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IFP says NatWest claims could confuse public

The Institute of Financial Planning has criticised NatWest for describing its financial planning managers as “fully qualified”, claiming it could mislead the public.

The NatWest website states: “When you deal with a NatWest financial planning manager you can expect: Professionalism – our fully qualified staff are there to help you.”

The bank says its managers hold the Chartered Insurance Institute’s certificate in financial planning or its predecessor, the financial certificate.

Institute of Financial Planning chief executive Nick Cann says technically the description is correct but adds: “It is because of marketing like this, which is slightly misleading and makes consumers believe that the advisers are more qualified than they are, that we are pushing for higher minimum qualifications through the retail distribution review.

“Consumer expectations need to be properly managed and you would expect to get a pretty good service with this title. The reality is that you will get sold a product and there will be little financial planning involved.”

CWP Financial Services director Bob Perry says: “I have no doubt they have the minimum qualifications but if someone needed advice on their mother going into a care home, unless the adviser had the CF8 long-term care qualification, a bond might be sold and it could be dealt with as an investment case, not a long-term care case.”

A NatWest spokeswoman says: “The industry-standard qualification for advisers is the certificate in financial planning and these are recognised by the FSA as the benchmark qualification. In some cases, our advisers hold additional qualifications above these requirements.”

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