Santander suspends its 800 investment advisers due to RDR

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Santander has suspended its investment advice service and pulled 800 advisers off the road with immediate effect because they are not fully trained to meet RDR standards, Money Marketing can reveal.

The bank says all advisers have the appropriate qualifications but do not meet the requirements for “RDR suitability and processes”. They will now complete an intensive bespoke training programme to bring them up to the required standards. No date has been set for their return.

A Santander spokesman says: “Ahead of the implementation of the RDR in January, we are taking the time to consider the right solution for all our stakeholders.

“As part of this process it was identified that our advisers require additional support and training to meet the expected standards. We will therefore be undertaking an additional intensive bespoke training programme. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience this may cause them.”

In September, Santander outlined its plans to offer face-to-face investment advice post-RDR to customers with existing savings and investments of at least £25,000.

The investment advice service will be restricted to products from Santander Asset Management.

In August 2011 Santander UK was forced to stop selling and advising on Aviva protection policies in-branch due to concerns over advisers’ lack of product knowledge.

Last month, Lloyds Banking Group axed its mass market investment advice service, only offering advice to consumers with £100,000 through its private banking services.

Barclays closed its financial planning arm in January 2011, only offering advice to high net worth clients through Barclays Wealth.

In November, HSBC scrapped plans for a whole of market IFA arm as it didn’t meet FSA independence standards. It now plans to move to a restricted advice service post-RDR.

In June, the Royal Bank of Scotland closed its 118-strong IFA arm as it moves to a restricted advice model as part of its RDR overhaul. The bank also cut its financial planning arm in half, shedding 618 jobs.