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Banks set to steala stake march

Barclays Bank is to send its 2,000 small business advisers into battle with IFAs over stakeholder pensions.

The move by Barclays comes as Andersen Consulting warns that the clearing banks, especially Barclays and NatWest, are the best-placed companies to challenge IFAs in providing stakeholder because many small businesses must provide access to plans.

There are nearly 20,000 business advisers in theUK, almost matching IFAnumbers.

It believes the banks&#39 relationships with the local business community through their small business advisers could prove the vital link that they need to get a foothold in the sector.

Andersen warns that the banks could steal a march by supplying smaller businesses with payroll systems which could be used to deduct stakeholder contributions as well as other computer systems and stationery. Stakeholder would simply be bolted on to the package.

Andersen Consulting associate partner Melanie Kneale says: “The big banks are perfectly poised to enter the smaller enterprise market with stakeholder although it currently remains untapped.

“They have a huge opp-ortunity but so far they have not really shown the adeptness to capitalise in this market despite their strong cor- porate franchise and it is obvious for them to try and sell on from that.”

Barclays head of life and pension products Kevan Ward says: &#39This is exactly what we are doing. I think the banks are well positioned to develop these links without existing customers and we are working towards developing internet solutions for them.”

Johnstone Douglas managing director Nigel Chambers says: “Not every small business likes its bank and not every small business wants to put all its eggs in one basket.”

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