Apfa: Guidance bodies should promote free adviser meetings

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Apfa has called on the Government’s new single guidance body to tell consumers that an initial conversation with an adviser is “always free”.

The Government said in October it would create a single organisation to deliver guidance on pensions, money and debt advice that will replace the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advice Service and Pension Wise.

In its response to the Government’s consultation on its plans, Apfa says a generic guidance service cannot replace “personal, targeted advice” and that the new body should work with other organisations to explain to consumers the options available to them.

Apfa also says the current MAS retirement adviser directory service should be taken over by the new guidance body.

The consultation response adds: “It should also be highlighted that the initial conversation with an adviser is always free as the first meeting is the opportunity to discuss and, if the service is wanted, agree the fee arrangement going forward.”

The MAS website makes it clear that “many” advisers offer an initial meeting free of charge.

It says: “This isn’t designed to give you specific advice about your situation. It’s a chance to see how they work, how much they charge and to get a sense of whether you feel comfortable with them.”

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Comments

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  1. The fundamental yet still uncorrected problem with the MAS is that its very name firmly and unequivocally implies that it’s a free (to consumers) source of the very commodity that it cannot. Amongst the tons of statistical data that it gathers and proudly trumpets to the media, a key omission is the number of callers who start off saying: I need advice on… only to be told: We don’t give advice, leading to the inevitable question: Then why are you called the Money ADVICE Service? The MAS should be forced to:-

    1. Change its name to what it should have been called in the first place, namely the Money Guidance Service,

    2. Make plain the source of its funding and

    3. As a body funded predominantly by the regulated advice community, its primary function, in addition to providing information and guidance, is to educate people in the value of engaging with that community.

    Mis-naming it and dressing it up as a government-funded body from which is advice is freely available to all and sundry when it fundamentally isn’t is unfair on the advice profession, misleading to consumers and, all in all, just a mendacious con trick.

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