Sandra Lillienberg, 60plusbanken: I see a big potential for equity release in Sweden
Sandra Lillienberg, Head of Equity Release at 60plusbanken in Sweden, shares her perspective on the prospects for growth of equity release in the Swedish market and the role of 60plusbanken within this, with a recent report showing that having a stable financial situation is the most important thing for an absolute majority of Swedes when retiring.
Tell us about 60plusbanken, a unit of Bluestep Bank AB (publ), based in Sweden. When was the company launched and what services does it offer?
That’s right, 60plusbanken is a part of Bluestep Bank, the leading specialist mortgage bank in the Nordics and we launched in June 2020. As of today we offer one product – 60pluslånet- an equity release product aimed at helping people over the age of 60 to free up capital tied in property to allow for more people to have a stable retirement without having to move.
60plusbanken recently published a report, based on a survey by Kantar Sifo, setting out the views of over 60s on their personal finances. Could you share some of the key findings of this report?
Yes, we released a report called the 60plusreport which is a survey that shows how Swedish people of all ages view their retirement, what they wish for and worry about. The most striking finding is that the absolute majority of Swedes say that the most important thing when retiring is having a stable financial situation. That means that most people don’t dream about expensive trips or luxury – but to be able to maintain the quality of life that you have built. In connection to this we also see that a majority worries about having a low income as a retiree. This proves that there is a large demand for our product.
How would you describe the evolution of the equity release market in Sweden and in Scandinavia more broadly?
Equity release has been a product offered by most large banks in Sweden before, however that product was heavily criticized and rightly so. 60pluslånet is a new type of product that offers a debt-free guarantee and a guarantee to be able to continue living in your house regardless if the market prices fall. This makes it much more secure and sustainable long term than the products that have existed before. The introduction of amortization requirements on mortgage loans and the income requirements for loans has left many retirees excluded from traditional banks. We have a big role to fill here, both for individuals and for society at large as well. Since the 60plusloan is free from amortization and the interest is not paid until the property is sold, we enable people who own their houses to gain from the increasing market prices by increasing their mortgages without increasing their monthly costs.
How has 60plusbanken been reaching out to potential customers? What sort of feedback have you received so far? Did you have to adapt your plans and practices in the light of the pandemic?
My experience is that when you get the chance to explain what the 60plusloan entails in more detail most people are very positive to this product. I think it is important to state that this product can change the life for many people and ensure a stable situation after a lifetime of working. The pandemic has of course affected the entire society, and sadly perhaps the elderly population most of all. But in terms of our business or offering we have not seen the need to make changes.
How do you see the prospects for growth of equity release in Sweden for the coming year, and the role of 60plusbanken?
I see a big potential for equity release in general, especially given my positive experiences when discussing with potential and existing customers. In Sweden the majority of people over the age of 60 own their homes, and with housing prices having risen up to 80 percent meanwhile, many have put effort into amortization which has led to a low loan-to-value ratio. Hence, many over 60 years of age have a large capital tied up in their homes, but are unable to get a loan from a traditional bank in order to move or increase their monthly budget. Here I see that our role will continue to grow.