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Which? could widen scope of advice service

Which? says it has not ruled out offering other financial advice services following its decision to become a mortgage adviser.

The consumer body launches a new mortgage advice service, free to Which? members and their family and friends, later this month. It says its members demanded the service as they find it difficult to get “trustworthy advice”.

The phone-based service will look at all mortgage deals, including direct-only loans, and will be funded by Which? and any procuration-fees paid by lenders. Advisers will be paid on a salary basis only.

A Which? spokeswoman says: “There are no plans to diversify at the minute. This is in response to what members have said they want but we will continue to listen to what our members want and re-examine if other services are needed.”

Worldwide Financial Planning IFA Nick McBreen says: “I have reservations about the sustainability of their model. In terms of their brand, it is a bit like they have gone gamekeeper turned poacher. They have turned over to the other side of the fence under the premise people aren’t getting trustworthy advice. That is less than helpful and unfortunate – there are plenty of good firms out there giving good advice.”

Affluent Financial Planning managing director Carl Melvin says Which? is wrong to move into providing advice.

He says: “Their leading proposition has always been that they are independent, completely impartial and an assessment of what they think is right.

He adds: “I don’t think it is a great move and I think they have gone too far. I think the public – rightly or wrongly – will think less of Which?, in terms of their credibility.”


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There are 12 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Obviously Which have short memories having recommended(albeit in a smoke screen so it could not bite them back) endowments and Equitable Life in the past. I wonder how many people took their asdvice on these two issues and then the sales person took the brunt of the aftermath that followed in both areas.

    Their profit does not come from testing washing machines etc but from people subscribing.

  2. You must be joking 12th November 2010 at 9:57 am

    Lets get one thing straight to start with – which are NOT offering FREE ADVICE, they are working on a commission only model.

    This, to my mind, means that they are not independent, as they are not offering a fee model.

    On this basis, if they move into offering financial advice, they will have to change their business model – or do they intend to offer a fee of ZERO, whilst not being able to receive commission? That makes no business sense of course!

    In all homesty, I really can’t see why the trade press give Which? the time of day.

    They should stick to comparing washing machines and tumble driers where direct comparisons can be made, and not try to ‘play’ in the world of financial services where so many external, unknown future factors will have an effect on any decision made now.

    Actually, having thought about that for a minute, go Which? go, get in the real world, see what its like to be an IFA, your own business model will collapse, but at least you’ll have an idea of hop hard us guys work for our clients!

  3. I like a lot of other people remember Which recomending Eqitable Life as they did not pay commission!!111 Likewise endowments were the best way to buy a house as you could move every few years and not have to worry as you had built up a fund. Good advice their readers took then complained to the IFA,s who sold them. Which magazine keep out of things you dont know about let the proper advisers get on with their jobs

  4. Free = no commission no salary no reward.
    Can we please hear from our paid for representative organisation AIFA as to their response to the FSA for such a misleading proposition with our potential clients their target market.

  5. Agree with “you must be joking” my understaidng is that this service is NOT FREE they are taking “commission” or from providers to offset the salaries of those that give advice.

    There is thus a conflict of interest between being a consumer champion (or so they claim) which has no link to any product provider to one that now has commercial links to product providers, so I hope all those that use Which as a so called “consumer champion” take that into account.

    It will be hard in my view for “Which” to seperate what is good for the “consumer” and what is good for “Which’s” profits.

    They will no doubt plug the “free mortgage service” as a way of selling other “which” products and it will be interesting to see how they disclose the so called “free mortgage advice” service when they receive a payment from the mortgage product provider.

  6. Traded endowments, life settlement funds, PPI, with-profits , DB transfers and opt-outs next ?

    oh happy days

  7. Two days ago I commented…

    Leslie Squires | 10 Nov 2010 1:30 pm

    I like to think that most independent mortgage advisers offer an impartial and trusted source of mortgage advice to their customers so one can only assume that Which? Readers visit other sources for mortgage advice.
    Personally, I have no problem with Which? giving mortgage advice providing that it follows the same regulatory requirements as everyone else in the mortgage market. Clearly, they have overheads to meet and mortgage adviser salaries to pay so there must be a cost for their services and they certainly cannot remain in business if they do not make a charge for this service? Sorry Which? there is no such thing as a free lunch or should I say free service.
    I strongly believe that part of mortgage advice is also covering the associated risk factors. Is Which? also going to provide the appropriate mortgage protection and general insurance advice and this also going to be a free service?

    Today we read “Which? says it has not ruled out offering other financial advice services following its decision to become a mortgage adviser”

    If Which? is receiving procuration fees and subscriptions from its members how can they advertise this as a free service to their members?

    I say again, I have no problem with Which? becoming a Financial Adviser so long as they are subject to the same regulatory requirements.

  8. Commission, Fees, Procuration fees, Salary, Bonus, PAYE, subscription. Call it what you like but it is NOT free advice.
    Let us not forget the FSA is “commission only” except they call it a FEE. Their income is l derived from the products and services that have been sold for commissions or fees.
    98% of complaints are from Bank clients that are paid a salary rather than commission.

  9. Tom IFA | 12 Nov 2010 10:25 am

    You are being a bit hopefull asking AIFA to get involved.
    Its Friday,they will be out for a very long lunch,probably with Which & the FSA having a laugh at us

  10. As part of the service I offer I see customers in the evenings at their homes and at the weekends. I don’t just pick the most suitable
    deal I am available personally to help at all hours of the day. I don’t see Which as a real

  11. How can Which? give ‘free’ impartial advice when it will be receiving commission/procurement fees from providers?

    Isn’t this the business model that the FSA and Which? are so against as in their opinion it leads to product bias?

    Talk about exploiting your position of being ‘impartial’ to increase profits.

  12. Whilst not dissagreeing with some of the comments that have been made, take your blinkers off guys and put yourself in the position of the “normal” average Uk resident.

    The reputation of your industry has been ruined by so called “financial “advisers” and “Which” offers a very strong brand of ethical and honest behaviour.

    Whinge all you want, but as an industry you have yourself to blame for not greatly improving your entry standards and ethical behaviour many years ago.

    And now as your industry is told that it HAS to improve it’s standards (RDR) what do we hear? Almost universal whinging!

    Get real or get out. The choice is yours because you will receive very little sympathy from the general public.

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