Three-quarters (75%) of advisers feel it is important for family members to be involved in the equity release (ER) process, given the impact of COVID-19, according to research by more2life.

Just one in five (20%) of advisers felt family members only needed to be involved in the process depending on the complexity of the case, while 4% did not believe it was important to involve family at all.

When asked why some clients would opt not to include their families in the decision-making process, 29% of advisers reported that not wanting to worry their families was a key consideration for clients, down from 34% in 2020.

For vulnerable clients, this decreased to only 7%, which more2life said demonstrated the effect of the advice sector’s efforts in raising awareness about the benefits of support for vulnerable clients.

The majority (83%) of advisers said that one of the barriers to people involving family was the view that there was no need to involve them in day-to-day financial decisions.

Almost one in five advisers (18%) reported that clients who did not wish to involve their families were concerned that their loved ones might try to talk them out of their decision, while 38% reported clients being too proud to tell their families that they were struggling financially.

When ascertaining if a client is potentially vulnerable, 66% of advisers said they ensure that they are answering questions directly, without coaching from family or friends, and 41% observe how any family or friends present react or interact in the meeting.

Dave Harris, chief executive at more2life, said: “With vulnerability a focus of the FCA, the later life lending industry has stepped up and it is good to see that significant strides have been made in recent years to identify, support and manage vulnerability as part of the advice process.

“Where possible, families can play a huge role in supporting people as they make choices around housing equity and the role it can play in funding later life.

“However for some, being open about their finances is more challenging as it would break a habit of a lifetime or they are concerned that their families will worry that they are struggling financially.

“Advisers and companies within this arena need to continue to advocate for family involvement and ensure that clients give sufficient consideration to talking to their loved ones about important financial decisions.

“Collaboration to enable the best practices for identifying and managing vulnerability to become commonplace is vital and is something that as an industry we must all get behind.”