Following its decision to stop giving retail customers investment advice, last week Santander became the latest bank to announce huge job cuts. Initial reports suggest that around 720 people could lose their jobs as part of the re-structure.
It would appear that existing investors will be looked after by an in-house financial planning arm, as alluded to by a Santander spokesman who said: “Santander UK will continue to provide advice to existing customers with maturing investments. We will also continue to explore how and to whom we can provide face-to-face advice, within the new regulatory framework, in a way that benefits and protects customers, our colleagues and indeed Santander itself.”
FSA figures show that the number of bank and building society advisers has fallen by around 44 per cent from an estimated 8,658 in 2011 to 4,809 on the first day the RDR was introduced this January.
This is a worrying trend because people still need financial advice, especially when the stock markets have been so variable in their returns over the last five years. Whether someone has invested in a cash ISA, an investment ISA, a pension plan or a managed portfolio with their bank or building society, now is not the time to sit back and let things tick along.
With interest rates remaining at historical lows and the general ‘doom and gloom’ economic reporting continuing in the media it can seem like a minefield trying to ensure that your money maintains its real value by keeping up with inflation.
Hence my feeling that the need for face-to-face advice is of paramount importance. There are options that could and should be considered by savers and investors of all types, whether it’s for £5,000 or £500,000, the need for impartial whole of market advice is clear.
Certainly when we speak to our clients, people generally prefer a clear and honest face to face meeting which tends to be much more interactive than one conducted over the airwaves.