Robert Majkowski of Poland appointed to EPPARG Board


EPPARG appointed Robert Majkowski as a member of its Board on 9 July 2018. "It is a great honour to join the Board of the organization, which has not only vast expert knowledge, but also the real support needed to develop the equity release market in Europe. I believe that joint efforts of our organisation will have a positive impact on the development of a safe and attractive equity release products also in Poland”.

Robert Majkowski is the founder and CEO of Fundusz Hipoteczny DOM S.A., first mover on Polish ERS market, set up in 2008. Fundusz Hipoteczny DOM is a leader with a 70% stake in the Polish home reversion market. The firm has been listed on Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2012. As a pioneer and market leader Fundusz Hipoteczny DOM since its inception actively promotes the highest standards for business conducts by participating in the creation of the Code of Conduct for industry and legal framework in Poland.

The EPPARG Board is now composed of eight Directors, namely Claudio Pacella (Italy), Robert Majkowski (Poland), David Burrowes (UK), Steve Kyle (UK), Pedro Pinto Coelho (Portugal), Paul Turner (UK), Lennart Grabe (Sweden) and Iñigo Hernandez Alesanco (Spain) who are working on a number of workstreams to develop and promote a safe European equity release market.

At their Board Meeting on 9 July, the Board had the opportunity to exchange views with representatives of EY and Fitch Ratings on the state of play on market development. The Board Directors also joined the UK's Equity Release Council for a debate on equity release and social care at the House of Commons, hosted by Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, and attended their summer reception.

EPPARG congratulates David Burrowes on his appointment as new Chair of the Equity Release Council


David Burrowes embarks on the role after serving as the Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate from 2005-2017. The transition follows an agreement made by Waterson and the board in 2014 for him to extend his initial term as the Council’s first chairman for an additional three years.

A strong campaigner for local and national causes, Burrowes has championed consumer protection on issues including legal and medical services, and led campaigns for improved social and end-of-life care.

He also worked on behalf of his constituents on issues relating to pensions and financial services products, working closely with ministers, regulators, banks and the Treasury Select Committee to protect consumer interests via active membership of a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups.

During his time in Parliament, Burrowes served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to three cabinet ministers, across the Cabinet Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and sat on the influential Home Affairs and Public Accounts Select Committees.
Burrowes also brings considerable legal expertise to the role having been shadow justice minister from 2007-2010 and a practising solicitor for 23 years.

He will formally take over from Waterson in December with the months proceeding used to ensure an orderly transition.

The equity release sector has seen a period of sustained growth, with trends suggesting it could surpass £3 billion in annual lending for the first time in 2017.

Part of this growth is due to the transition, overseen by Waterson, from SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) to The Council in 2012. The remit of the trade body was expanded from representing providers to opening up membership to advisers, solicitors and other industry professionals.

The move helped boost the membership of the Council, which now stands at 646 individuals and 213 member firms, up from 20 firms that made up the membership in summer 2012.

The Council has also built an effective working relationship with government and regulators, as well as other areas of the financial services industry, as housing wealth is increasingly viewed on a holistic level within later life planning, while maintaining its strong focus on consumer protection.

David Burrowes, incoming chairman of the Equity Release Council comments: “As a society we face significant challenges in addressing the impact of an ageing population, rising social care needs and inadequate pension funds. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, I firmly believe that equity release can play a major role in helping older people meet those challenges and improve their financial outlook in later life.

“I am excited by the opportunity to work on behalf of the sector and will put the best interests of the consumer at the core of our future work. I hope to use my experience gained in Parliament to further this cause and to build the profile of equity release with a diverse range of stakeholders across industry, government and regulators.

“I also commend Nigel Waterson for his service to The Council over the past six years. The equity release market has been strengthened during this period, buoyed by a growing membership and increased competition. I look forward to working with the board and engaging with those within industry as we build on the significant progress to date.”

Nigel Waterson, outgoing chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “It has been a huge privilege to serve as the first Chairman of The Council and oversee its evolution since 2012.

