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Redundancy fears as 800 Santander advisers face crunch meeting

Santander’s 800 investment advisers have been summoned to a crunch meeting next Wednesday prompting fears of redundancies.

The bank’s advisers have been suspended since 7 December as the bank decided they did not meet “RDR suitability and processes” requirements.

At the time, Santander said the advisers would be put on a six-week “intensive training programme” to bring them up to speed, however Money Marketing understands the training has not yet started for the majority of advisers.

It is believed only 70 advisers have received training to do some protection business and look after a tranche of bonds that are maturing shortly.

Santander says all advisers and supervisors have received distance learning and related assessments in December and January.

At its weekly conference call on Wednesday, Santander told advisers to attend a meeting at the NEC in Birmingham on 13 February at 11am.

A source says: “There was a change of tone – previously it has all been about how committed Santander was to providing financial advice. This week the only information was that all advisers are instructed to attend a conference on 13 February at the NEC.

“The general feeling seems to be that they will probably announce redundancies at this meeting.”

A Santander spokesman says: “Santander continues to review its financial advice offering within the new regulatory framework. Santander committed to its adviser force back in December that it would keep them informed of the progress of this review. The meeting next Wednesday at the NEC is part of this commitment.”

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Comments

There are 43 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I could cry for our industry. What will be left, if anything once the horrendous effect of RDR finally hits home. Our industry appears to be heading for destruction, cheered on by the idiots at the FSA.

  2. Not a very nice weekend ahead for advisers when this speculation is floating about. What about the clients who will be left out in the cold, let down and untrusting of a mainstream bank.

    This should have been something Santander needed to manage carefully and over a long period of time, possibly arranging a transition of service to another firm! How long have we been planning RDR?

    Maybe they are about to annouce such a process. But then again ……….

  3. “Not a very nice weekend ahead for advisers when this speculation is floating about. What about the clients who will be left out in the cold, let down and untrusting of a mainstream bank.”

    Me Me Me, send them to Me I will look after them properly and ensure their plans are suitable, meet their needs and perform as expected.

    Fat chance Ned !

  4. RegulatorSaurusRex 8th February 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Sesame is for sale.

  5. No consolation to those staff (advisers and there support staff) but when will people (those at the FSA included) that big is not best.

    The larger an organisation the more likely that a strategic review will be carried out and a service removed at a whim.

    An IFA will usually always be there as it is their livelyhood.

  6. fergus macpherson 8th February 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Carol Ogden, I agree with you. I am an IFA, and therefore if I were selfish, I would look on this as a great thing for IFAs. But I don’t think like that. I think instead that the silliness, and bloody-mindedness of the FSA will simply lead to ordinary clients being left with nowhere to go. To think that MA will fill the gap is too silly for words. The inability of the FSA to listen to common-sense is counter productive to our industry.

  7. Was this the real intention of the FSA is to kill off the Bancassurance Industry where the mass market go to for advice.

    Large IFA firms and most successful IFAs wouldn’t spend hours for a small case such as £150pm S&S ISA or small premium cover.

    This results to DIY policies taken out from the comparison sites and would be wrong.

    Additionally, if the FSA wanted customers to know about “commission” why don’t they show how much the comparision sites make from each policy that is taken up via their site. I know RDR doesn’t affect insurance but is exactly the same principles.

  8. All of those people some with families and mortgages joining the dole queue along with those thousands from the other banks and financial institutions because of the FSA’s obsession with the RDR.
    What will they dream up next albeit same people but in a different guise?

  9. At least Santander has realised the limitations of their advisory services unlike most of the other sales force advisers who will continue to provide barely adequate advice via bancassurers and life offices. Having been made redundant once from a life office sales job I chose to be an IFA, which offers job security and the knowledge that the advice is not wholly sales driven.

  10. Sadly this is only the beginning,so few large organisations can make any money in advisory services as the margins are now so small that the industry will continue to contract for some time.IFA’s will not generally benefit as the majority of bank clients are small investors who only want ISA, regular savings or mortgages (hence Santander will keep some protection people) .Many will say good ridance to the bank adviser ,who has in many ways contributed to this by selling products not advice ,but that was always a management issue.However,as ever its the consumer who will suffer in the long run,most cannot afford an IFA services in the same way they cannot afford solicitors.Regulation will strangle the industry and one day the politicians and their QUANGO’s will realise what they have done.In the meantime they rule the roost as we can all see with the rantings from Sharon Bowles today.

  11. Arise Sir Hector!!

    For services for the destruction of the Financial Services Industry.

