Money Advice Service chief executive Caroline Rookes has promised its review of recommendations published by Christine Farnish will be “open and transparent”.
Earlier today, the Farnish report recommended that the MAS budget for consumer education be halved, while the body should also face a substantial reorganisation.
The MAS has pledged to investigate the findings before reporting back to the Treasury in the Autumn, but critics have described the plans as the equivalent of “asking a school child to mark their own homework”.
Rookes says the MAS will create a “challenge panel” to review its work, comprising financial services firms, representatives from the charity sector and advisers.
She says: “We plan to do this as a very open and transparent piece of work, and we will work very closely with our stakeholders.
“All the organisations that we work closely with I would anticipate being represented. They can challenge the work we are doing, and any conclusions we might be reaching.”
MAS will be seeking to create the panel as soon as possible, Rookes adds, with initial work beginning on the review next week.
One topic unlikely to be breached in the early days of the review is Farnish’s recommendation that the MAS budget for “money advice” be slashed to half its existing size of £43m.
Rookes says MAS will only be able to reach an opinion on costs when it has evaluated how it will perform in a renewed structure.
She says: “We need to look very closely at the extent to which the market does provide impartial advice, and the extent to which we can operate as a standard setter than a direct deliverer.
“[Farnish] is recommending we take a more active and strategic role in education for example, and that’s a new role for us and that is going to require additional resources. But it’s impossible to see until we have performed some additional work.”
Fundamentally, however, Rookes says she is happy the Farnish report concluded there is a future need for MAS in both its debt advice and consumer education divisions.
“The report concludes that MAS has two very important functions,” Rookes says. “That to me is confirmation that there is a future for MAS.”