Irish later life lending sector expected to grow more than €200m per year by 2027

Spry Finance expects Ireland’s equity release and later life lending market to more than double in size to more than €200m annually within the next three years.

Strong growth in the sector will be driven by a combination of factors, including greater need and acceptance by customers, a broader range of later life lending products, and new providers entering the market.

Spry Finance is Ireland’s sole provider of lifetime loans and has written more than €120m in loans to almost 2,000 homeowners aged over 60 since launching in early 2021. However, the Irish market is significantly underdeveloped compared to other countries – and Spry believes equity release and later life loan products will increasingly become a normal part of the financial landscape for older people.

Spry CEO John Moriarty said: “We expect the equity release and later life lending sector in Ireland to grow and be worth more than €200m annually within the next three years. Customer demand is increasing, and this will attract new entrants to the market, such as life insurance companies, which will drive product innovation and growth. In the UK, for example, there are 10 providers and more than 450 equity release and later life loan products available.”

The forecast follows the recent publication of a new report which shows that reduced incomes, insufficient pensions, and longer mortgage terms mean that many older people are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their living standards in retirement.

The report – Later Life Finance and The New Age of Equity Release – analyses independent data and trends to provide insight into the financial and social challenges posed by Ireland’s growing older population. It shows that while older people are living longer and their wealth is increasing, they often struggle to access finance and are the group most at risk of poverty.

Spry Finance produced the report to highlight issues that impact on quality of life for older people. Key findings include:
• Household wealth for those aged over 65 (€291,600) is among the highest in Ireland – but that age group has the lowest median household income (€29,165) – 42% less than households in the 50-65 category (€50,519).
• Almost half (46.9%) of households with one adult over 65 reported having at least some difficulty in making ends meet last year, with more than a third of households at risk of poverty.
• The age at which the majority of householders pay off their mortgage is 59, up from 56 in 1991, with an increasing number of homeowners are still paying their mortgage after they retire. In 2020, more that 14% of mortgages held by people aged 65-69 were reported to be in arrears.
• One-in-five people aged over 75 report some difficulty with personal care, while just 4,219 additional nursing home beds were provided between 2014 and 2022 despite an additional 45,000 nursing home beds being required to fulfil current projected demand by 2031.

Mr Moriarty added: “We’re moving towards a future where an increasing number of older people will not be able to maintain their living standards when they retire. There needs to be a rethink about attitudes towards wealth and inheritance and how people plan and fund retirement – including the role of all financial tools, including lifetime loans.

“Spry understands the needs and concerns of older people and the challenges they face. We’re determined to provide choice for older homeowners with a broader range of financial products to help them access the wealth they’ve built up in their home and ensure they can have a comfortable retirement.”

* Later Life Finance and The New Age of Equity Release   Read the Report