  12. Bancassuance Adviser 8th February 2013 at 4:30 pm

    My company had 2 sales forces last year, tied and ifa, they got rid of 700 tied guys ( guess who it is yet ) now rdr has entered the ifa population has now become restricted ( guess who it is yet) we have no targets, don’t know how our discretionary bonus will be paid (guess who it is yet) we are now required to see 17 – 20 clients per week to extol the virtues of our proposition, we can’t see how our company will make any money, but to do the job and spin all the plates requires 70 + hours per week. The writing is on the wall. We expect we will be next (guess who it is yet) I couldn’t possibly say.

  13. this is another dark day, give it a few years and we will look back and parliamentory review will have Hector and ilk up in front to lament failings. I have heartfelt sorrow for you Santander people; have been an IFA for 10 of 24 years in fin serv. I wish you all the best. FSA you are a disgrace and politicians too.

  14. How can the FSA expect a global company based on profits with shareholders operate with no targets or bonuses. Get off your lazy arses (FSA) and regulate closer and be proactive than reactive and we may be all in a better place!!!!

  15. @bancassurance adviser

    The writing has been on the wall for years. Get out while you can – i.e. while you have a shred of sanity left.

  16. @ Andy Pandy. You stole my words 🙂
    To all bancassurer advisers, while I know this is horrible for you, this may be a positive move for you and push you towards Independence. Whilst I peronally extol becoming dirctly regulated ( perhaos via a 5-10 IFA firm) as an ex bank adviser myself I would suggest you speak to Simply Biz or Independent too to see what support you need until you can be comfoirtable as a Directly regulated firm. Good luck.

  17. I have recently left bank assurance as an advisor. a horrible target driven environment. loads of pressure to sell. the wealth companies have been desperate to keep a foothold but the good times for them are over. Even now I still read that life companies are charging 1.5% amc. disgraceful. the consumers are becoming more educated. imo if you have only 10k to invest then you should out it on deposit as you dont have a capacity for loss.same goes for £100. put it in the bank because the charges will gobble it up

    so pleased to be out. golfing season soon too.

  18. HSBC next to take such action watch this space in 9-12 months !!!

  19. F-S-A: Financial Services Assassination

  20. What will become of all the people who work for the fsa, they have regulated themselves out of business the industry will be finished

    Very smart I hope they have not long leases on there posh offices in canary wharf.

  21. With IFAs going to the wall and retiring and banks getting rid of all their advisers I assume we will see some job losses by the FCA as they wont need so many people to ‘strangle’ the industry sorry I mean regulate the industry. HA HA no bloody chance………….. no doubt they will employ more and more and build a few more ivory towers to strangle the few poor sods that are left!!

  22. for a country which claims to be at the head of financial services internationally the Gov and the so called regulators are doing everything they can to destroy the industry and reduce advice for ordinary people, I don’t believe that RDR will improve the situation but it does point towards a euro universal banking and financial services system where one size fits all and everyone will get to pay more tax to prop up the super state

  23. Having worked for Abbey/Santander these people are just target driven salespeople, nothing more.

    They should not be alloweed to include ‘consultant/planner/manager’ in their job title. The public are being misled by that nice man/woman in the bank/

  24. Could this be another (pre) St Valentines Day Massacre ?

  25. Seems to me that if Santander can’t justify their charges now they have to be transparent, then it just proves they were ripping their customers off before when the charges were hidden behind surrender penalties etc.

    RDR seems to be working – all the IFAs I know are working as normal, whilst the big banks and sales groups are contracting rapidly.

  26. Santander Adviser 11th February 2013 at 9:18 pm

    IFA, are you for real? The reason bancassurance is collapsing is due to their “low” charging structure and their inability to cover the costs of an ever growing end to end process which has come as a result of RDR. If your average investment was £15k could you afford to do business? Santander will no doubt retain a sales force but with reduced numbers aimed at high net clients where there is still a profit to be made. And for the record, there has never been exit charges at Santander, and only recently introduced a small initial fee. It is a sad day that anyone wanting to invest has to now pay through the nose for an IFA and also roll the dice that they have found an honest one. Another monumental blunder by the FSA

  27. I feel sorry for some of the advisers, but the management from Rmb and fas is woefull and over the years they have promoted unethical sales practice by just focusing on sales results. The customer has never been put first by such companies despite all the talk, they just care about a sale at any cost.