“The momentum generated within the sector is testament to members’ continued commitment to innovation and the Council’s standards that have established a safe and reliable market for consumers.

“It is also clear that equity release is set to play an increasingly important role in financial planning for retirement as a growing number of older homeowners consider enhancing their retirement by unlocking housing wealth.

“With an excellent reputation to date as a dedicated campaigner, lawmaker and influencer, David has all the right attributes required to lead the Council on the next stage of its journey and I congratulate him warmly on his appointment.”

EPPARG congratulates BNI Europa Bank on launching the first equity release product in Portugal


Equity release in Europe has recently been boosted as BNI Europa Bank launched a new product on the Portuguese market in February 2017 called Cereja, the first brand of financial services for the “greater of experience”, is targeted at people aged 65 years or above. Due to increased life expectancy, health improvement and better literacy, BNI Europa Bank notes that there is now a more favourable environment for the development of new financial products for this age group. BNI Europa Bank is recognised as an innovative market player and has been awarded ‘Best Internet Bank 2016’ by the Global Business Outlook and ‘Best Digital Bank Portugal 2016’ by the Global Banking & Finance Review.

Reverse Credit is a new product in Portugal, inspired by the classic Reverse Mortgage and Equity Release products, which have been very popular in the USA and the United Kingdom. It is a financial product that allows the customer to release the wealth locked in its property, by using it as collateral (mortgage loan). The customer retains the ownership of its property. Portugal is thus joining a growing number of European countries, including Spain, France, Italy, the UK, Sweden and Poland, amongst others, which can demonstrate the social and economic benefits of supporting customers at the peak of their life experience in releasing capital from their homes to meet their daily needs and to greatly improve their quality of life.

The European Pensions and Property Asset Release Group (EPPARG) congratulates BNI Europa Bank upon the launch of Cereja and believes that it will bring greater choice and flexibility to the over 65s in choosing the right financial solution which suits their needs.

Pension reform, not E.U. capital rules, may influence U.K. insurer headquarters


The future profitability of the pensions market will determine whether insurers keep their head offices in Britain rather than tougher new European Union capital rules, a top Bank of England official said Tuesday.

The E.U.'s new Solvency II rules come into force in January, and BoE Deputy Gov. Andrew Bailey said British insurers were on course to meet the deadline.

Legislators on the British parliament's Treasury Select Committee asked Mr. Bailey if the stricter E.U. rules would prompt some insurers to reduce their presence in Britain.

With a referendum on Britain's membership of the E.U. due before the end of 2017, British politicians are highly sensitive to any regulation that causes disadvantages to firms that do not use the euro as a currency.

"The bigger issue in the U.K. is what the retirement savings market is going to be in the future," Mr. Bailey said. "Arguably it looks more like an asset management industry in the future."

The British government has introduced reforms to pensions that allow people to cash in their pension pots rather than being forced on retirement to buy an annuity that pays out until death.

The net cash flow of traditional life insurance products in Britain had also been negative for the past eight years, Mr. Bailey said.

But the BoE — where Mr. Bailey heads the Prudential Regulation Authority, which supervises banks and insurers — is also concerned about how the new E.U. rules will work in practice in the early years.

Mr. Bailey said British insurers would initially be at a disadvantage to their eurozone rivals when firms begin reporting the new solvency ratios from January.

Eurozone insurers will be allowed to use a much higher interest rate yield curve than British insurers to discount future liabilities, creating a comparison that market analysts should not overinterpret, Mr. Bailey said.

Firms are already facing market pressure to show by how much their ratio surpasses the 100% minimum threshold.

"What we are interested in is that the firm has met the minimum standards," Mr. Bailey said.

"Some people say you have got to have a number that is 160 or 170. Well not in our book. In our book, it's they meet the capital requirements. I am not interested in the significance of individual numbers," he said.

The PRA has said that introducing Solvency II was its single biggest task this year.

"It's a more robust risk management system than has been there in the past," Mr. Bailey replied.

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