Huge Disclaimer: The following transcript was generated by a machine. It’s not perfect. It’s definately best to listen to the audio version!
Alex Curtis 0:23
Hello, and welcome back to the equity release podcast. And I’m joined once again by Mr. Stuart Powell. How are you doing?
Stuart Powell 0:30
Good morning, mate. Yeah, really good. Thank you very strange times. But yeah, working hard and speaking to lots of people, lots of clients. So yeah, good. Thank you.
Alex Curtis 0:39
Excellent. So it’s just for everyone’s, so everyone knows it. today. We are recording on Friday, the third of April. And the reason Actually, I got in touch was on the back of your LinkedIn post. Because this week while you’ve been sort of campaigning for lenders to do kind of digital kind of valuations as There’s never been a activity’s deal gone through without someone physically valuing the property. Is that right?
Stuart Powell 1:07
Yeah, absolutely. It’s absolutely Equity Release has got lots of checks and balances, and quite rightly because it it can be the most vulnerable clients in society that consider equity release. So, to face to face, things have to happen with every app to restrict. One being the client has to meet, actually release qualified solicitor to give advice and actually do a certificate for the client on all aspects of activities to ensure that the client was happy with what they’re doing, and is the right type of client for actually release. They’re not to give equity release advice, but it’s a real legal check that we have. And great news is that the city testers can now do all of that they’ve been given dispensation by the equity release council by their law bodies to actually do everything for the client over the phone over video phone, other than wet signature. So that was great news and a real step forward for activities transactions being able to take place but then we still had the major block of every equity release. Mortgage needs a surveyor to go to the client’s property. The great news is that I know the equity release council all equity release lenders and their funders have been in talks about how they could circumnavigate this, but still have the right checks and balances in place for the clients for the brokers for them as as lenders and the funders as well. And the first one to break on this has been more to life who this winner of one of their funders agree that they would accept desktop valuations. And so that means more to life have products that we as brokers could discuss with clients. And actually, we can now go ahead with the whole equity release process from start to finish and go ahead and get the the money the clients request, actually to them. So yeah, huge progress. And yeah, we’ve turned the corner this week.
Alex Curtis 3:42
Absolutely. I think it’s a great thing as well. One thing always kind of I always kind of thought, from my perspective, that in terms of going back to the advice stage, I spoke to a lot of brokers and I think some of the networks or will will insist that the advice has got to be done first. face as well. But now everyone’s kind of getting used to zoom. It kind of feels to me that being able to record a zoom call, feels like there’s evidence of advice there that it actually feels safer in a way than doing face to face because he can’t unless you’re recording that conversation. There’s no reference. So it feels to me that the kind of this remote world feels like there’s more actual evidence being recorded off of everything as well, which seems hopefully for the better go for a
Stuart Powell 4:32
really strong point. And obviously, every part of the advice we give has to be right for the client has to be fully compliant. But in these really difficult times, is there any flexibility? Well, yeah, there is flexibility. But the point you make is a really valid one. The flexibility I think to to some extent has improved the process. So we are speaking to clients on the phone more, we are doing more recorded video calls, we are exchanging more emails. And actually, we’re finding that the process of advice is taking longer. But that enables the client to take more consideration time to ask better, more in depth questions, speak to their family about it more, and then come back to us and then proceed. Whereas My view is when you meet a client once or maybe twice, you walked out their family there, you have an hour or two hour interview, you may see them twice. That’s a lot of information for any clients to take on board. And people have busy lives. So very often the children can’t attend the interview, or be part of the interview. But now we’re doing three way zoom calls, and the children are there and asking the questions. So yeah, this process, actually out of adversity, we may have come up with a better process.
Alex Curtis 5:59
Yeah, sounds good. Definitely, I think that’s great that literally because if my If my mom was doing it, I definitely want to be involved. But again, she doesn’t live too far away. But actually taking some time out being able to do that would be really awkward. Whereas jumping on a zoom call, and she’s getting used to it now as well, because she will have, you know, our daughter will have zoom calls with the grandparents like every day at the minute so I think everyone’s getting used to the technology as well.