  28. Thankyou for your concern IFA’s that see this as an opportunity to have a go at bank based advisers. Potentially alot of very good hard working people will be out of a job this by this time tomorrow. Every industry has its bad apples but nobody will ever convince me that 800 staff are product floggers. The people with the least amounts of money are the people that rely on this advice and cannot afford to go to IFA’s so yes lets up the consumer protection for these people by ensuring they have got nowhere to go for advice . Bravo FSA *slowly applauds*

  29. I have recently made the transition from bancassurance adviser to IFA so like to think i have an idea as to how both worlds work.

    Anonymous @ 9:14 – You are right. I know people who currently work for Santander and know that they aren’t sales hungry product pushers but i have no doubt that there are some within the 800 people being made redundant. Just as i have no doubts that some IFA’s are in it for the commission/adviser charge rather than giving it advice.
    Both industry sectors have bad apples so lets not argue amongst ourselves. When it boils down to it we’re all on the same team. The real bad apples are the FSA.
    I’m sure they are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. They have succesfully reduced the options for the vast majority of the public. Result: Less people getting financial advice than before.

    Lets turn our collective anguish at the changes being forced upon our industry towards the FSA. I doubt they will listen but it beats shouting at each other.

  30. @ Nick Wardle I agree but its not just the FSA .The company should be pretty ashamed . the re training that was going to re-shape the staff in question has predominantly involved learning how to sell credit cards and bank accounts ( seriously). 2 years to prepare for this and it looks like the company have got it wrong and the staff are the ones being hung out to dry.

  31. @Anonymous 10:05
    Agreed, Santander have really messed this up. It’s unbelievable that they could think they had a RDR ready model only to realise they don’t 5 minutes into it.
    The other banks have all pulled the advice model based on being unable to make the costs work in their favour. It was always suspect that Santander were the only ones claiming to be able to make the bancassurance advice model work.
    Once again the front line staff are forced to pay for the managements failures. Thats 800 people out into a very competitive job market. My guess is that the vast majority will not continue giving advice. Is that what the FSA wants? Less competition in the financial services market? That is what they have now.

    I’m glad i’m out of the clutches of a multi-national company where you are a number not a person. I now work for a family run IFA firm where the customer is at the heart of everything and a welcome change it is.

  32. Anon @ 9.14
    You are right. This is peoples livelihoods we are talking about.
    Many hardworking people will be affected, as will their families if they lose their jobs.
    Have a bit of compassion. It could be you next.

  33. Feel sad for those people who are hard working and honest within Santander. I wont be sad to hear if some of those bad RMB’s and DMB’s (yes you know who you are) get the axe. That probably only account for about 80 of the 800.

    So that leaves the remaining 720 people who have worked hard and had faith in the messages fed to them by management. For two years Santander have spouted about their commitment to face to face advice. But their actions have told a different story, a slow start towards meeting RDR requirements which never gained pace has meant people and their families will suffer.

  34. Are people really surprised by what’s happening?? I agree that Santander have mis-managed the situation, but the other banks are likely to follow suit in the next 6-12 months. The simple fact is it’s not worth offering an advice service to someone unless they have a substantial amount to invest (£100k+). This is why many IFAs are trimming their clientbase to leave themselves with a nice mix of HNW and VHNW clients. Unfortunately this probably represents about 2-5% of the population. The remainder of the public will simply have to read the marketing literature online and make the buying decision themselves. Another opportunity for the likes of Martin Lewis whose been giving ‘unregulated’ investment advice for years via his website for years!! This is music to the ears of the regulator (and the MAIN reason why they introduced RDR!), as no advice means no risk for them and no chance of a claim against the FSCS!! Stakeholder was heralded as new dawn for pension planning in the UK, but the effect was that advisers walked away as it was no longer profitable and the public (without any prompting to save by advisers) simply spent their money. Guess what, we now have a HUGE pension blackhole. RDR will have the same effect on savings in this country, but those at the FSA who’ve created the problem don’t care as they’ll be retired and enjoying their final salary pensions!

  35. Its only ‘not worth it for clients with less than £100k to invest’ if your still using an old trasnactional charging model of say 3%, if your charging your clients for the time taken to actually provide the advice then of course its worth it.

  36. Duncan (3:49pm) – I think £100k is a bit high, but I agree it’s pointless to take someone through the advice process and charge them if they have a small amount of money to invest and a low attitude to risk. There is plenty of information on the internet for people to decide who is offering the best cash ISA, 1 year bond or deposit account. It’s ridiculous for an adviser to charge for information that’s widely available on the net. If you have an emergency fund; have used your ISA allowance; but have extra money that you’re prepared to invest for medium to long term growth then definitely go and speak to an adviser. Otherwise, don’t waste your money!

