NatWest to provide impartial advice in branch

From tomorrow NatWest will be offering free impartial financial skills advice to consumers - regardless of their bank.

Via its MoneySense service NatWest will provide independently trained advisers in 1,000 NatWest branches across the country.

The bank says the money guidance available is not linked to sales of products and is completely impartial.

To further ensure impartiality, NatWest is strengthening the MoneySense advisory board by inviting influential leaders from educational organisations, charities and other independent bodies to participate.

Through 2009 Royal Bank of Scotland Group will invest an additional £4m in MoneySense.

Consumer Credit Counselling Service has been working with NatWest to provide training to 1,000 advisers from the bank’s customer service officers who are not linked to selling products.

They are now qualified to advise on basic budgets and budgeting skills, savings plans, help with prioritising outgoings and expenses and to provide general, impartial guidance on how financial products work.

The UK-wide launch builds on a successful MoneySense project completed in Manchester in May 2008 and a pilot in five branches in London over the last eight weeks.

The pilot saw advisers offering money guidance to hundreds of customers ranging from students to families and business people.

The MoneySense advisers were nominated for the roles by their region, based on their exceptional service-oriented skills.

NatWest says these roles are completely focused on helpful guidance and are not linked to endorsing or selling products.

Gordon Pell, chairman of regional markets at RBS Group, says: “During the pilots most people told us that they would look for help at their bank and with over two million people coming into our branches each week, this environment seems a natural fit for the MoneySense adviser service.

“Our customers want back-to-basics banking, building on traditional relationships with local branches, and access to impartial advice, helping them navigate their way through the challenges of the current economic climate.”

Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, adds: “There are times in life when everybody needs free, accessible and impartial financial guidance.

“Bank branches are the traditional trusted source and we welcome the opportunity to be part of RBS/NatWest’s groundbreaking initiative.”