Stuart Powell 6:23
Absolutely. My my kids who are eight and 11 every night, read to their grandparents, my wife’s parents because they’re on lockdown and really bored at home. So, yeah, moments like that, where you just come. You can’t get better than that. And yeah, why not do that for us? Why not read storybooks to them at eight o’clock at night, but why not to use that for interviews and recordings and just make our process and our industry more friendly, more client focused, not compliant. driven, client driven. So yeah, we’re coming out the other side of the advice process with with I think, a much better process.
Alex Curtis 7:11
Absolutely. And what kind of inquiries you’re getting at the minute? Obviously it’s there’s some, I’m not sure if it was yourself or someone else mentioned there was a business owner looking at active release. And also, I presume, you know, a lot of people are, although the government have given lots of support to businesses, and there’s like mortgage holidays and things like that, but I presume people are, are struggling financially or depending on how long this goes on will do. Are you getting any sort of inquiries where people are trying to get access to to cash for issues that are going on at the minute in terms of like, debt or just struggling with money in it?
Stuart Powell 7:49
Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head there. We we’ve noticed a massive increase in inquiries beforehand. You have people who have Thought about activities for quite a while and I’ve seen your marketing senior advert seen your videos and thought, actually this this is the person I want to speak to in more depth about it. Whereas now we’re getting a lot more initial inquiries that are, yeah, I’m concerned about my personal finances. And I’m concerned about my children. They’re self employed, they fall through the cracks of the government schemes, how could I use my property wealth to help them what is available and what will that cost me? So I think two things will happen with those clients. If this goes on for as long as it’s predicted to and their families are struggling, I think they will go ahead. Secondly, I think that a lot of those clients are using it as a bit of a backstop and to really relieve the pressure on their families. So as an example, I had a client who has a son with a business that’s struggling and we We’ve looked into how much it would cost them to release 50,000 pounds from that property. And the parent has gone to their son and said, Look, this is available, I can get this for you, and have it as a backstop. But now I’ve got the son talking to a bridging and second charge company about whether they are better options for the client. So I think we’re all being more creative. And the industry is working together to find solutions for people who can’t necessarily get the government support.
Alex Curtis 9:38
Yeah, I mean, we’ve got a business finance client of ours, and there are lots of people talking to him saying that they’re still waiting to hear on the interruption loans, and I don’t think I read an article only like 1000 loans have been approved or something like that, and then the interest rates are really high. So all that’s getting kind of delayed. Had a paper, you know, with third of April, there’s just been a payroll gone through. And there’s a lot of people who are there. I’ve got friends who have got clients that have just stopped working with them, and they can’t afford to pay their old invoices. So I think people have struggled with payroll just gone. And there’ll be another one, you know, in four weeks time. And things are moving very slowly. So I think this, people are looking at different options, and as long as it’s right for them, and I think it’s great. Going back to the you can record those zoom calls, and you can give these options and there’s the bridging and other things as well.
Stuart Powell 10:35
Yeah, I think the key thing here is and you have touched on it there is if it’s right, and equity release is a very specific group of products that is only right for a percentage of the population. And I would advocate that most of these people who are contacting us extra racism right for them. Equity release is a long term product for long term considerations. It isn’t a short term fix for cash flow problems in a business in most circumstances, and I think we’ve all got to remember this. Yeah, it’s very, very good to get excited about increased leads, increased calls, but most of the people I’m speaking to from that point of view, now it isn’t right for so so yeah, we must all be really careful that we’re focusing on that. But we have got people calling us and saying my son’s there’s my son’s Oh, tell me your situation. All right. Well, I’ve got an interest-only mortgage with x bank, and we’re on four and a half per cent standard variable rate. And yeah, oh, how are you finding that? Well, we struggle with the payments or etc, etc. But that opens up a different conversation, your mortgage son to an end in a year. Well, what are you going to do after a year? Well, I think we’re gonna have to celebrate Property Do you want say property? Well, no, we’ve been here for 20 years. So so you know, it’s those sorts of conversations. And you noticed, like, the more conversations you can have with people, the more you do find out about what their their real needs are, and then not necessarily their perceived needs that they thought they had. So, so yeah, we’re having lots of really interesting conversations and sometimes helping people not in the way they expected.
