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  • the annoyed customer
    • #2
    • 6th May 09, 3:28 PM
    • #2
    • 6th May 09, 3:28 PM
    This was the biggest scam ever. It was never going to be impartial, just an opportunity to sell products it was very blatent, and I'm not surprised at this has become the case. And they had the cheek to tell people at they HAD to go and have one. I refused but they insisted that I should have one, Luckly I never did.
    Last edited by the annoyed customer; 06-05-2009 at 3:31 PM.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 6th May 09, 3:38 PM
    • 98,305 Posts
    • 66,563 Thanks
    dunstonh
    • #3
    • 6th May 09, 3:38 PM
    • #3
    • 6th May 09, 3:38 PM
    About time too. We have seen posts on this forum by people that have been fooled by their impartial advice. In one case someone they used the term impartial to give the impression they were an IFA.

    Now if they can just get rid of those cringeworthy adverts as well.....
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
  • Blah99
    • #4
    • 6th May 09, 7:29 PM
    • #4
    • 6th May 09, 7:29 PM
    I know it's terribly unfashionable to expect people to take responsibility for themselves, rather than accept whatever information is doled out to them then blame someone else.

    But why are people surprised that a bank's advisors would push their own products? Does anyone honestly believe a bank would commit time, money and resources if they weren't going to make use of a captive audience in one of these reviews?

    Yes, fine, it's advertised as "impartial advice", but what does that mean in the real world? Little more than occasionally offering competing products to pay lip service to the claim, I suspect.

    It's no different to the "Fly to <insert chav-tastic destination> for only 1p" claims from low cost airlines. The claim is clearly 1p, but we all know it's going to be 50 by the time the fees, taxes, baggage charges etc are all added.

    If you go into PC World with a broken computer (god help you, you've already failed the intelligence test), you don't expect them to say "oh just take it to the shop down the road, they'll give you a more appropriate service". No, you expect them to say "our in house school dropouts, with precisely 47 minutes of training, will fix your PC in no less than 4 months and for the very reasonable cost of a thousand quid".

    NatWest simply deserve to get a rap on the knuckles for this, and nothing more.

    If a proper IFA did it (ie: pushed a specific product, regardless of appropriateness, so they could get a special wedge of comission), that would be serious. The difference is that an IFA has the presumption of special knowledge. In other words, when someone goes to see an independent financial adviser, they expect to get impartial advice that crosses different products and options from different providers.

    You've got to be a moron to believe any business, in financials or otherwise, won't push their own products.

    Perhaps people should take more personal responsibility for their money. Perhaps, when they walk out of a MoneySense review, they might wonder to themselves, "hey, that was a bit odd, I only heard NatWest/RBS products mentioned in there". Perhaps they might want to go and check out the other options for themselves, because it's their money and they might want to take an interest in it. Perhaps they might take 10% of the effort they use on memorising football scores and put it towards reading up on a few financial options.

    Or perhaps they want to complain and get com-pen-say-shun.
    Mmmm, credit crunch. Tasty.
    • daveyjp
    • By daveyjp 6th May 09, 7:31 PM
    • 8,015 Posts
    • 6,590 Thanks
    daveyjp
    • #5
    • 6th May 09, 7:31 PM
    • #5
    • 6th May 09, 7:31 PM
    The Natwest impartial advice to a colleague was to add the last 12 months of their car payment to their mortgage which has 15 years to run.

    She never did get out of them how much interest she would have paid over 15 years on the 1800 she would have borrowed.
  • simon templar
    • #6
    • 6th May 09, 7:59 PM
    • #6
    • 6th May 09, 7:59 PM
    Natwest giving out advice, lol they could not run their own affairs properly, tax payer bail out!
  • ShelfStacker
    • #7
    • 6th May 09, 8:06 PM
    • #7
    • 6th May 09, 8:06 PM
    I know it's terribly unfashionable to expect people to take responsibility for themselves, rather than accept whatever information is doled out to them then blame someone else.

