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Starling Bank declines IFAs without explanation

Starling Bank declines IFAs without explanation

Starling Bank has started declining business from regulated financial services companies, without explaining why.

Charlotte Wood, director of Rosewood Financial Planning, received an email from the challenger bank turning away her business application to the bank.

The letter said: "Unfortunately we no longer offer business banking facilities to regulated financial services businesses."

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Posting the email on Twitter, Wood asked for an explanation about why Starling had adopted this policy.

Starling's Twitter response was: "Hi there, we are sorry about this but we are afraid this is how we are currently operating on this front."

The digital bank was launched in 2014 focusing on current and business accounts.

According to its website, the bank was born out of a "desire to create a new kind of bank" and to make banking "more inclusive".

Fellow advisers shared similar stories of having been turned away from Starling.

Jane King, financial adviser for Ash-Ridge Financial Planning, said: "I got this message too".

Alasdair Walker, who said he has all his personal bank banking with Starling Bank, also asked for an answer and received the same message from Twitter.

Similarly, Jiten Varsani, mortgage and protection planner for London Money, said: "Me too. Declined application. Same message."

Wood asked the Starling Twitter account for more information, as to why she was turned away.

Wood said: "Many advisers are affiliates of Starling Bank and direct pipelines of business to you because you are perceived as modern and forward-thinking".

"It would be a shame for you to turn the entire financial advice community away."

However, Starling's response was: "Hi Charlotte, we are afraid that we cannot elaborate more on this front but we will definitely share updates in case of future changes."

Ivor Harper, director of Park Financial, tweeted: "You most certainly can elaborate. You just choose not to. I accept it is a business right to say 'thanks but no thanks' to any customer. 

"If I were a bank I would't want an IFA business either, but at least have the integrity to be honest about it."

Ms Wood indicated she was set to "move her entire family's banking away from them. What an unnecessary inconvenience."

A spokesperson for Starling Bank later commented: "We’re seeing growing numbers of applications for our free business current account from complex businesses, including from regulated financial services businesses that move client money through their accounts.

"Our accounts do not meet all the needs of all of these businesses, so we cannot accept applications from them at present. We’re putting in place the appropriate services for client money accounts as well as enhanced onboarding and other checks that will allow us to widen the scope of who we can provide banking services to.