Banks 'misleading savers' over investments

We expect Britain's high street banks to offer good, sensible advice on savings and investments but an undercover investigation found that many are "misleading" customers.

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The banking system has already been slammed recently over the bailout (funded by the taxpayer), huge bonuses and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance and now the investigation by Panorama looks likely to further fuel consumer anger.

The programme, due to air tonight on BBC1, suggests financial advisers within the banks are offered incentives to try and lure customers into investment schemes that are far from safe.

Though many consumers may be better off keeping their savings in a standard deposit account, low interest rates mean many are seeking a better return on their money... and the banks appear to be taking full advantage.

Two undercover investigators, posing as investors, were sent to seek advice from financial advisers in the big high street banks.

Advisers at RBS and HSBC piled the pressure on by suggesting the customer invest quickly or lose out, an adviser at Lloyds TSB was said to be "too quick and confusing" when explaining annual charges (which could knock thousands off their investment) and was "misleading" when he said the two per cent annual fee was "market-leading".

Meanwhile an RBS adviser was recorded saying of a proposed £50,000 investment, "at no stage can you lose that money. It simply can't happen."

Panorama's experts were reportedly impressed by advisers at Co-op and Santander but suggested that incentives may be turning advisers into "glorified sales people".

Eric Leenders, from the British Bankers' Association, responded by saying: "They give a lot of financial advice and support to people who perhaps are not quite confident enough to step into the market on their own."

Panorama - Can You Trust Your Bank? will be broadcast today on BBC1 at 8.30pm.

What do you think? Do you put your trust in the advice of your high street bank? Leave a comment below...