Equity Release More Popular Among Over-45s, But Gender Gaps Persist

A new trend is emerging among the UK’s over-45 population – a growing acceptance of equity release. However, this shift reveals notable gender differences in attitudes towards this financial tool, according to recent research by Standard Life Home Finance.

Growing Comfort with Equity Release

The study by Standard Life Home Finance highlights a significant change in perception among UK adults over 45. A striking 58% of men now express comfort with the idea of equity release, a stark contrast to 43% of women who feel similarly confident. This gender gap underscores differing levels of assurance and understanding about accessing housing equity in retirement.

Declining Consumer Concerns

Overall, there’s a downward trend in apprehension about equity release. In 2023, only 32% of respondents voiced no concerns about tapping into their housing equity, a considerable leap from just 7% in 2022. Despite this overall positive shift, women remain more cautious than men. A mere 22% of women reported feeling worry-free about the process, compared to 35% of men. Furthermore, when faced with the need for additional financial support, 21% of women felt anxious, in contrast to just 7% of men.

Gender-Specific Worries

The research uncovers some specific fears that are more pronounced among women. For instance, 37% of women are concerned about losing their homes through equity release, a worry shared by only 20% of men. Additionally, 12% of women feel apprehensive about being judged for needing equity release, compared to a mere 3% of men.

Advisers’ Role in Building Confidence

Kay Westgarth, director of sales at Standard Life Home Finance, emphasises the importance of this shift in consumer attitude. As more individuals consider equity release a viable option to supplement retirement income, especially amid the cost-of-living crisis, confidence in this sector is crucial. Westgarth notes that the decrease in overall concerns is largely attributable to advisers’ efforts in educating and supporting customers.

However, she points out the clear gender disparities in perceptions of equity release. Advisers have a crucial role in addressing these differences, offering tailored advice to instill confidence in each customer, regardless of gender.

In summary, while the overall sentiment towards equity release among the UK’s over-45 population is becoming more positive, there’s a critical need to bridge the gender confidence gap. Financial advisers play a key role in this process, ensuring that both men and women feel equally informed and reassured about their financial choices in retirement.