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Brokers berate Barclays claims

Aifa is calling on the FSA to investigate Barclays for claiming its service is as good, if not better, than that offered by IFAs.

The claims, made in a brochure for the Premier banking service, have outraged the IFA sector, fuelling allegations that the firm is breaching the principles of treating customers fairly and misleading clients.

The Premier service features access to a range of services, including Barclays multi-tie Select Choice, Barclays Stockbrokers and a tax advice service via Ernst & Young.

The brochure lists “five good reasons why the financial services offered by Barclays are in some ways as good, if not better, than those offered by an IFA.” Reasons given include access to carefully selected “world’s best investment companies” and a “one-stop shop” to meet all clients’ investment needs, meaning there is “no need to waste time shopping around”.

Although Premier staff cannot give advice on investments, “they will introduce you to colleagues at Barclays Financial Planning who can”.

Aifa director general Chris Cummings says: “The FSA should look at this under the financial promotion rules. Since every firm is encouraged to push TCF, Barclays should be forced to back up their outrageous claims in this brochure by showing how they are better than IFAs.”

A Barclays spokeswoman says: “Our proposition is broader than financial planning. Select Choice also provides links to six main providers chosen through a rigorous and disciplined selection process. We are not bound to providers and will leverage partnerships or switch providers to ensure we offer our customers the best value and advice.”

Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “For Barclays to claim that they are better than the massive IFA market out there is disingenuous.”

Syndaxi Financial Planning managing director Robert Reid says: “This shows that the FSA’s rules on status disclosure need a complete rewrite. These employees work for Barclays, not the customer.”

Comment, p47

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