The financial burden placed on older homeowners appears to be growing

The end of one year heralds new beginnings for the next, and given the challenges many later life advisers have faced during 2023, I suspect there will be a desire to move forward and plan for what I believe will be a much more positive 12 months.

Let’s not, however, shy away from the market we have been all confronting through this year, because what it certainly does is build within us a resilience and, I would hope, a strength and desire to improve activity and transaction levels, to improve existing and new client engagement, and to kick 2024 off with something of a bang.

Speaking to a large number of later life advisers, as I do regularly, it is business levels and specifically, lead generation, which is exercising their minds right now.

It is always tough to look at a year which may have shown a downward trend particularly when compared to more buoyant years just prior to that, but my view is we do not have to be defined by this short-term period, and by putting in the hard work now, it’s possible to view a much more positive outlook going forward.

There has been a lot of chatter in recent days about a potential stamp duty holiday/saving for older homeowners who might want to downsize, to potentially free up larger family homes for younger families to buy.

However, even if this is an option – and I sense it might be overly complicated to introduce – you are still left with a situation where there needs to be property for older homeowners to actually want to move into, in the locations they want to live in.

That remains a significant issue, particularly in terms of house building and how developers even approach building homes for older people. In short, they tend not to.

That square is not likely to be circled anytime soon, and then you have to add in a whole raft of other societal and economic fundamentals that older people are facing – poor pension provision, rising cost of living, the need to support family members, social care funding, healthcare costs, I could go on.

Essentially, the financial burden placed on older homeowners, in fact all individuals, appears to be growing and growing, and the big question is how might people meet those responsibilities and how do they pay for them?

Increasingly, one of the only available options is to utilise their biggest asset, their home, and while we might have had something of a fly in the ointment this year with higher interest rates, higher inflation, etcetera, impacting on affordability and LTV availability, I have a strong sense that we will be returning to a growing demand, and therefore, marketplace relatively soon.

For advisers and firms the question is how to identify these customers – as we know, they’re unlikely to knock on the office door and ask for a later life lending product – and it’s the ways and means by which you target your sales and service message to the people who will come to need this advice, but perhaps don’t quite know it yet and certainly don’t know where to source it from.

To that end, I would direct advisers to the Air Insights Hub on our website, and specifically the client lead generation section which contains a raft of information and support covering training, help and guidance to get better results in this area, but also specific client campaigns to be utilised.

These are ready-to-go campaigns, straight out of the box you might say, to run either via your social media channels or through email or direct mail to potential and existing customers. They cover off why equity release is a good solution, the evolution of equity release, the four ‘R’s’ of equity release, and with each one they take you through what you need to do with full instructions and all the assets you require to make them a success.

Alongside this, we have a training and support section which has tips, guides and videos which focus on understanding your clients, the market and marketing for lead generation.

Again, the idea is to support what you already know and do, with some proven methods which have been successful, from how best to utilise LinkedIn – particularly useful in developing introducer relationships – through to social media and email marketing tips, how to spot a later life client, and much more.

These should hopefully educate, stimulate and provide you with inspiration on how you can go about building that business, and – dare I say it – starting to make the most of an increase in demand and business enquiries. Because that’s exactly what we are starting to see, as rates come down, new product options and choices emerge, and lenders/providers start ramping up activity for the new year.

2023 has been tough but there are opportunities to be grasped and much to look forward to in the year ahead. We are here to help you with all this, and much more.

Stuart Wilson is chairman of Air Club