The bank is placing MoneySense advisers in-store, trained for eight hours by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, to offer free financial guidance to all customers, regardless of whether they are NatWest customers or not.
The bank says the MoneySense roles are completely focused on guidance, and are not linked to endorsing or selling products. It says to further ensure impartiality, the Bank will invite influential leaders from educational organisations, charities and other independent bodies to participate in the scheme.
NatWest says the ‘advisers’ will give guidance on basic budgets and budgeting skills, help with prioritising outgoings and expenses, work with customers on savings plans and give “general, impartial guidance on how financial products work”.
Also, in an attempt to promote the scheme, NatWest is to run a television advertising campaign, shot in branches using the advisers and real customers to illustrate the help available.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group chairman of regional markets Gordon Pell says: “Bringing MoneySense in-branch through our newly-trained advisers and working with CCCS makes sense in the current climate. We already have 60,000 adults per month accessing money guidance on our website and over 110,000 impartial Money Guides picked up in branch since the start of this year.
“During the pilots most people told us that they would look for help at their bank and with over 2 million people coming into our branches each week, this environment seems a natural fit for the MoneySense Adviser service.”
Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director Robert Reid says: “Anybody who runs a service like this should be commended.I do a similar thing on a volunteer basis and I have found you can be quite surprised at how complicated people’s situations are. The challenge for these people is to get to grips with the complexities of people’s finances.
“If this ever led to selling or promoting products then it’s not doing what it is supposed to do. It must be just aiding, not implementing, otherwise the waters become muddied.”