The consumer group called “Which?” is making some pretty strong allegations based on their recent undercover investigation. They sent nine researchers out into the filed to visit 37 High Street banks and building society branches across the UK.
All of the undercover researchers were over 60 and were inexperienced investors. What did they find? They found that High Street banks offer “shockingly” poor investment advice to inexperienced older investors.
The research documented that they lied to the potential investors about charges and offered risky and inappropriate investing advice.
They found that in 17 of the 37 cases, risky products were recommended. Which? said that,
“In the worst case one of our researchers was told by a Yorkshire Bank adviser to invest £50,000 in a bond netting more than £4,400 in commission.”
The executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said, “It’s shocking to see such low standards. It’s also disappointing to see that things haven’t improved in the past year, despite two high street banks being fined for advice failings and poor complaints handling.”
They are reported their findings to the Financial Services Authority and are asking for an investigation and punishment of those that showed the worst practices.
Mr. Lloyd said,
“We want the FSA’s Retail Distribution Review to force banks and building societies to be more upfront about the cost of their advice. We will also be talking to the banks and building societies about improving their standards. Our investigation shows that the High Street isn’t the best place to go for investment advice. If in doubt, consumers should always talk to an independent financial adviser.”