    But why are people surprised that a bank's advisors would push their own products? Does anyone honestly believe a bank would commit time, money and resources if they weren't going to make use of a captive audience in one of these reviews?

    Yes, fine, it's advertised as "impartial advice", but what does that mean in the real world? Little more than occasionally offering competing products to pay lip service to the claim, I suspect.

    It's no different to the "Fly to <insert chav-tastic destination> for only 1p" claims from low cost airlines. The claim is clearly 1p, but we all know it's going to be 50 by the time the fees, taxes, baggage charges etc are all added.

    If you go into PC World with a broken computer (god help you, you've already failed the intelligence test), you don't expect them to say "oh just take it to the shop down the road, they'll give you a more appropriate service". No, you expect them to say "our in house school dropouts, with precisely 47 minutes of training, will fix your PC in no less than 4 months and for the very reasonable cost of a thousand quid".

    NatWest simply deserve to get a rap on the knuckles for this, and nothing more.
    Originally posted by Blah99
    You know, I thanked this before I fully read it. And I only just picked up the subtext - "it's OK if companies make baseless claims about the stuff they sell, because you should know better than to believe it". That's rubbish. The whole reason the ASA exists is to stop that sort of thinking even being necessary - the problem with a misleading advert isn't the person who reads it, it's the advert!

    In this case, NatWest need to get hauled over the coals. It's hardly victimless - many people probably made complex and important decisions on the back of what they were told by people they had been led to believe were impartial. And the people who believed that weren't stupid or naive, they simply believed that what was advertised was true.
  • the annoyed customer
    • #8
    • 6th May 09, 8:11 PM
    • #8
    • 6th May 09, 8:11 PM
    And the people who believed that weren't stupid or naive, they simply believed that what was advertised was true.
    Originally posted by ShelfStacker
    No offence but to say that is short sighted as well. As people should be media savvey and as one of NatWest's targets I say its pretty blatent what the advice was going to be. People should realise at a bank is like a shop- it wants to sell you things
  • Myrmidon_J
    • #9
    • 6th May 09, 8:12 PM
    • #9
    • 6th May 09, 8:12 PM

    This was the biggest scam ever.
    by the annoyed customer
    Agreed!


    Now if they can just get rid of those cringeworthy adverts as well...
    by dunstonh



    But why are people surprised that a bank's advisors would push their own products?
    by Blah99
    I am not in the least bit surprised. Such behaviour is exactly what I expect from NatWest, or indeed, from any of the major banks.

    My major issue is that this is packaged and presented, through a national advertising campaign, and in branch, as "impartial" advice. It is an absolute joke.


    NatWest simply deserve to get a rap on the knuckles for this, and nothing more.
    I strongly disagree.

    If the independent investigation finds that the results of the 'mystery shop' style surveys conducted by Money Marketing and Which? are representative of the quality of "impartial advice" provided by the bank, they deserve to be punished severely.

    Hopefully, this will deter the other major players from playing a similar deceit. A recent survey indicated that most of the major high street players saw 'advice' as a major growth area. I think this is extremely bad news for the consumer.

    And I await the results of the investigation with interest!


    Perhaps they might take 10% of the effort they use on memorising football scores and put it towards reading up on a few financial options.
    Different strokes for different folks. There's no need to be condescending. One of the reasons that clients pay for financial advice is that they are not then required to master the markets, or keep track of the myriad number of financial products and services available.

    I'd not perform open heart surgery on myself, or my nearest and dearest - I'd trust a professional. But I think that NatWest, by their conduct, have devalued the concept of 'advice'.
    For the avoidance of doubt: I work for an IFA.
  • ShelfStacker
    No offence but to say that is short sighted as well. As people should be media savvey and as one of NatWest's targets I say its pretty blatent what the advice was going to be. People should realise at a bank is like a shop- it wants to sell you things
    Originally posted by the annoyed customer
    You miss the obvious point that the fact that people - many people, and the most vulnerable - aren't media savvy is the reason we have an ASA, and the reason why NatWest should be punished. Yes, people should read more into what they are told, but that is no excuse to actively mislead them.
  • 456789
    Heh I said this when they first advertised it
  • *MF*
    Where sits the FSA in this?
    This from the ASA website:

    Financial advertising in the UK is regulated by both statute and the advertising codes. Non-broadcast ads for financial services and products including those for investment opportunities, mortgages, general insurance, savings and bank accounts are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Complaints about misleading claims in these types of ads should be directed to the FSA.

