Banks

Who they are All the major High Street banks offer investment advice, either through their branch network, or through connected companies.

Some offer independent advice, some are tied to a particular company for the purpose of selling life insurance and pensions. Others manage to offer both types of advice by having a 'tied' branch network but an independent subsidiary which operates at arm's length from the branches.

What they offer Varies. This could include advice on the bank's own products, such as a wide range of deposit/savings accounts, life insurance, unit trusts, pensions, and Personal Equity Plans. Might offer independent advice, dealing service for, and maybe advice on, buying and selling shares, advice on tax and pensions, investment management service.

What they charge Usually nothing if you buy life insurance, pensions or unit trusts as the bank gets commission. Usually, normal stockbroking commissions for share dealing ), though rates and/or minimum commissions may be a bit lower than with traditional broking services. Either a flat fee or a half to one per cent a year of the value of your investments with an investment management service. There may be an extra charge for tax advice and help.

Who they are authorised by Depends which bank service you're dealing with. An insurance or unit trust arm will be authorised by LAUTRO and probably IMRO as well. An independent advice arm will usually be authorised through FIMBRA, and stockbroking services will require the bank to belong to TSA. Note that other bank services such as mortgages (other than related endowment insurance), personal banking, loans and deposit-type investments are outside the scope of the Financial Services Act.

WARNING Always check the .status of the particular bit .of

the bank or building society that you're dealing with. Some offer an independent investment advice service. But most banks and building societies now offer a 'tied' service through their branch networks. There may be a separate arm of the business which gives independent advice, but unless you have a lot to invest, you might not be steered towards the independent arm unless you make a point of asking about it.


Accountants

Who they are Not investment specialists, but they may offer investment advice as an adjunct to their main business, or might refer you to an investment specialist. All accountants must give independent advice.

What they offer Varies - for example, tax planning, advice on general investment strategy, sometimes investment management services, and contacts with specialists such as stockbrokers. Large firms, in particular, may offer a very comprehensive range of investment services through specialist in-house departments.

What they charge Usually their normal fees which are based... see: Accountants


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