Santander accused of stealing broker business with life insurance promotion
Santander risks angering brokers by sending mortgage customers emails promoting its life insurance service, whether they went through the adviser channel or not.
The customers are being sent the emails based on their recorded marketing preferences, which promote Santander’s life insurance package in conjunction with Aviva.
Alan Lakey, director of CIExpert, said: “This a breach of trust if the client was introduced by an adviser and in that instance I stop dealing with them.
“I know the old argument that not enough people are insured etcetera, but it is a blatant attempt to maximise their income at the expense of the adviser.
“If a lender wishes to encourage advisers to use it for mortgage lending, they should refrain from trying to steal their business.”
Lakey accepted that there are instances where customers being contacted for protection ends with a good result for them, if the adviser hasn’t done their job sufficiently.
But he added: “Let’s imagine Santander wrote to the client prior to the adviser doing anything.
“That client goes to Aviva and the end result is there’s not been any choice or consideration of what the best critical illness product is.”
David Hollingworth, director of communications at L&C Mortgages, reckoned the timing is key when lenders are contacting advisers’ customers, but he disagreed that they shouldn’t do so at all.
He said: “Timing is important here and advisers wouldn’t expect emails to land as soon as an application has been received, potentially disrupting protection advice that’s already underway.”
But he added: “Advisers will always prefer lenders to acknowledge their role in placing the mortgage and potentially even point customers back in their direction.
“However, the client is a customer of Santander as well as the broker and so I’m not convinced we can expect for there to be zero communication at any time, especially as customers will opt in to receive promotional emails.”
All in all, he said this debate underlines why it’s crucial for advisers to have a conversation with their customers about protection. That way they understand the value of advice and don’t have their heads turned by promotional emails that hit their inboxes.
Mark Dyason, director of Edinburgh Mortgage Advice and Thistle Finance, admitted he didn’t like it but agreed that lenders are well within their rights to market to advisers’ customers.
He said: “I don’t think the lender has done anything wrong, but do I like it? No.”
He added: “In my view if the adviser has done their job properly people will ignore adverts like that.
“Somebody responding to something like that would have responded to an advert on TV.”
Kevin Carr, chief executive of the Protection Review, seemed to think there’s a grey area regarding whether lenders should contact brokers’ customers.
He added: “I think it’s becoming an understandably tricky situation for companies with multiple business lines who have both direct and intermediated sales.
“If a customer ticks the box saying ‘it’s okay to contact me’, then in theory it’s okay to contact them.
“But on the other hand, companies should also respect the relationships advisers have with their clients.”
A Santander spokeswoman said: “We only send marketing material to those customers who have provided their contact details and consent to receive such material in line with the rules and guidance set by the ICO.
“Brokers always have the option to select customer marketing preferences within our application process.”