View more on these topics

Which? challenges impartiality of NatWest’s MoneySense service

A Which? investigation into NatWest’s MoneySense service has borne out Money Marketing’s findings that it is sometimes failing to deliver on its promise of impartial advice.

Money Marketing went undercover on a mystery-shopping exercise in January and on two out of five visits, NatWest’s Money Sense advisers provided quotes for the bank’s own mortgages.

The new study by Which? found that just four out of 20 MoneySense sessions attended by researchers provided the imp­artial information advertised, without any attempt either at or after the meeting to interest the customer in NatWest products.

During six of the visits, Which? says the adv­iser spoke exclusively about NatWest products and in two of these, there was no mention of shopping around.

In the other 10 visits, the researcher was passed on to a customer service adviser or the MoneySense adviser ended the session and went on to speak exclusively about NatWest products.

In its marketing materials, NatWest describes the service as “completely focused on helpful guidance” and “not linked to endorsing or selling products”.

Aifa director general Chris Cummings says the findings show that the service is merely “a slick selling machine”.

He says: “It shows the FSA’s financial promotions regime is not fit for purpose as the regu- lator has allowed larger firms to run rings round it.

NatWest should undertake a review of all customers who have come thr­ough this service and ended up with one of its products to ensure there has been no detriment.”

A NatWest spokeswoman says the advisers have been trained and accredited by the Consumer Credit Counselling Service and claims it is benefiting thousands of consumers.

She says: “We regularly conduct our own internal reviews of the service and this report certainly does not reflect our experience. We have received excellent customer feedback.

“Referring a consumer to a customer service adviser at the end of the MoneySense session is entirely appropriate if they have asked the adviser for product-related information.”

She says NatWest will look into the findings in detail.

An FSA spokesman would not comment on the NatWest service specifically but says there is no bias in its regulation of firms.

He says: “Our work on financial promotions has resulted in over £1.5m in fines on large and small firms since 2004.

“The industry and consumers can help us by telling us if they see an advert that they feel is unfair, unclear or misleading, so we can investigate.”


EU rules could hit investment trusts

Proposed European Union rules could create fundamental problems for investment trusts, says Ian Sayers, the deputy director general of the Association of Investment Companies (AIC).Under the new law, managers of hedge funds and similar alternative investment funds that handle at least 500m (445m) would have to register with regulators. For those managers that use borrowed […]

Latin lessons

Latin America has often lured investors with the promise of riches. From the Europeans who crossed the Atlantic in search of El Dorado in the 16th Century to the Latin American debt bubble of the 1820s and beyond, the region’s vast natural resources have attracted attention.


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm