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Advisers slam ’11th hour’ changes to Santander RDR plans

Santander 480

Advisers have slammed Santander for its “11th hour” suspension of 800 investment advisers with inadequate training just three weeks before the RDR comes into force.

Last week, all investment advisers were told they must attend a six week “bespoke intensive training programme” on client suitability and fact finding.

Santander says it was not forced to make the changes by the FSA and the decision came from the results of an internal review ahead of the RDR.

A Santander spokeswoman says: “Ahead of the RDR, we are taking the time to consider the right solution for all stakeholders. As part of this process, it was identified that our advisers require additional support and training to meet the expected standards.”

Affluent Financial Planning managing director Carl Melvin says: “It is frankly ridiculous to make changes at this stage with all the resources it has. Why am I ready and Santander is not?

“It is a much bigger issue than the RDR and exposes a culture that does not pay attention to proper planning and focuses on selling products.”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of advice Danny Cox says: “It is really strange to see this being done so late. Everyone has understood the need to get the right training for the RDR for years so this comes at the 11th hour.”

Clayden Associates managing director Dan Clayden says: “It is clearly very serious as Santander is taking its entire team off the road and not just tweaking things. It is surprising at this late stage because the RDR has been around for so long.”

An FSA spokeswoman says: “It was a decision that the firm chose to make.”

In September, Santander outlined its plans to offer face-to-face investment advice post-RDR to customers with existing savings and investments of at least £25,000.

The investment advice service will be restricted to products from Santander Asset Management.


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There are 23 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. After 20 years of regulation their advisers need a six week “bespoke intensive training programme” on client suitability and fact finding??
    Don’t dress this up as RDR fallout.
    Expose it for what it is : a large institution with huge resources at its disposal that has managed to make it through the last 20 years of regulation without getting to grips with client suitability and fact-finding.
    It’s shameful and it needs resolving – the sooner the better obviously – but it’s not about RDR.

  2. Typical Employer using new rules to their advantage.

  3. doesn’t suprise me. I once went for an interview at Santander, I walked out after 20 minutes when the area manager who i had never met before said ‘if you don’t hit targets you will be micro managed’. this is the culture of the bank, RDR is a good thing because the banks are pulling out of advice. in my opinion banks should not be allowed to give regulated financial advice. the fsa need to start deauthorising heads of channels/departments associated with regulated advice in the banks, only then will the culture change

  4. Clearly they did not bother about suitability or fact finding before this! Unbelievable.

  5. I seriously doubt this is anything to do with RDR.

    They have clearly identified serious failings in the standards of advice being given.

  6. Whose business is this but the FSA’s, Santander’s and their clients?

  7. It is interesting that the the fall out of “Qualified Advisers” from the Banking sector are now seeking positions within the real world of the truly Independent sector. Their arrogance is that they present themselves on the basis of qualifications and “production” with their existing employers and are demanding correlating terms and conditions. These include, reliance on quality prebooked leads and appointments, paraplanning, report writing and all post sale administration… they then have the audacity to be seeking extortionate levels of remuneration.on an “employed” basis!..what world do they live in!

  8. If this training is for client suitability and fact finding according to Santander, this is an admission that their advisers have been bad at it for years. Why is the FSA not crawling all over them like a swarm of bees? They should be ordering thousands of files to be externally reviewed to reveal just how bad the situation is. Why is this not happening? Oh yeah I forgot they are a massive bank. that’s why it is not happening – silly me

  9. It’s the 12th hour, not the 11th. The 11th hour is that falling between 10 and 11 p.m. ~ plenty of time left.

  10. I have been employed by Santander up to very recently as an Adviser.
    There is still a very large amount of focus on targets and results. Regional managers seem to shout about looking after the customer, but behind closed doors it is definitely target, target, target!! This was the very reason why I left in the end, because they have no ethics whatsoever!
    On a positive note the standard of our Suitability Reports and FactFinding were extremely high!
    I am now employed in a compliance role for a large IFA firm and the quality of FF and SR is shocking, and that’s on a nataional scale
    In summary, it is always very easy for the people outside the bank to blame their advisers and the banks decisions etc. however no one is sparing a thought for their employees who are grilled and micro managed every day because you didn’t make a recommendation, to a person who clearly didn’t want any advice.
    I has been like that for years and unfortunately it will never go away, no matter what the bank says..

  11. Banks are there to borrow money from – mortgages, personal loans and business loans.

    They sell ‘products’ and advise on nothing.

    Barclays saw the light of RDR and binned their sales force – the others will follow as they see they cant offer a profitable or compliant solution.