  37. The issue is that the blame is being made by Santander at the advisers and whilst responsibility needs to be shared, the main issue is lack of appropriate control process in Bancassurance. Re training is completing old reading and testing, focus is on banking and credit cards and communication is meant to be honest but tells you nothing. I have always done the right thing by customers and it seems it is now my fault

  38. As one of the above mentioned 800 advisers, am spending my evening keeping busy before my 4am start tomorrow.

    What is disappointing is the joy of some people comments hoping that another company leaves the market.

    The comments that we are not real financial planners are very annoying, while I accept we are limited in what we do, every day I added value and real support to my clients, our investments allowed clients to out preform cash returns, my advice on protection has helped family left behind after a death and reach people who other wise would not have any life cover.

    While we are pushed for targets, if it was not the right thing for the client I did not do it, after all I still had my salary, I have some very good things to say about IFA’s and equally examples of awful behaviour from IFA’s also.. It’s my clients left with no support am mostly worried for !!

  39. I left Santander 12 months ago to become an IFA as it was clear to me that RDR was not workable for them. There are a number of things that made giving decent client focused financial advice almost impossible….

    …Things such as giving branches/advisers a set percentage target of monthly fixed rate bond maturities to convert into investment (and sometimes twice daily conference calls to explain this!), a shockingly inadequate system for fact finding and managing investments, a financial advice sales force that for long periods were unable to offer protection or pension advice, a complete and utter bias towards Structured Investments, and Advice Quality team that offer no support other than an online guide that constantly contradicts itself. The list goes on.

    I feel for my former colleagues, but the ones that were giving good advice despite the environment they were in, will go on to better things. When they do, they will realise, as I did, how much opportunity is out there.

    The advisers there that put 90% of their customers into “capital guaranteed” structured investments/deposits because they are easy to sell to a “fixed rate bond customer” will struggle, and perhaps rightly so.

  40. All this negativity is very tiresome. Despite RDR and 5 advisers having to take loads of exams to achieve QCF 4 we have 7 in total and another in the pipe”we have just had our best ever year, 2013 is looking good and we are recruiting. So if you are looking for a decent opportunity email me – we are in the South East. sw@fffp.co.uk

  41. Personally, RDR has not affected me that much this year in terms of the levels of business that I’m doing. My clients do not seem to mind paying for the right advice.

    I still take a 3% initial advice charge, there are still platform charges and there are still fund charges. (None of them are excessive in any way, providing the advice is sound!) The only addition this year is that of a 0.5% Optional Ongoing Service Charge which my clients do not have to pay should they not want to. If they do, they can later opt out of it should they no longer feel that I’m adding value to them and their money. The panel of funds that I have access to are great funds and the panel has been growing over the last 12 months. It’s now at the point where we have some of the best funds in each sector in the market and the range is as diverse as it would need to be for any of my clients.

    I can still protect my clients and their families but this year I can do it for the same price as my client would pay for going direct to L&G or Aviva. I can still set up trusts etc, so why would they not come to me for some advice!?

    I can still offer annuities from the top 6 providers in the market! I have personally secured increases in some of my clients annual income of 50%. That’s an extreme example but I usually am able to get substantially more.

    Nothing has really changed for me since last year except things have gotten a little bit cheaper for my clients who wish to invest.

    Best of all is that I’m a bancassurer. I have a nice basic salary and my managers in my current company have never put any undue pressure on me to sell sell sell. (Although they did tell me that RDR was not a licence not to write any business!) We have a very strong code of ethics and a rolling mystery shop programme to keep us all on our toes. (The results of which have a direct result on our continuing employment.)

    Although I’m very happy where I am, I do also see that I must be one of the lucky ones that went to work for the right company at the right time. I feel for the Santander lot… I too was chopped before in a wave of redundancies but it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to me!

    Good luck with RDR everyone!

  42. I work for Nationwide as a senior financial consultat,we are told that we are pretty much the only ones left on the high street amongst the banks but I am not sure how we can survive RDR when much bigger banks have pulled out if the market!, time will tell

  43. Sad to see people lose their job against their wishes. I believe though that High Street branches of the big banks such as Lloyds, Santander etc really should review and reassess the quality of their Branch Managers. The ones who meet the new criteria an who want to stay should stay. The ones who don’t should be made redundant. Customers are looking for great service in their local branches and clearly there are too many young and inexperienced branch managers as well as too many past their sell by date and unable to move with the times. I want someone running my local branch who is capable and wants to do that job. If not then they should be made redundant, allowing the right person to do so. Banking needs this shake up in the front line.

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