Retirement lending specialist Simon Little has been appointed as a non-executive director of MorganAsh, a leading provider of tele-health and fintech solutions, to help the company roll out its new vulnerability assessment service for mortgage lenders.

The service helps banks and building societies, which are increasingly moving into the later-life lending market, ensure that they meet regulatory requirements around the treatment of vulnerable customers. Staff who are concerned a customer may be vulnerable can refer them to one of MorganAsh’s qualified nurses, who will contact and assess the individual, so the lender can ensure they deal with them appropriately.

Mr Little’s appointment, which is subject to regulatory approval, will help MorganAsh grow the new service. He has 30 years’ financial services experience and has been working as a specialist in the retirement lending sector for 15 years.

He is managing director of Autumn Life Retirement Solutions, a specialist consultancy working with businesses in the later-life lending market, and a former managing director of Home & Capital Trust Group. Previously, he was a director of the trade body for equity release, Safe Home Income Plans (now the Equity Release Council), and he has held senior roles with GE Life and Canada Life.

Andrew Gething, managing director of MorganAsh, said: “Simon is one of the leading authorities on retirement lending and later-life lending and he has an impressive network of senior contacts in banks and building societies, who value his expertise.

“His extensive knowledge and connections will play an important role in helping us highlight the substantial benefits our vulnerability assessment service offers for mortgage lenders and their borrowers.”

Mr Little said: “All lenders, and particularly banks and building societies, are increasingly lending to older people and it is now perfectly possible for someone to be repaying a mortgage when they’re well into their 90s. In this new landscape, it’s essential that lenders have a well-thought-through and robust policy for dealing with vulnerable customers.

“It’s important too that this policy is proactive rather than reactive, to avoid situations in which, for example, a simple failure to understand why a customer is not replying to communications ends up with a vulnerable elderly person, perhaps with Alzheimer’s, facing the threat of repossession.

“That sort of situation, which can be traumatic for the customer and result in negative headlines for the lender, is exactly what the vulnerability assessment service is designed to avoid. It’s a high-quality service focused on an increasingly important area for mortgage lenders. It’s not a question ofifa borrower may be classified as vulnerable but when,and lenders need to be on the front foot to ensure they are able to manage such borrowers.”

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is taking an increasing interest in the fair treatment of vulnerable customers – defining them as those who, due to their personal circumstances, are “especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care”. In July, the FCA announced it will consult early in 2019 “on guidance for firms on the identification and treatment of vulnerable consumers”.

The UK has an ageing population and the FCA estimates that 60% of those aged over 65 are potentially vulnerable.

Under the MorganAsh vulnerability assessment service, once the customer has been assessed, a measurement is made using the MorganAsh vulnerability score, which provides an objective, recordable output that can be retained for audit and compliance purposes.

After assessing whether the individual’s condition is temporary or permanent, MorganAsh will make recommendations on appropriate next steps for the lender.

Benefits of the vulnerability assessment service:

  • Improved outcomes for vulnerable customers.
  • Helps the lender meet FCA requirements on treating customers fairly and vulnerability.
  • Helps to avoid repossessions involving elderly borrowers and accompanying negative publicity.
  • Opportunity to differentiate the lender’s service through a compassionate vulnerable-customer strategy.

The service also includes options for a longevity prediction for the customer or, through the MorganAsh Care Navigator service, assistance with finding a suitable care home or sourcing a domiciliary care package. 

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Our clients say:

The MorganAsh service is an essential component in our service to help our customers secure the highest possible retirement income available.

Guy Simmonds, head of product protection and investments, Nationwide