Santander is returning to the mass affluent advice market, with a new banking proposition for those with assets over £500,000 including a dedicated banker.
The bank has launched Santander Private, for customers with investments and savings of over £500,000 or an annual income of more than £250,000.
Clients will have access to a range of services across banking, lending, investing and financial planning and would have a dedicated private banker.
Charlotte Platts, head of Santander Private, said that the service was a natural progression of the bank’s wealth model.
She said this part of the business has "grown significantly" following the launch of an online investment hub last year, as well as Santander Select, which gives some wealthier clients access to financial planners.
“Santander’s move into the private banking sector has been driven by strong demand from clients, particularly from within our corporate bank, requiring tailored solutions that match their financial goals," Ms Platts added.
"Our priority is offering an exclusive, personal service that clients can trust – banking that looks after them.”
Santander's re-emergence in the advice market is part of a gradual return to advice for Britain’s high street banks, which pulled out of offering financial advice several years ago in the run up to the Retail Distribution Review, following concerns about quality and regulation.
Santander UK said in 2013 that it would stop offering investment advice to new customers following concerns over the quality of its advisers’ recommendations. The bank received a fine from the Financial Conduct Authority, which said it had uncovered “serious failings” with the advice given to customers.
However, some argue the high street banks have created an ‘advice gap’ by pulling out from serving mass market customers.
A significant review by the Financial Conduct Authority said last year that many people could not afford financial advice and do not have the expertise to invest, creating an advice gap.
As a result, the Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority changed the definition of “financial advice” to make it easier for high-street banks to offer cheaper and simpler services, including automated “robo-advice”.
Advisers have cautiously welcomed Santander's return to the advice market.
Philippa Gee, managing director at Philippa Gee Wealth Management, said; "I see this as a good move and presume that they will have the controls and processes in place to ensure good client outcomes.
"If it means that more people, who cling to only seeking the advice of their bank, will get advice, then it will be of merit.
"Of course we won’t really now how this will play out for some time, however I would see it as a positive move for Santander to build on the client base they already have."
Patrick Connolly, spokesperson for Chase de Vere added: "We are seeing an increasing number of companies that are combining advice or wealth management services with selling their own products, whether that is from banks, life assurance companies, platform providers or restricted financial advisers