Building Societies

What they are Many building societies have decided to take advantage of the freedom given them under the Building Societies Act 1986 to offer a much more extensive range of services than the ones they traditionally specialised in. They are still mainly providers of mortgages and deposit-type savings accounts. But their other activities also include selling and recommending life insurance and pensions - either the products of one company or on an independent basis.

What they offer Advice in connection with mortgages, including related life insurance and pensions, more general advice on, for example, life insurance and unit trusts, advice on their own products for example, a wide range of deposit-type savings schemes and certain pension products. Some also offer share dealing as agent for a stockbroker.

What they charge Usually nothing because the society gets commission from the company whose products it sells. If the society passes you on to another adviser - for example, a stockbroker - you pay that adviser's fees.

Who they are authorised by Usually the SIB. Note that activities such as mortgages (except for related life insurance and pensions), other loans, personal banking, and deposit-type savings schemes are outside the scope of the Financial Services Act.


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,... see: Banks


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