Over 45s less concerned about equity release but ‘women more cautious’

New research from equity release lender Standard Life Home Finance has revealed that while the over 45s are less concerned about equity release in general, there are significant gender differences around perceptions of equity release in the UK.

The second edition of its Lightbulb Moments report found that men in the UK (58%) are more comfortable than women (43%) about taking out equity release. Therefore, advisers should be prepared to understand the unique differences in perceptions between men and women and have tailored tools and information available to better support each individual client.

Compared to last year, consumer concerns were lower this year, with 32% of respondents having no concern about accessing their housing equity in 2023 in contrast to 7% reporting the same in 2022. However, a lower proportion of women (22%) compared to men (35%) reported having no concerns about the process. Similarly, only 7% of men compared to 21% of women felt worried when they realised they needed additional financial support to meet their needs.

Concerns around releasing equity in their home also have gender differences; 37% of women reported concern about losing their home, a worry that only 20% of men felt. Additionally, women were more likely to worry about inheritance (30% vs. 18%) and interest building up (27% vs. 23%).

A higher proportion of women (30%) spoke to family and friends to understand their views on releasing equity from their home in comparison to men (20%). Before speaking with an adviser, a considerable amount of women (30%) were concerned that equity release could impact or stop them from leaving an inheritance, almost double that of men (18%). Anticipating potential concerns is a key part of an adviser’s role, as is providing guidance to ensure their customers make informed decisions.

The research shows that it is not only the type of advice that matters, but also how it is provided. Concerns about being judged for needing equity release weigh heavier on women; 12% of women and 3% of men worry about being judged. When dispelling concerns about equity release, advisers should be prepared to help customers navigate these feelings and ensure they are listening to customer needs without judgement, and by remaining focused on finding a solution that works for them. Kay Westgarth, Director of Sales at Standard Life Home Finance, said:

“An increasing number of people are considering equity release as a viable way to augment their retirement income and navigate the cost-of-living crisis. It is great to see that consumer confidence in the sector is growing, and overall concerns this year are lower than last year. This is largely due to the great work of advisers in informing and supporting customers on their options.”

However, this research shows the interesting differences in the way equity release is perceived among men and women. Advisers should identify any worries and tailor their advice to instill confidence in each individual customer. In the case of interest building up and inheritance, both of which are greater concerns to women, advisers can highlight existing product features and dispel existing concerns by encouraging an open dialogue.”

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