Banks are failing to provide the correct advice about Isas

We investigated banks and building societies to test their knowledge of the cash Isa transfer rules.
We found that:

  • Only 16 of the 180 advisers gave fully correct answers to all of our questions.
  • Only 28 of the 180 advisers gave a full, correct explanation of the rules on how much you can transfer.
  • Several advisers, including from RBS, Lloyds TSB, Natwest and Yorkshire Bank, suggested that our callers should withdraw money from their cash Isa in order to transfer it – this is wrong as your savings would lose their tax-free status.
  • In more than a third of calls, advisers were not aware that you could transfer from a cash Isa to a stocks and shares Isa, however this has been possible since 2008.
  • The guideline for completing a cash Isa transfer is now 15 days however, less than half of the advisers mentioned this 15 day timeframe, and the timescales outlined by many providers ranged from immediately to six weeks.
  • Out of 180 calls, 12 advisers gave incorrect information about the Isa allowance – one of the most basic facts about cash Isas.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:
“Banks and building societies are still falling short when it comes to providing basic information over the phone about cash Isa transfers. Without reliable advice, customers could be put off from moving their money or worse still lose out as a result of misleading information.  We want to see better training for frontline staff as part of the big change that’s needed in banking, so that banks put customers first.”

1. In January 2013, 12 undercover Which? researchers called 180 advisers at 15 different banks.
2. We asked three key questions about Isa transfers per call and then evaluated the accuracy of advisers’ responses to form an overall score.
3. We spoke to staff at:
NS&I, Santander, Co-Operative, Aldermore, Nationwide, Post office, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Natwest, Leeds BS, Barclays, First Direct, RBS, Yorkshire Bank, HSBC.

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