Standard Life Home Finance Reveals the Equity Release Gender Divide

  • Women more likely to view their home as their security than men
  • Men release more as they focus on mortgage repayment and gifting while women look at home renovations and income
  • Women are less likely to have spoken to a financial adviser than men, but are more likely to feel releived when receiving the proceeds of the equity release
15 December 2022: With one in four (26%) equity release customers being single women,  UK equity release lender Standard Life Home Finance has sought to better understand the 'gender divide' using data from over 500 people who have either taken out equity release or considered equity release.

The research found that women who may have prioritised repaying their mortgage over their working life rather than building up pension assets are more likely to look to equity release to maintain their homes or provide this income in older age. It also highlighted that women are less likely to have had interactions with financial advisers, (30% vs 24%), but that they are almost twice as likely as men to feel relieved when they received the proceeds of equity release (60% vs. 33%).

Boosting income and home renovations drive female borrowers:

While both genders had the same spending priorities, the subtle differences in priorities impacted the funds that they needed to release, with women (£101,505) releasing less than men (£122,063).

Women are more likely to spend the proceeds of equity release on home renovations (62%), repaying other debts (21%), building a rainy-day fund (18%) and extra monthly income (13%) than men.   Repayment of mortgages (21% vs. 26%) and supporting family (20% vs. 26%) are not as popular.
What did you spend the proceeds of ER on? Men Women
Home renovations 53% 62%
Repay mortgage 26% 21%
Providing financial support for family or friends 26% 20%
Repay other debts 20% 21%
Holiday 20% 18%
Build a rainy day fund 17% 18%
Extra monthly income 12% 13%

While both genders agreed they wanted more from life as they got older, women were more likely to discover they had not saved enough (14% vs. 10%) while men were more likely to already be to be aware their pension and savings are not enough (19% vs 14%).

Women three times as likely to find a life event derailed retirement plans:

Three times (13%) as many women than men (4%) say a life event, such as divorce/redundancy or illness, derailed their plans so they had to consider other options.  In this environment, women are more likely to say they are frustrated (17% vs. 10%) and annoyed (12% vs. 8%) when they realise they need more additional money than their male counterparts.

The driving force behind accessing housing equity also impacted what other options people considered. Men, who were more likely to be repaying a large lump sum like a mortgage, considered going back to work (14%) or using a lump sum from their pension (10%).  In contrast women, who were more focused on income needs, considered using savings (22%) or a personal loan (20%).

The need to leave an inheritance was less pressing for women (39%) than men (46%). Instead, they viewed their home as their security (41%) and were more likely to worry they were accessing it to soon (22%) or that it may be an expensive and complex process (29%).  This attachment also meant women were more likely to discount downsizing (67% vs. 62%), selling their home to live in rented accommodation (53% vs. 46%) and moving in with family (47% vs. 44%).

Women less likely to have spoken to a financial adviser before but hopeful:

Women are typically less likely to have spoken to a financial adviser (30% vs 24%) but are hopeful (52% vs. 44%) that advice can help them sort out their circumstances.  They are, however, more likely to worry that their adviser will judge them for some of their financial decisions (17% vs 13%).
Thoughts ahead of equity release advice appointment Men Women
Looking forward to speaking to someone about what I wanted to do 55% 54%
Hopeful that it would help me to sort out my circumstances 44% 52%
Never spoken to an IFA before so was unsure what it involved 24% 30%
I had no real concerns or thoughts before I spoke to the adviser 28% 22%
Worried that they would judge me for some of my financial decisions 13% 17%

Women are also more likely to feel relieved (60% vs 33%), happy (37% vs. 34%) or excited (30% vs. 23%) than men when they receive the proceeds of the equity they release.

Kay Westgarth, Sales Director at Standard Life Home Finance, said:

“While the main driving forces in the market remain constant for both men and women, how these differ between the genders is really useful for advisers to factor into how they approach appointments.

“Women are more likely to see their home as their security, avoiding options which mean they may be forced to sell and worrying about being judged for their financial decisions.  They are more likely to be driven by the need to boost their income or build a nest egg following a life event impacting on their planning or finding an unexpected shortfall.

“Developing a better understanding of the subtly different ways each gender approaches the advice process is an important part of flexing your soft skills as an adviser. And the research clearly highlights the benefits that female homeowners can gain from speaking to an adviser about how to use their housing wealth in later life.“No one person is the same irrespective of gender, but Standard Life Home Finance is delighted to be able to share this research which will help advisers better serve their clients at what is a tricky time in the market.” Back to newsroom

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