Equity Release Council strengthens board

Simon Chalk, technical manager at Age Partnership, will serve as adviser representative from 24 April while Nikki Smith, head of compliance monitoring and development at Just Retirement Limited, will represent providers.

Claire Barker of Equilaw and ERSA has been reappointed as solicitor representative and Mel Kettle of Gateway Surveyors will continue to serve as surveyor representative.

The Council’s Standards Board brings industry professionals together with independent experts to oversee and update the standards and consumer safeguards which have formed the bedrock of the equity release sector since 1991.

Both new appointments add to the weight of knowledge and expertise on the board, whose members draw on broad experience of senior roles across financial services, regulation, public policy and consumer affairs.

Smith has just celebrated ten years at Just Retirement having previously worked in compliance at GE Life and Britannic Retirement Solutions.

Chalk has over 25 years of experience in financial services and has worked as a dedicated equity release planner and adviser for over a decade.

They will report to Standards Board chairman, Chris Pond, who was previously head of consumer affairs and director of financial capacity at the Financial Services Authority.

Two independent members, Liz Barclay and Jim Dredge also sit on the Standards Board alongside The Council’s chairman, Nigel Waterson, and chief operating officer, Donna Bathgate.

Barclay is a BBC business broadcast journalist who presented Radio 4’s consumer programme ‘You and Yours’.

She also sits on the Financial Services Consumer Panel and the board of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme where she serves as a non-executive director, as well as chairing Camden Citizens Advice Bureau.

Dredge has over 30 years of experience in the financial services sector primarily gained with Lloyds TSB and the Financial Services Authority and has played a pivotal role in raising the profile of financial education.

Pond, chairman of the Equity Release Council Standards Board, said: “These new appointments are another important milestone in the development of the Standards Board as our growing industry continues to welcome new customers and businesses.

“Together we have an important responsibility to ensure not only that our standards framework represents The Council’s increasingly broad and diverse membership, but most importantly that it continues to support the growing number of equity release customers and their need for safe products and expert advice.

“I am looking forward to fresh input and guidance from board members on all matters impacting equity release. Their combined knowledge and insight will be invaluable to protect and promote consumer interests.”