BANK tellers can no longer refer customers to sales representatives and financial institutions will have to verify customers' knowledge and experience before selling them certain investment products.

They are two of the key rule changes the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will implement to improve safeguards for investors.

Proposals which do not require legislative amendments will be implemented first.

An MAS spokesman said that financial institutions are expected to adopt the remaining proposals even before legislative implementation - as good practice in conducting business with their customers. It is targeting all legislative amendments to be effected by the end of next year.

The measures, which are the outcome of a public consultation process, are in response to the huge losses suffered by thousands of investors who bought products linked to the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers.

An investigation by MAS that followed the Lehman scandal found that several financial institutions had failed in a number of areas, including giving structured products a lower risk rating than was warranted and allowing improperly trained sales staff to sell investments to unwary customers.

Safeguards for investors