Advisers have expressed anger at the award of the National Savings & Investments premium bond advice contract to a small Shropshire-based firm.
Last September, NS&I sparked a bidding war to advise the monthly £1m premium bond winners after Close Brothers Asset Management ended its eight year association.
In its tender process, NS&I said it would only consider firms with “national coverage” leading some small advisers not to apply.
The original tender stated: ”The advice firm must have suitably qualified staff (Chartered and/or Certified Financial Planners), based at physical offices located across the UK, to enable their services to be provided at very short notice.”
However, from 1 April Matrix Capital will offer advice to winners despite only having one Shropshire office with six staff including two advisers and a paraplanner.
Rowley Turton IFA Scott Gallacher says: “It’s very, very frustrating. NS&I certainly gave the impression it wanted a bigger firm with multiple branches, which is why we didn’t go down the tender process. We didn’t even consider it when it said national. NS&I should have made it clear that firms prepared to travel would be considered.”
Bloomsbury Wealth Management partner Jason Butler says: “To say I’m annoyed about this is an understatement.
“I have no doubt about the winning firm’s capabilities or professional standing but this does not follow the criteria that was set out in the tender document.”
The Institute of Financial Planning approached NS&I with a consortium bid of 60 firms but was rejected because it only wanted applications from single entities.
IFP communications director Sue Whitbread says: “We are surprised to see a small firm from Shropshire win the bid particularly as NS&I was looking for national coverage. I’m sure it has gone through due diligence and scrutiny.”
An NS&I spokesman says: “Provided that firms applying could clearly demonstrate that they met the requirement to service customers nationally, we did not exclude firms who only have one or two of their own physical branches.
“Ultimately, we needed to have the assurance that all our premium bonds jackpot winners could be looked after in the same way, irrespective of where they live in the UK. Against this requirement, Matrix Capital demonstrated an excellent understanding of the service that NS&I wishes to be provided, together with a robust process for its provision.”