    From here:

    http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/focus/background_briefings/Financial+Advertising.htm

    This from the FSA web site:

    Firms advertising financial products or services must make sure their promotions are fair, clear and do not mislead you. Promotions can be:

    adverts in the media (eg radio, press, television);
    direct mail sent to your home;
    leaflets or posters;
    letters to customers;
    shop window advertising;
    telephone calls;
    text messages;
    teletext;
    emails; or
    websites.

    If we find that an advert is misleading we may do any of the following:

    ask it to change the advert;
    ask it to withdraw it;
    ask it to write to customers who may have been misled and offer redress if they’ve lost money as a result;
    give them a warning; or even
    fine them.

    From here:

    http://www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk/about_the_fsa/advertising/financial_advertising.html

    ***************************

    Given the above - Could someone clarify for me why the ASA (who I believe to be a non-statutory body) is taking the lead role in this, and not the FSA (a statutory body)?

    TIA.
    If many little people, in many little places, do many little things,
    they can change the face of the world.

    - African proverb -
  • ShelfStacker
    Given the above - Could someone clarify for me why the ASA (who I believe to be a non-statutory body) is taking the lead role in this, and not the FSA (a statutory body)?

    TIA.
    Originally posted by *MF*
    Because it was broadcast. "Non-broadcast ads for financial services... are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)."
  • *MF*
    So when - as above

    - the FSA publish how they deal with adverts
    - including TV and radio
    - namely broadcast adverts,
    - and go on to say what they will do if they find any misleading

    - none of that is other than totally misleading in itself, because being broadcast, it would in fact be the ASA????

    Or am I still not getting it?
    If many little people, in many little places, do many little things,
    they can change the face of the world.

    - African proverb -
  • the annoyed customer

    - none of that is other than totally misleading in itself, because being broadcast, it would in fact be the ASA????

    Or am I still not getting it?
    Originally posted by *MF*
    Probably find that the FSA will do something about the misleading advice but would rather leave the advertising to the ASA who have more authority in this department so to speak. And you'll probably find at more poeple complained to the ASA rather than the FSA so thats why the ASA is involved. Also its probably too late now for the FSA they can get it withdrawn but Natwest will still be let off so the ASA is involved as it can implicate a fine which according to your research the FSA can't.
    Last edited by the annoyed customer; 07-05-2009 at 12:01 PM.
  • Blah99
    If the independent investigation finds that the results of the 'mystery shop' style surveys conducted by Money Marketing and Which? are representative of the quality of "impartial advice" provided by the bank, they deserve to be punished severely.

    Hopefully, this will deter the other major players from playing a similar deceit. A recent survey indicated that most of the major high street players saw 'advice' as a major growth area. I think this is extremely bad news for the consumer.
    Originally posted by Myrmidon_J
    You miss the obvious point that the fact that people - many people, and the most vulnerable - aren't media savvy is the reason we have an ASA, and the reason why NatWest should be punished. Yes, people should read more into what they are told, but that is no excuse to actively mislead them.
    I see the point you're making, but I don't think it holds up in the "real world". Take the example I gave of "flights for 1p". These are advertised daily, on TV and in newspapers etc. If we read the advert from a position of naievity, as you're advocating, then we'd all be incredibly shocked when our 1p flights cost us 50.

    Similarly I'd be astounded when my Big Mac doesn't look like it does in the adverts. Or how my new BMW Z4 doesn't turn me into an artist full of expression and freedom. Or, after liberally applying a can of Lynx deodorant, I'd sit there confused when a bevy of women didn't suddenly appear and fondle me.

