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Citizens Advice Bureau to continue MoneyPlan initiative

The Citizens Advice Bureau will continue to offer its MoneyPlan initiative following the success of a two-year pilot, which CAB says provided 1131 consumers with generic financial advice.

At an event to mark the end of the pilot today, independent evaluator Bob Widdowson said between May 2007 and March 2009, 36 volunteer IFAs helped consumers with their finances.

Pensions, savings and investments made up 35 per cent of the advice given, while information about mortgages made up 26 per cent. Sixty per cent of queries were about debt or benefits.

Widdowson says the initiative “reached people who could not afford access to independent financial advice”.

Under the initiative advice is given by volunteer IFAs who are members of the Personal Finance Society and are qualified to diploma level.

Origen private client manager Liz Webb, who is a volunteer MoneyPlan IFA, said as it is an unregulated service the advisers work within strict parameters.

She said: “We give information that helps consumers understand financial services, we do not sell products and there is no bias towards any particular providers.

“It is a chance for IFAs to give something back professionally and it might help to raise trust and confidence in the advice sector, which has taken a knock recently.”

However Webb said the service should not be referred to as “generic financial advice”.

She said: “We’re talking to people about their options, so generic financial information might be a better phrase.”

PFS chief executive Fay Goddard said MoneyPlan and the FSA’s Money Guidance initiative are completely different services.

She said: “Money Guidance is much more basic and generic. MoneyPlan has much more breadth and scope and goes well beyond Money Guidance but they complement each other very well.”

Jane Blackburn from the FSA financial capability division said: “We would like to see a large number of people going into Money Guidance and then a subset of people who need more help moving to MoneyPlan.”

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