NatWest not delivering impartial advice

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

Meanwhile, there were six visits in which the adviser spoke exclusively about NatWest products during the MoneySense session. In two of these visits there was no mention of shopping around.

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

Consumer champion Which? stresses that, when it works well, the provision of an impartial service is invaluable. Which? research shows that the majority of consumers (70%) have never spoken to a financial adviser, while two fifths (41%) would consider taking advice from friends and family when buying a financial product.

A quarter of people said they would not seek advice from anyone when sorting out their pension, and almost half (48%) would be most likely to seek mortgage advice from their bank.

Which? has called on NatWest to revisit the marketing of MoneySense and compare it with what is actually happening in some branches, and advises consumers using the service to shop around before taking out any NatWest products following a MoneySense session.

The consumer champion also urges the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to use the evidence from this investigation to help develop its own Money Guidance service, currently being piloted in the North West.