Plymouth based firm Ocean Mortgages and Equity Release have reached the final of a prestigious national competition.
The family run business, became Directly Authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority in 2019. Managing Director Stuart Powell explained that Ocean has faced stiff competition to reach the final five Equity Release companies in the UK.
‘We entered the competition in January this year for the first time to see how we would get on. We are a small family business up against national broker firms so didn’t think we would stand a chance. The first round was the nomination which we sailed through, we then faced a public vote and received enough votes from our peers to enter the longlist. We had to submit an application as to why we thought we should be voted broker of the year in March and we then found out we had made the finals last week!’
Raising funds from property
Ocean, who have recently moved to new offices in Whimple Street Plymouth (next to St Andrews Church at the top of Royal Parade) are specialists in Equity Release mortgages. This means that they advise people aged over 55 who own their own property about their options to raise money using their property. This is an area that has grown considerably during recent years and Plymouth has become a national centre of excellence for this type of advice.
Sami Bickford, Senior Advisor at Ocean Equity Release explained, ‘we ensure that our clients are the focus of everything we do. This means that we provide them with information and advice in their preferred format. This may be via phone, email, video call or face to face to find out about their current circumstances. We are particularly proud of the client reviews we receive, many of which are from clients who we advise not to take our Equity Release as there are other alternatives for them.’
This remains a key aspect of Ocean’s advice. Rather than ‘selling’ Equity Release mortgages, Ocean examine several other alternatives to using money from a clients property and if one of these is a better option, then that will be the advice a client receives.
Integrity and information
This integrity is part of the main reason that Ocean has reached the final of this National competition. The ethos of the business is to provide information to over 50s who own their own home and are interested in raising funds. And to have a ‘no pester’ guarantee.
This information includes Lifetime Mortgage brochures, animated videos, short videos that answer the most popular questions that we are asked about Equity Release as well as calculators to work out how much clients could potentially borrow.
Interestingly, Ocean Equity Release Mortgages is the smallest and most recently formed company to reach the finals. The company has five employees in total, with two of these, Stuart and Sami, able to give Equity Release advice. Stuart explained, ‘Three of the other companies have a huge number of advisors (at least 100) across the country so it is really exciting for us to be able to fly the flag for Plymouth and small family businesses.’
The final round
The final round of judging takes place next week and involves a representative from each of the five finalists being interviewed by a panel of industry experts.
Ocean will discover the final result at a gala event at London’s Kensington Marriot Hotel in September.