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'Unbiased advice' from Bendigo's new-look planning arm

27 July 2006 |Media centre

Financial planning customers will be sure of receiving unbiased advice under new arrangements announced today by Bendigo Bank.

In the most far-reaching change, Bendigo’s planners will not be eligible for payments based on sales.

Chief General Manager Solutions, Marnie Baker, said customer choice and fee transparency would be the focus of Bendigo’s new-look planning arm, Bendigo Financial Planning, to be launched on Monday.

“Customers will be in control of their fees and the level of advice and service they require from us,” Ms Baker said.

“They can choose up-front advice only, or advice plus ongoing service.

“And they can elect how they wish to pay – either direct fees or through a commission paid to the bank by the product provider.

“Either way, customers know exactly how much they pay and their fees will be capped at pre-agreed levels.”

Ms Baker said removing sales-based incentives for planners dealt with the biggest complaint the industry has faced – that people haven’t been certain the planning advice they receive is unbiased.

“Our customers will know that’s the case because their planner does not stand to benefit from the recommendation he or she makes.

“We believe this sets new standards of openness and transparency. It is the level of trust that customers would expect from the Bendigo Bank brand.”

Ms Baker said Bendigo Financial Planning’s planners and associate planners would be paid a salary without commission.

“They will be eligible to participate in the same staff bonus scheme that applies to all other Bendigo Bank staff.

“This will give customers confidence and will better align our planning arm with the banking business from which they receive many of their referrals.

“When customers come to Bendigo Bank, they will receive the right attention from the right person at the right time. Often this will relate only to their banking, but when appropriate we will recommend they speak with a planner.”

Customers may choose to receive and pay for just initial advice, or they can select from one of three ongoing service agreements with tiered fees.

“Ours is a value-for-money proposition where the customer is in charge,” Ms Baker said.

Bendigo Financial Planning is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bendigo Bank and replaces the former Bendigo Investment Services.

Bendigo Financial Planning has 52 planner positions and currently supports 11 associate planners.

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