Wealth management group St. James’s Place (SJP) has become the latest firm to join the Equity Release Council.

The addition marks a strong two years of growth for the Council, which has seen individual membership increase by 50% to more than 1,500. Meanwhile, the number of firms signed up to the representative trade body has almost doubled during this period to pass 600.

SJP offers personalised advice on financial, investment and tax planning with over £135bn of client funds under management.

Equity release advice has formed part of the SJP proposition for more than 15 years. Its decision to join the Council has been prompted by the pace of change and innovation in the sector.

Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council said: “St James Place’s membership is a vote of confidence in modern equity release and the rigorous standards that underpin it. St James Place’ has long recognised that equity release offers an important option for its clients. Its support underlines that today’s products play a multi-functional role for a broad mix of customers, including those considered high net worth.

“Our growing membership is becoming increasingly diverse as wealth managers, pensions specialists and mortgage advisers find their clients weighing up a host of decisions in later life, from care planning to the transfer of wealth between generations. We welcome St James Place’s long-term commitment to the market and look forward to working with it and other members to maintain high standards of customer outcomes.”

Paul Johnson, head of mortgages at St. James’s Place Wealth Management, added: “We have been providing equity release for over 15 years and, with the market developing at such a pace, we want to ensure we continue to maintain the high standards of advice required for clients to take out equity release plans.

“The Equity Release Council continues to lead the way in developing the highest standards of consumer-focused advice, so our partnership is a natural evolution of our work in this sector. We are looking forward to benefitting from the ongoing support the Council provides to the industry.”