The Money Advice Service has been criticised for “sidestepping” advisers after it emerged that less than 1 per cent of consumers who visited its website in 2011/12 were referred to an adviser.
The MAS published its first annual review last week. It reveals that of a total of 1.1 million website users, the MAS referred around 3,000 people to regulated financial advisers between April 2011 and the end of March 2012, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of all website users.
Thameside Wealth director Tom Kean says he has found the MAS’s annuity comparison tables to be a good resource but is dismayed that consumers are being directed to providers’ websites.
He says: “It does not say anything about seeking advice that I can see and just sidesteps the benefits of using an adviser. It is a complete scandal. The fact that we are paying for this just rubs salt into the wound.”
Essential IFA managing director Peter Herd says: “The MAS should be required to signpost to advisers. The money we spend in funding the service is not being used to help IFAs at all. If consumers were being referred to advisers more often, that would also encourage advisers to promote the service.”
An MAS spokeswoman says: “We launched our more action-focused website in July, ensuring our advice and tools effectively signpost to other sources of help support people to take the next steps to manage their money better. We expect the number of people we refer to IFA portals to increase substantially as we ramp up the reach of our service.”
The MAS is funded by a statutory industry levy. Advisers contributed £46.3m out of the MAS’ total £86.8m budget for 2012/13.