Barclays 600 IFAs have been told by their bosses they do not have to hang an “I” above their doors to provide good advice.
Some of the bank's advisers believe they are being softened up for a move to multi-ties after depolarisation. The RIs were given the message by Barclays financial planning managing director Phil Hyne at a national sales conference in Birmingham.
Some sources think that the bank intends to transform its IFA division, formed by last year's merger of Woolwich IFA Services and Sedgwick, into a multi-tied operation, leaving only a rump of around 30 independent advisers focusing on the corporate and high-net-worth markets.
Barclays says a proportion of its salesforce, including its tied arm, might multi-tie but it does not know how many will remain independent and it will not make a decision until it has seen the final rules outlining depolarisation.
Last March, Money Marketing revealed that the bank was considering multi-ties across the board but still believed that the tied channel would remain the best option for some consumers.
One adviser who attended the conference says: “Phil Hyne said 'You don't have to have an 'I' above the door to give good advice. The large portion of the crowd sitting around me took this to mean you do not have to give independent advice, which we would not be doing following depolarisation. We pride ourselves as being independent. For them to announce this in a round-about way at a conference has not sat well with many of us advisers.”
Barclays Financial Planning commercial director Alan Keegan says: “At this stage, no decision has been made as we need to see the details of regulation first. We are open-minded and are waiting to see how it will look in practice.”