In conjunction with several other bodies, the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA) has crafted a training course to ensure its members are thoroughly equipped to handle the specialised credit area of reverse mortgages and equity release products.
FBAA managing director Peter White AM explained that the education is key to the industry’s integrity in this area – an aim which has taken on increased importance as the recently revamped Banking Code of practice drilled down on prioritisng the protection of vulnerable borrowers, such as the elderly.
“Last year, financial abuse – and more so elder abuse in financial transactions – became very evident as being very problematic, with family members pressuring parents to take out loans for them; it needed to be addressed, which the industry did,” White said.
“This resulted in amendments to the ABA’s code of conduct, plus increased education in the broking sector.”
Before the just-launched Seniors Equity Release/Reverse Mortgage Course, now being offered through the AAMC training group, the FBAA believes the standard of various training and accreditation courses for loan writers operating in the space had been inconsistent; upon informing ASIC of this conclusion, the regulator requested the association generate a training plan and course structure recommendation to rectify the issue.
To this end, the FBAA formed an Equity Release Industry Advisory committee, chaired by director Stephen Rasmussen and comprised of representatives from all major reverse mortgage and aged care lenders, equity release provider Homesafe, specialist reverse mortgage brokers, and AAMC.
“With the impending growth in consumer demand, as well as the recent entry of new lenders to this sector, it is timely that an appropriately robust and comprehensive training course be available,” Rasmussen said.
“Further, we have designed it with not only brokers in mind. It is a course that is equally appropriate and valuable for all relevant staff of reverse mortgage lenders to undertake.”
The course will be mandatory for all FBAA members involved with products in the space, but the association has stressed it is open to non-members as well, encouraging all brokers to participate. Those who do will receive 3 CPD points.
According to White, the training is the “most current and only ‘state of the art’ course that meets and exceeds the compliance obligations in this sector in today’s standards.”
As Homesafe Solutions chief operating officer Dianne Shepherd sees it, the course is sure to “benefit consumers and ensure the sustainability of the industry as a whole.”
“Equity release products have, and will continue to be, an important option for funding the retirement needs of older Australians,” she said.