  12. I agree with this person as I had the same experience with Llyods TSB and could not wait to get back in the real world. However, escape route to compliance was not on my mind as I have enjoyed my time in Financial Services as a a people person Adviser and still look after their needs. Compliance still way over the top compared to other industries and would never consider it. Easy way out.

  13. I went for an Interview with Santander and when the Area Sales Manager told me what he expected I declined the job offer. I have friends who told me to avoid this organisation. You can blame banks however the staff are only doing what they are told. There are very good advisors who work in banks. Not all of them are bad or sales hungry.

  14. I have friends who work at Santander and the deauthorisation is a redundancy exercise for the bank who realise that the workforce is larger than required for fee based advice post rdr. The ‘training’ is a smoke screen for a quota exercise and all those who fail will be made redundant on capability grounds.

  15. Tony Tarquini, Pegasystems 23rd January 2013 at 10:23 am

    Santander financial advisers are going back to school for retraining following an FSA inspection. What’s happening at Santander is a forerunner of the more proactive compliance checking likely from the FSA’s successor organisation, the Financial Conduct Authority.

    Retraining is clearly part of the solution but ensuring old habits die and new ones take their place has been difficult to guarantee once staff are out of the training room. Short cuts and non-compliant ways and means tend to creep back in especially as staff try to adapt offerings to a customer’s personal situation
    But clear thinking is key here because these kinds of problems do not stem from the sales staff alone. The root of the issue lies with management and the supporting systems they have implemented – or not.

    There’s an old school approach that falling down badly in cases like Santander. Old school is to be data centric and think you are doing well. That means you give agents all the data you have on a client (often across multiple systems open in multiple windows on their desktop) and leave then to make decisions “on the hoof” on the basis of what they can calculate instantly in their heads.

    By contrast, the new school approach aims for mass customisation. You limit the options available to the sales staff, given the specific data they enter and already had on that customer (e.g. PPI products not available to self employed customers). You also provide the agent with an objective and consistent means of advising the client based on the specific situation the client is in. This involves suggesting a next best offer based on what you know about the client and how much you want their business.

    The New world can only be achieved by using rules based systems integrated with case and customer relationship management capabilities. Otherwise it is unmanageable.

  16. this has nothing to do with the quality of santander’s advisers. Santander have got rid of all the management team responsible for the advisers. They must be having serious doubts about their business model.
    Advisers will be called to a meeting in the middle of find out their fate – the 13th of the month would be apt.

  17. Anonymous 14th Dec 2012 1.28pm. Rdr was put in place to stop dodgy underhand practices going on by you, the IFA. So before you make ignorant, ill thought out comments about bancassurance advisors please consider the impact the ‘real world’ advisors like your arrogant self have had.

  18. I have recently left Santander and their advisory world!

    It angers me when IFA’s have the cheek to put down banking financial advisers and ‘compliance’ when the “independent” world has shocking compliance issues! Yes I’ve worked both sides of the fence!

    Everyone has to start somewhere and although I agree banks are target driven and not client driven, I for one always had my clients interests at heart! If I didn’t think it was right I didn’t sell it!!

    Yes there are people in the banks that are all about sales and targets, but make no mistake about it, the IFA world is twice as bad… Now…. Lets talk about churning….

  19. These people should not be able to include the word ‘financial advice/planning’ in their job title. They are salesmen/women nothing less, nothing more.

  20. Anon @ 1.49pm

    So what !

  21. If advice is seperated from product, then there is no diffferece between independent & tied. ironically there is between independent & restricted post rdr, hence why i hope to remain independent!

  22. It makes me laugh to hear IFA’s take the moral high ground. They think they are truly independent. If you want independent advice the only place to get it is to pick up which magazine. In the past some IFA’s tended to stick to the same providers for products and used to justify it by strength when the bare crooks was it was usually down to the size of commission. I bet a lot of them even started off in bancassurance but have forgotten it, and yet because of conversations with custmers instigated by banks advisers probably pushed more business their way. Don’t laugh at the demise of the hand that may have fed you indirectly in some small way. Rdr was aiming to rid the industry of rogues. As a bancassurance adviser currently with 5 more days left, the biggest loser is the customer who now may not get any advice at all and perhaps may be put off now that charges are shown as charges and not hidden under the terms such as bid offer spreads. There are a lot of good advisers in all forms, sadly there are also bad. But the fact that some IFA’s used to churn every now and then and charge the same upfront fee- every 5 years with easy earnings means its a bit hypocritical to claim your whiter than white.

  23. uk@ anon 0.47am very easy for you to slkag someone off when posting anon. I was a bank adviser from 1992 to 98, initially IFa, then forced tied or resign. Nothing wrong with tied advice, just the banks have had 20 years to learn NOTHING about how to do good compliant business, which is service, service, service, not Sales as service drives sales, not vice versa.

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