    I'm being facetious, but you get my point. There is a general, common understanding that adverts and marketing is there to attract our attention and not to provide a rounded, balanced view of the truth. To say that the population simply switches off the reasoning part of their brain because oh-so-scary "financial stuff" is mentioned is just plain wrong. How can anyone possibly be considered "non media savvy" in this day and age?


    Different strokes for different folks. There's no need to be condescending. One of the reasons that clients pay for financial advice is that they are not then required to master the markets, or keep track of the myriad number of financial products and services available.
    Ah, but you hit the nail on the head there. You said "clients pay for financial advice", except nobody paid for MoneySense. It's free. If NatWest were charging people for this service and gave biased/wrong advice then that would be a serious issue, but that's not what happened.

    Forget about financials, banks and NatWest for a minute. If I tell you an organisation is giving away a service for free that others charge for, one of your first questions would be "why"? The answer is obvious. Why does Kellog send women in tight clothing to shopping centres to give out free samples? Because they want to attract attention to their product and gain market share through upsell. Surprise, that's what NatWest were doing. Except rather than women in tight shirts they sent Trevor, a 16 stone work experience kid from Grimsby.

    I'd not perform open heart surgery on myself, or my nearest and dearest - I'd trust a professional. But I think that NatWest, by their conduct, have devalued the concept of 'advice'.
    You might not perform surgery, fair enough. But then maybe you'd fix their computer if it broke, rather than taking it to a "professional".

    NatWest haven't devalued "advice", they've reinforced how marketing works. It's reminded everyone that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

    Just to clarify, I'm not on NatWest's side here - what they did was wrong. I just don't think they deserve the kicking everyone seems to want to give them (wonder how much of that is a hangover from the current economic climate and kick-a-banker week).
    Mmmm, credit crunch. Tasty.
    • dunstonh
    • By dunstonh 7th May 09, 8:09 PM
    • 98,305 Posts
    • 66,563 Thanks
    dunstonh
    but you hit the nail on the head there. You said "clients pay for financial advice", except nobody paid for MoneySense. It's free.
    This comes back to perception though. A good number of people think the banks give free financial advice because they dont write a cheque out and pay for it. Even though its factored into the product charges.

    We have seen evidence of other parts of Natwest use the word impartial on the regulated financial advice side to give the false impression of independance. So, in effect, piggy backing sales of other products on, what is meant to be, a "Not for profit" service.
    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Comments are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
    • blueberrypie
    • By blueberrypie 7th May 09, 9:01 PM
    • 2,357 Posts
    • 5,197 Thanks
    blueberrypie
    I see the point you're making, but I don't think it holds up in the "real world". Take the example I gave of "flights for 1p". These are advertised daily, on TV and in newspapers etc. If we read the advert from a position of naievity, as you're advocating, then we'd all be incredibly shocked when our 1p flights cost us 50.

    Similarly I'd be astounded when my Big Mac doesn't look like it does in the adverts. Or how my new BMW Z4 doesn't turn me into an artist full of expression and freedom. Or, after liberally applying a can of Lynx deodorant, I'd sit there confused when a bevy of women didn't suddenly appear and fondle me.

    I'm being facetious, but you get my point. There is a general, common understanding that adverts and marketing is there to attract our attention and not to provide a rounded, balanced view of the truth. To say that the population simply switches off the reasoning part of their brain because oh-so-scary "financial stuff" is mentioned is just plain wrong. How can anyone possibly be considered "non media savvy" in this day and age?
    Originally posted by Blah99
    I don't think it's about being "non media savvy"; it's about feeling intimidated. Mr Average Bloke goes and buys a deodorant on the basis of what it smells like - he knows how to smell things, he knows what he thinks smells good. And hey, if it turns out that the deodorant he chooses doesn't work very well, he's only spent a couple of pounds. Buying the wrong car might cost him a lot more than that, of course, but a new car comes with a warranty, so at least he knows that if his engine dies after six months, he's covered. That's probably the biggest reason people choose to buy a new car: less risk.

