use from day one. Your clients will be more soundly advised and protected, as will your business longevity and reputation.

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