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Categories:Regulation

Advisers slam MAS 'free advice' marketing campaign

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Money Advice Service advert

Advisers have slammed the Money Advice Service’s latest marketing campaign for continuing to promote the idea of “free” advice.

This week, the MAS launched a six-week marketing campaign on television, in print and online with the tagline, What Does Ma Think?

The TV advertisements focus on life events, including buying a property, redundancy and everyday finances and started on Monday.

The previous ad campaign caused anger among advisers for sugesting the service offered “free, unbiased advice” which is a “breath of fresh air”. The new adverts promote the MAS’s “free and impartial” advice service and highlight the fact it was set up by the Government.

Essential IFA managing director Peter Herd says: “At present, the MAS is working as a competitor to the industry and is trying to undermine the independent financial advice sector by using the phrase ‘free and impartial financial advice’. The post-RDR world is meant to highlight the fact that there is no such thing as free financial advice.”

Prudent Financial Investments IFA Ned Naylor says: “There has never been adequate emphasis on directing individuals to a qualified IFAs, despite the fact it will be the best avenue for some consumers.”

The MAS plans to spend £19m of its £46.3m budget in 2012/13 on marketing and brand awareness. Last week, Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy criticised its “colossal” marketing spend.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “The MAS is symptomatic of a fundamental policy failure in terms of joined-up thinking between the FSA, the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver a coherent financial capability strategy.”

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Readers' comments (8)

  • This is a joke! They need to be FSA registered and qualified to give advice! Simple as! and just to add insult to injury, we are paying for this bunch of people!

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  • To add further insult the annuity comparison on MAS, both L&G and aviva offer better rates than we can access via assureweb.
    We have to pay a mandatory levy to provide a budget for TV adverts then we get providers offering direct deals at improved rates.

    makes you sick

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  • Perhaps even more dangerous than purporting to offer free advice is the continued message this kind of advertising campaign sends out that the Government is there to support people. People will not take responsibility for their own financial future when they still mistakenly believe the Government will take care of them no matter what.

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  • What is even funnier is one paper ran an article last week regarding RDR and how it will see the end of free financial advice!!!!!

    This just shows how ingrained it has become in our society that financial advice is somehow free and this advertising campaign will do nothing to dispel the myth!

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  • Agree this is a joke. However MAS do not advise on products or give recommendatons and the advice is purely generic. I do not have an issue for the word 'Advice' being used. The issue I see is unregulated comparison sites/tables and so call moneysavingexperts/journalists. Lets face it there is not much of a role left for one man band IFA's. NEST and RDR will only add to this.

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  • Yes, the advice the MAS gives is only generic but there have been several reports of presenters at MAS road shows "advising" attendees not to bother going to see an IFA because they/we charge lots of commission and/or fees ~ whereas, of course, what the MAS provides is FREE! Bastards.

    And Hector Sants had the gall to deny before the TSC that the FSA has any sort of prejudicial agenda against small IFA's.

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  • Julian - Anyone giving that sort of advice needs advice themselves! That commission /fees is what pays MAS!..So the better IFA's do the better for MAS and its fat paid useless money wasting service. The idea of the service should be to bring confidence back into financial services. Its a shame the service was not setup and run by IFA's after all they fund it. The Board should really consist of some members of the IFA community.

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  • On the one hand, we who are forced to fund this quango (under threat of confiscation of our livelihoods if we refuse) have to put up with the MAS talking about "free advice" and beating its chest about how it's been set up by the government.

    Then, on the other hand, we learn that the FSA plans to distribute via branches of the CAB (the primary function of which is to advise people who have money PROBLEMS, not money to invest) hundreds of thousands of leaflets highlighting the fact that financial advice (from anywhere but the MAS) ISN'T free and how AC is to replace commissions.

    A very definite connection between the two seems so obvious as to be beyond denial. So just where exactly is the line between generic advice and tailored advice? And in just what circumstances are people who've approached the MAS told that they need the latter (available only from an IFA) rather than the former (which is only generic)? Statistically, it seems, hardly ever.

    The (unofficial) position of the FSA/government appears to have become that generic advice that's "free" is better than individually tailored advice that cannot be. Is there any evidence at all that this is likely to lead to "better outcomes" for consumers? Or is it just another hunch on the part of the armchair theorists at Canary Wharf?

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