Equity Release Supermarket launch UK Industry-first digital solution for consumers
The UK’s No.1, independent equity release advisory service, Equity Release Supermarket (ERS), today announced the launch of its NEW smartER digital platform, bringing to market the only intelligent search engine tool within the sector.
Until now, consumers have been unable to research their later life lending options and find a shortlist of plans based upon their personal circumstances. Neither have they been able to understand exactly how much they could borrow across the whole of the market in real time or indeed have the ability to filter their choices, to further enhance their research.
However, today technology pioneers, Equity Release Supermarket, launch their smartER platform to solve this very problem.
Mark Gregory, Founder & CEO at Equity Release Supermarket commented: “Our customers are at the centre of all we do. We have always made it our mission to be as open and transparent as possible, whilst also providing the digital tools they need to understand how equity release and later life lending could give them the financial freedom they deserve.
“We also strive to empower our customers so that when they do speak with one of our advisers, they have the confidence they need and the reassurance that equity release is the right solution for them.
“The current equity release landscape simply doesn’t cater for consumers who are hungry for knowledge and want to research their options in their own time. It is as if the equity release industry believes that consumers shouldn’t be given the opportunity to develop their own understanding, which we know from our research is a huge frustration and a reason why some are sceptical about equity release.
“At Equity Release Supermarket, we already offer the most comprehensive, free to use range of calculators on the market as well as allowing consumers to search current plans from across the whole of the market, but until smartER there wasn’t a solution that brought both of these tools together and enhanced the experience through personalisation.
“We wanted to resolve this and have spent the last three years developing the technology to build a digital platform that gives consumers not only more control, but more in-depth information, a better understanding of the plans out there and greater insight to match their requirements.”
Known as innovators in their field, Equity Release Supermarket have now revolutionised the way consumers can search for equity release plans.
Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council, commented on smartER: “The pandemic has accelerated the role of technology in the equity release sector and it is encouraging to see firms investing in innovations to support the essential step of seeking regulated financial advice that is personalised to people’s circumstances.
“Vibrant competition means today’s market offers older homeowners an unprecedented choice of products that provide secure, flexible finance. Helping consumers to understand the modern market can open more eyes to the potential benefits of accessing property wealth in later life.”
The first and only later life lending search engine – smartER – works by presenting a shortlist of equity release plans following completion of a short user questionnaire.
Plans are subsequently narrowed down and tailored to the consumer’s specific personal circumstances, available in real-time, providing rates, as well as additional features and benefits of the plans. Perhaps most importantly, the platform also identifies exactly how much could be borrowed, which can be subsequently stored if the user chooses to create an account, enabling them to revisit the results and amend if required at their leisure.
“The launch of this solution is a natural evolution of our online calculators and compare deals functionality that are already available across our websites and have proved immensely popular,” Mark explained “Now with this added enhancement and digital solution, it is a far more efficient way of working. We’ve really simplified the whole research process for customers through the use of our smart technology.”
By working closely with new fintech company – Equitec, and using the latest search engine technology, Equity Release Supermarket has helped develop a sophisticated mortgage sourcing platform – equivalent to the mortgage industries popular online digital sourcing solutions.
Equitec’s aim is to help to knit the later life market together with improved digital solutions by working with lenders and brokers. It’s first partnership, with Equity Release Supermarket, shows how consumers can benefit from this technology by using the online real-time results generated via smartER to educate consumers, research and find products that are up to date and accurate at all times.
Mark added: “The idea for smartER was born out of a need to align our industry with the nation’s evolving desire to utilise digital technology, which we’ve seen accelerate over the past 12 months. Our clients are over 50 and there’s a misconception that they don’t use digital functionality, but in fact the opposite is true, they are increasingly comfortable with the digital world and growing in confidence in managing their finances online.
“A significant number of customers were asking, as part of their research, how they could better understand the plans that could meet their needs – without first speaking to an adviser. They wanted to start that conversation with confidence and empowerment.”
smartER now enables those with an understanding of equity release to take control and gain a thorough insight into how it could help them achieve their financial goals.
Mark said: “smartER is effectively a digital equity release sourcing tool that has been specifically designed for consumers. It’s important to stress that smartER isn’t designed to replace the advice process, but rather to enhance it for both consumers and advisers alike. The information the customer provides to generate their smartER results is shared with their adviser so that when their conversation starts, the adviser already has a detailed understanding of the consumer and what they are looking to achieve financially through equity release.
“This has taken years of dedication and hard work to come to fruition, and I am really proud of the business and our team for making smartER happen. I’m excited to see how consumers will embrace this new technology and it is the first part of our digital rollout programme for 2021. The next logical extension of smartER is to develop it as the leading- edge sourcing system for professional advisers and beyond this we will be bringing to market technology that further supports our advisers and continues to drive the growth of The Equity Release Supermarket Group.”