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What a shower!

Why is it that once we pass a certain age we are somehow seen as unable to make sensible, informed financial decisions?

My shower had been running luke warm even on the maximum hot setting. So I bought a replacement temperature control unit and arranged for my local plumber to come in and do the necessary. Being a small local business with a reputation to maintain, he turned up on time, on the day he said he would and does the job neatly, expertly and promises to send the invoice in the next week or so.Hot Cold Shower resized

So far so good. Cue the next morning when I am looking forward to a nice hot shower.  Result disappointment – shower is still running luke warm. Tetchy call to plumber who explains that, ‘Sorry sir, these units come preset with a maximum temperature of 40° C.’ Ehm... why I ask? ‘Well, thing is, the company were getting complaints that the showers were running too hot, so they limit the maximum temperature so they don’t get sued by scalded customers.’

Now last time I checked I still had a reasonable amount of my faculties left, so if I decide that I want to have a super hot shower even to the point that it might involve a trip to A&E, then surely that is my decision? I know the risk and don’t need somebody else making that decision for me.

Why then do some lenders also make decisions on our behalf in the belief that once we pass a certain age we are somehow unable to make sensible, informed financial decisions? Take lending into retirement for example. If you have managed and invested your lifetime earnings wisely and are fortunate to have a guaranteed pension income for life as well as a substantial equity in your property, is there any reason why you cannot have the opportunity to remortgage in your retirement? This is not a call for irresponsible lending. On the contrary, as the same basic principles apply to any and every mortgage:

• The loan has to be affordable;
• The customer has to understand what they are getting themselves in to;
• Almost without exception now, they need to get advice on their mortgage; and
• The mortgage product that they take out needs to do what it says on the tin.

And of course, we shouldn’t forget there are certain eventualities that will apply more to this age group than others and which will need careful consideration. Life insurance to cover the death of a partner or having to meet care costs should either partner have to go into a care home are just a couple of not insurmountable examples. Downsizing is often an option to cover either of these eventualities.

Surprisingly the Age Discrimination Act does not apply to lenders so if a lender says ‘sorry we can’t lend to you because you are 68’, there is nothing you can do about it. Luckily though, we do take each case on its merits applying our own ‘common sense’ approach to looking at each application on its own merits and an individual’s particular circumstances – right up to the age of 89.  

And the shower? Now running nice and hot following a quick tweak by the same plumber, and no visits to A&E so far.


By Alistair Nimmo

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Family Building Society
Ebbisham House
30 Church Street
Surrey KT17 4NL
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