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Advisers challenge MAS over directory criteria

The Money Advice Service will struggle to establish a fair set of criteria for its retirement adviser directory, advisers have warned.

Last week, the MAS revealed it is looking to launch a retirement adviser directory to help boost referrals from its service to advisers.

Under the proposals, firms listed in the directory must be willing to advise on pension pots of any size. They must also have an “appropriate specialism”, for example, conducting a certain level of retirement planning business.

The MAS also suggests advisers should hold additional qualifications or have an accreditation to a relevant body.

Apfa director general Chris Hannant has hit out at the proposals, claiming the MAS is veering into “dangerous” territory by appearing to set standards beyond FCA requirements. 

He says: “It is dangerous for the MAS to set itself up to judge which firms are fit to advise on certain areas. That is not its job. It is the FCA’s job and the MAS should not be going anywhere near that, especially when it expects to raise money from all advisers.

“If the MAS tries to be a regulator, not only will take-up of the directory be low but it will not be able to justify funding from the whole advice sector.”

Evolve Financial Planning director Jason Witcombe says: “Judging which advisers are specialists in a certain area is very subjective.

“The MAS could use purely qualifications-based criteria, for instance, but it is not its role to decide whether chartered status or other qualifications are the right benchmark. There is a serious risk that consumers would see this as a kitemark of competence, given that the MAS was set up by the Government.”

The MAS says the exact criteria for inclusion in the directory will be agreed by a panel, which would include industry and consumer representatives. 

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says: “The MAS is not seeking to set standards beyond FCA requirements. However, in order for consumers to be assured that advisers in the directory are truly retirement specialists, some sort of entry criteria must be established.”



Pete Matthew, managing director, Jacksons Wealth Management

It will be very difficult for the MAS to select a fair criteria. I cannot think of a way it could convincingly come up with an approved list of firms – if you base it on exams then that fails to take account of advisers’ experience.


Peter Chadborn, director, Plan Money

It is not healthy for the industry to criticise the MAS at such an early stage in its plans.  Referrals from the MAS to advisers have clearly not worked well in the past. So if the MAS is trying something new and believes that specialisms is the way to engage consumers, then it is incumbent on advisers to work with the MAS to try and make this a success.


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Surely any appointment of an adviser should be and must be made by the consumer ?

    Any kind of witling or watering down of numbers with criteria based selection by the MAS is wrong !

    I have no argument that the MAS provide said client, with guidance on what kind of things consumers need to be aware of to ensure the advice they are getting is from a regulated adviser with the appropriate qualifications etc etc etc

  2. Is it any of the MAS’s business to create a directory at all, let alone decide the criteria by which firms shall or shan’t qualify for inclusion on it? Why not just advise customers to seek out a few local advisers and satisfy themselves as to which of them are able to meet their needs at an acceptable price?

  3. Initially the MAS were sure they could deal with all enquiries through their own services. Is it not rediculous that only when it is explained to them the MAS see that retirement advice needs professional qualified people.
    Now that they have appreciated this they wish to impose all sorts of criteria which they wiil insist the introduced Adviser needs to meet.
    This is one extreme to another and shows they do not even Know what and how an IFA operates.
    This again proves that they do not know how to deal with the issues that some how or other they have been given responsibility for!
    Any IFA business could not survive on this form so why should the MAS.
    They should be kicked into touch as incompitent.

  4. How can MAS avoid any accusation of BIAS if they do not simply show FACTS.

  5. Peter Chadborn states that ‘….it is incumbent on advisers to work with the MAS’ I’m sorry Peter I could not disagree with you more. MAS was created because of the hole in the provision of advice created by the RDR that so many of us warned the Regulator about before it was thrust upon us. Furthermore we pay for the blooming MAS and if there was any issue of incumbency, I would say its the other way around! Apart from that have a successful day 🙂

  6. To gain an insight into the level of inteligence within the MAS one only has to view any of their TV adverts.

  7. I agree with the sentiments expressed above. How can MAS deem themselves the correct authority to be recommending what kind of adviser the public chooses to visit. Beyond telling the public that they should be looking for a pension adviser that is authorised and regulated by the FCA they shouldn’t be doing anything of the sort.

    Where does it stop for them? Telling the public independent is better than restricted? Telling them an adviser with 20 years experience is better than one with 15 years? Whether an adviser is qualified to give retirement/pension advice specific to an individual client is not under MAS’s remit.

  8. I think it is awfully good of MAS to take over from the Government on providing advice /guidance on pensions. After all they have had decades of experience – although poor results. Would YOU trust a government department ( or offshoot ) to advise YOU on YOUR pension ? I don’t think so !

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