Alex Curtis 12:25
Yeah, no, absolutely. I was gonna say, well, things are, you know, real, people’s mortgage deals are still expiring. Or they’re still those sort of things are still going on that that would have happened anyway. So and, and we had someone on the podcast so we were talking about the interest only and he said there’s about a million active interest only mortgages in the UK and speaking to a lot of people that don’t realise they’re on an interest only mortgage as well, which was, which was shocking for me, that they got to the got to the end and didn’t realise that they weren’t actually paying off their mortgage. And that was that was a bit frightening to hear. So is there any other kind of I don’t want to say advice or information that we can give to people who are over 55 who are thinking about actually release is it? I suppose, so many options is just just to have a conversation with an advisor. When
Stuart Powell 13:21
one of the things that you and I were discussing earlier and have done over the past weeks is, you know, there’s there’s a lot of over 50 fives, who are exactly the same as the rest of us and a huge swathe of population and that is there. They’re at home, they’re bored. They’re going online, they’re trying to save money, they’re thinking about protecting and looking after their family. And all of these things are actually quite natural things to be doing in the Straits Times. But you have a lot of equity release brokers out There are the same. They aren’t going into the offices. They’re not doing a lot of face to face appointments they used to do they have time on their hands. Use the head time, use your time or their time constructively just pick up the phone or drop them an email and say, Look, this is my situation. Give me some free advice. We will send you fact sheets, we’ll send you videos, we’ll send you some information so that you’re going from a real education or educated point of view, so that you’re getting the right help and advice and we really don’t care if you don’t go ahead. We really hit tone. We want you to know what your options are. Because from our point of view, if we help you now, you’ll tell your friends, your friends actually may be the one to want activities, not you. If you don’t need that to be released. Now, you might need it in a year. You might need it in five years. Who are you Go to your go to the ones that helped you in the difficult time. So all activities advisors out there that I speak to feel exactly the same. So, yeah, don’t be scared to pick up the phone or email us and and we’ll gladly help and give some advice.
Alex Curtis 15:17
Absolutely, I would echo that pretty much everybody mostly to get an absolute buzz on how they have helped someone achieve something. Whether it’s whether it’s remortgaging and getting them a better rate, saving them thousands pounds or cutting years of their mortgage or stopping them from losing their property. You guys get an absolute buzz out of that.
Stuart Powell 15:43
One where the client says I do not know what to do, I don’t know where to turn. I don’t know what is available on and they are in a horrible position and I hate I hate anyone to get in that position. So don’t get advice early on, but the ones where you saw Issues like that. And any broker can tell you many cases because they’re the ones that stick in your mind. And you know the the one that Wendy cases my case that I tell people about where my lady in Plymouth who’s become a really good friend came to me and had no money wasn’t eating well was wearing one pound 99 Oxfam dresses, didn’t know she had an alternative. And I went to see her just after Christmas and she’s mental health is is completely different. She’s paid off a debt. She goes to m&s most used to when she could get out to get her food, etc. So you know that that resonates with people. So, yeah, don’t struggle in silence. speak to someone before it gets to a stage where you’re worried about it.
Alex Curtis 16:52
Fantastic. Excellent. Thank you, Stuart, so much for all again, I’m sure we’re going to have you back again. When I when I can twist your arm again, thanks again what we’ll do is we’ll drop your like we did on the last episode, drop your email address in the show notes. If anyone wants to speak to Stuart or or Google equity or lease advisor in your area, there are plenty of them around but we’ll we’ll make sure we got your contact details if you specifically want to speak to Stuart, and we will see you next time. Thanks very much.
Stuart Powell 17:24
Thank you, Alex. Pleasure as ever.