    Money stuff, on the other hand...well, the majority of people really don't understand a lot of it - and to be honest, I can understand why. How many people who don't work in financial services understand the difference between APR and AER? And there's a lot to understand: loans, mortgages, savings, investments, ISAs, pensions...every one of them with lots of information to understand, lots of choices to be made. Put all that together and lots of people won't understand if or why they're better off with their money in an ISA at 3% or paying down their 4% mortgage or getting a regular saver at 7%...

    And then there's the fact that mortgages and loans and pensions are about far bigger sums than that can of deodorant or even cars - it's no wonder people get scared of making mistakes. Getting it wrong on a mortgage might make the difference between keeping your home and losing it - of course people worry. And they worry about switching banks - if you buy your lunch in the burger joint next door and it turns out to be horrible, well, it's one lunch, you can always to to the pizza place across the street next time. Moving to a new bank isn't so straightforward - changing where your salary goes, getting new cards and chequebooks, getting your direct debits and standing orders moved over - there's a lot more to think about, a lot more to worry about going wrong.

    Then factor in that banks have, for a very long time, promoted themselves as reliable, as honourable institutions, something you can trust. People often bank with the same bank their parents used - because it's what they know, it's what they trust. They don't view advertising from banks in the same way they do advertising from McDonalds - when it's from a bank, people see it as information.

    The fact is that for a sizeable percentage of the population, the financial stuff *is* "oh-so-scary", and they do feel the need for someone to advise them and reassure them. And banks do a very good job of playing on that need. When the bank advisor says, "here's a way for you to save for your retirement", most people will trust that the advisor knows what's best.
  • Blah99
    Last post on the topic.

    Money stuff, on the other hand...well, the majority of people really don't understand a lot of it - and to be honest, I can understand why. How many people who don't work in financial services understand the difference between APR and AER? And there's a lot to understand: loans, mortgages, savings, investments, ISAs, pensions...every one of them with lots of information to understand, lots of choices to be made. Put all that together and lots of people won't understand if or why they're better off with their money in an ISA at 3% or paying down their 4% mortgage or getting a regular saver at 7%...
    This absolutely reinforces what I've said in post after post, after post. People need to take responsibility for their own finances.

    People can understand statistics when it's applied to football. People can strip and rebuild car engines. People can remember maths exercises and tables when they go scuba diving.

    Yet the same people throw their hands up and shake their heads at "financial stuff".

    If you have a very basic grasp of maths and you can read coherent English, there is nothing preventing you from understanding how financial products work. I'm not expecting everyone to spend months learning how to be an IFA. I'm just expecting that, before someone signs on the dotted line for a 200k debt as a mortgage, they've spent a few hours reading up how mortgages work, what the options are etc.

    Similarly, if they've got some money they want to save, they can look on the internet and find out where the best deals are. There are well known, respected websites that are easy to find and follow. I've even heard of a forum that helps people out with these questions, it's called moneysaving something... :rolleyes:

    It's all a question of motivation. For me, as it's my money and I worked hard to earn it, I'm quite happy to put some time into managing it properly. If other people would rather learn who scored goals in the cup finals between 1965 and 1983, good luck to them, it's their choice not to take their finances seriously.

    Note, the option of going to an IFA and paying for advice is also valid, but, as I said, Moneysense was free. It was the easy option, not the sensible one.
    Mmmm, credit crunch. Tasty.
    • dacouch
    • By dacouch 8th May 09, 8:01 PM
    • 20,693 Posts
    • 12,824 Thanks
    dacouch
    Moneysense is free as Natwest has a profit margin built into their own products they sell and no doubt a commission built in for the salesman.

    An IFA will also receive a commission for selling a product which is normally built into the price of the product. Some IFAs give you the option of paying a set fee and they will rebate thie commission.

    The example you give could also be applied to a double glazing salesman coming around to your house to give you a "Free" survey to see if your home is suitable for double glazing etc. He can say his advice is impartial on the same basis Nat West do as well and then sell you double glazing.
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