The Advertising Standards Authority will decide in the next week whether to investigate the Money Advice Service’s controversial TV ad following a flurry of complaints from advisers.
The ad, which began airing last month, features a voiceover claiming: “Our advice is independent and unbiased. Oh, and it is free. How is that for a breath of fresh air?”
It has prompted 41 complaints to the ASA, most of which have come from IFAs.
Many complaints centre on the name of the service, claiming the use of the word advice is misleading.
Complainants also object to claims that the advice is free and feel the references to “independent and unbiased advice” are misleading.
An ASA spokesman says: “A decision on whether or not to investigate has not been made as we are collating the nature of the complaints we have received.
“We have to assess each complaint on each individual point, which means the process is more protracted than it would normally be. We cannot say whether or not there is going to be an investigation at this stage but we should have a decision on this by the end of this week or the start of next.”
Evolve Financial Planning director Jason Witcombe says: “We need to be very careful with the word advice. Having an impartial place to go for factual information is fine but factual information is not advice. The use of the word unbiased feels a bit deliberate. I do not see why it cannot be called an information service.”
Baronworth Investment Services director Colin Jackson says: “As a principle, the MAS is a good idea but in practice the message is misleading. One wonders whether this would be allowed if an IFA was making similar claims.”
An MAS spokeswoman says: “We have not been contacted by the ASA about this matter, therefore we cannot comment at this stage.”